The role of the SA

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In 1921 Hitler set up a group within the NSDAP that would protect his political meetings from attacks by rivals. It gave a military look, feel and discipline to the party. This group was known as the ‘stormtroopers’ (Sturm Abteilung – SA) or ‘Brownshirts’.

Many members of the SA were former soldiers unemployed since the end of the war. As the SA grew in size, rather than simply protecting Hitler and Nazi meetings from opponents, they began to disrupt the meetings of rival political groups.

As the Nazis gained power through democratic means, the SA gained a reputation as a well-organised gang of violent thugs. This frightened and put many off Nazism, but others were attracted by the organisation and discipline of a uniformed group.

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