Sunday, March 15, 2015

Night of the Long Knives


For John, BLUFIf a new City Manager quickly and quietly purged all the second level managers it would be a "Night of the Long Knives".  Nothing to see here; just move along.



This morning, I was in a discussion with some friends in which I mentioned that "Top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett 'was behind Hillary Clinton email scandal leak'".  The source is The Daily Mail, which means a dose of caution is needed.  However, the story goes on to assert that "the leak was reportedly planned to hit at the same time Clinton planned to announce her run for presidency".  Further, the The New York Post is pulled into the story for claiming "that [Valerie] Jarrett was angry that the Clintons had been working to 'marginalize' President Obama.  Payback or forestalling?

At any rate, I described it, rather loosely, as a "Night of the Long Knives."  Well, that event was over 80 years ago, and it appears to have passed out of common memory.  So, as I was trying to describe this event, I mentioned the "SA" and was asked what that was and I was unable to come up with the official name for the SA, the German "Brownshirts".  It was the Sturmabteilung, the storm detachment.  The SA was the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.

Thus, a blog post to explain the general idea.

Below are the first two paragraphs from the Wikipedia entry for "The Night of the Long Knives".

The Night of the Long Knives (German:  Nacht der langen Messer), sometimes called Operation Hummingbird or, in Germany, the Röhm-Putsch, was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders.  Leading figures of the left-wing Strasserist faction of the Nazi Party, along with its figurehead, Gregor Strasser, were murdered, as were prominent conservative anti-Nazis (such as former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher and Gustav Ritter von Kahr, who had suppressed Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch in 1923).  Many of those killed were leaders of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary Brownshirts.

Adolf Hitler moved against the SA and its leader, Ernst Röhm, because he saw the independence of the SA and the penchant of its members for street violence as a direct threat to his newly gained political power.  Hitler also wanted to conciliate leaders of the Reichswehr, the official German military who feared and despised the SA—in particular Röhm's ambition to absorb the Reichswehr into the SA under his own leadership.  Additionally, Hitler was uncomfortable with Röhm's outspoken support for a "second revolution" to redistribute wealth.  (In Röhm's view, President Hindenburg's appointing of Hitler as German Chancellor on January 30, 1933 had accomplished the "nationalistic" revolution but had left unfulfilled the "socialistic" motive in National Socialism.)  Finally, Hitler used the purge to attack or eliminate critics of his new regime, especially those loyal to Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen, as well as to settle scores with old enemies.

Some 85 people died in the purge and over a thousand were arrested.

In American argot of a previous generation the term has been used to talk about bloodless coups.  When a certain group is purged, there may be a reference to "The Night of the Long Knives".

Regards  —  Cliff

  Ms Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Obama and perhaps is a sort of éminence grise (grey eminence) in the Obama Administration.

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