List of the most important victims of Operation Hummingbird includes the following individuals:
- Georg von Detten, member of the Reichstag, department chief of the Supreme SA Leadership (OSAF)
- Karl Ernst, member of the Reichstag, leader of the SA-lower group East
- Hans Joachim von Falkenhausen, chief of staff of Georg von Detten
- Hans Hayn, member of the Reichstag, SA-group leader of Sachsen
- Edmund Heines, SA-senior group leader in Breslau
- Oskar Heines, younger brother of Edmund Heines and also SA member
- Peter von Heydebreck, member of the Reichstag, SA-group leader
- Hans-Karl Koch, member of the Reichstag, SA-general in the group of Westmark (Western part of Prussia)
- Fritz von Krausser, member of the Reichstag, chief of the main office of the OSAF (Supreme SA Leadership)
- Hans Ramshorn, member of the Reichstag, SA-general in Oberschlesien and chief of police of Gleiwitz
- Ernst Röhm, SA-chief of staff – i.e. the commander of SA (the most important victim by far)
- Paul Röhrbein, SA-captain, leader of the first SA of Berlin
- Erich Schiewek, SA-man from Breslau, accompanied Edmund Heines to Bad Wiessee as substitute adjutant
- Maximilian Vogel, chauffeur of Ernst Röhm
- Ernestine Zoref, Housewife and mistress to SA supporter Baron Paul Edmund von Hahn (journalist and writer who just disappeared in April)
- The proprietor and the head-waiter of the Bratwurst-Gloeckle in Munich, Röhm’s favorite tavern, where Goebbels had met secretly with Röhm prior to the purge. Although the two men were not involved politically, it was deemed that they knew too much about what really happened between Röhm and Adolf Hitler.
- Otto Ballerstedt, former Chief of the “Bayernbund”, a secessionist political group in Bavaria, responsible for putting Hitler in prison for a month in 1922 after he had physically attacked Ballerstedt during a rally. It was obviously a personal vendetta of Adolf Hitler, who neither forgot nor forgave – ever.
- Fritz Beck, director of the Munich Students’ Welfare Fund (no one knows for sure why)
- Herbert von Bose, associate of Franz von Papen (who barely escaped the murderers himself)
- Ferdinand von Bredow, close associate of Kurt von Schleicher (also a victim)
- Fritz Gerlich, newspaper journalist, editor of Munich’s Catholic weekly (Der Gerade Weg) and publisher of the Catholic Action magazine
- Alexander Glaser, politician and lawyer. He was one of the leaders of the German People’s Party (Deutsche Volkspartei – DVP) – a national liberal party in Weimar Germany. His crime against the Nazis was a capital one – he won several lawsuits against the latter
- Karl-Günther Heimsoth, physician, publicist, politician. A member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), he worked as an informant for the BB-Ressort – the Communist equivalent of the Nazi Party SD. Hence it is not surprising that he was murdered by the SS – it is surprising that he lasted for more than a year after Adolf Hitler came to power
- Anton Freiherr von Hohberg und Buchwald, SS Obersturmführer (first leutenant), the only SS victim, killed on the orders of Obergruppenführer (leutanant-general) von dem Bach Zelewski. The latter apparently had a conflict with the former sufficiently troubling to warrant the murder
- Edgar Julius Jung, lawyer, author of the famous “Marburg speech” of Franz von Papen (and a Catholic Action worker). The Marburg speech (was an address given by then – German Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen at the University of Marburg on 17 June 1934. It was the last speech made publicly, and on a high level, in Germany against National Socialism. No wonder the Nazis promptly murdered its author – and forced von Papen (also a Catholic) to resign
- Gustav Ritter von Kahr, former prime minister of Bavaria, Member of Triumvirate who suppressed the Beer Hall Putsch. Another personal vendetta by Adolf Hitler.
- Kuno Kamphausen, architect, member of the Catholic Center Party and a firm opponent of national-socialism. Murdered for… being un-cooperative about building licenses
- Eugen von Kessel, a former officer, a police captain and at the time of the purge the head of a private intelligence company. He was apparently involved in an independent investigation of the Reichstag fire and (obviously) discovered the incontrovertible evidence that Marinus van der Lubbe acted alone and German (or any other) Communists had nothing to do with that crime. That was exactly what the Nazis did not want to be made public so they killed him
- Erich Klausener, leader of the police department in the Prussian ministry of internal affairs and president of Berlin’s Catholic Action group.
- Adalbert Probst, the national director of the Catholic Youth Sports Association. The Catholic Church in Germany had resisted attempts by the new Nazi Government to close its youth organizations so the Nazis solved this problem by murdering Probst, Erich Klausener and Fritz Gerlich
- Kurt von Schleicher, former Chancellor of Germany and his wife Elisabeth von Schleicher. Now that character was a very real threat for the Nazi regime and for Adolf Hitler personally. In January of 1933 he was rumored to have planned a coup to prevent Hitler from coming to power and in 1934 wanted to radically restructure Hitler’s cabinet by becoming a vice-chancellor and appointing Ernst Röhm as minister of defense. These intentions by von Schleicher provided Hitler with ammunition to go after SA leaders… and von Schleicher. His wife – as it often happens – just was in the wrong place at the wrong time
- Willi Schmid, the music critic of the Münchener Neueste Nachrichten, a Munich newspaper. He was killed in a case of mistaken identity – the SS assassins were going after the SA leader by the same name Willi Schmidt
- August Schneidhuber, member of the Reichstag, chief of police of Munich
- Johann Konrad Schragmüller, member of the Reichstag, chief of police of Magdeburg
- Emil Sembach, member of the Reichstag and an SS-Oberführer (Senior Colonel often mistakenly considered an equivalent of brigadier-general). In June of 1934, he was found guilty (by the SD, not the SS court, but that was enough for Himmler) of embezzlement and a homosexual relationship with one Kurt Wittje. Apparently, it was too much a crime for SS-Reichsfuhrer to spare the life of hapless SS-Oberführer so Sembach was expelled from the Nazi party and the SS and then murdered in the SS version of a “honor killing”.
- Father Bernhard Stempfle, – definitely the most mysterious of the victims (I will talk about him in more detail in a section on Hitler and the Christianity) A defrocked Catholic priest (member of a no less mysterious – and Italian – Hieronymite order); a gifted journalist – he was a regular contributor to Corriere della Sera, a virulent anti-Semite, a member of the secretive anti-republican Organization Kanzler, a member of Hitler’s inner circle (and his advisor on the religious issues) and even one of the editors of Mein Kampf/ Apparently, he learned too much about Der Führer which made him a serious liability for the latter. So he was arrested by the SS in the woods near Harlaching – a borough in Munich
- Gregor Strasser. Member of NSDAP since 1920 he participated in the failed Beer Hall Putsch; he was instrumental in transforming the NSDAP from a marginal south-German splinter party into a nationwide party with mass appeal. For all practical purposes was the NSDAP Führer in northern and western Germany and Deputy Führer in charge or organizational matters (Chief Organizational Engineer, if you will). Unfortunately, his ideas were far too leftist to be acceptable to Hitler and his negotiations with von Schleicher in late 1932 made him a very serious political threat to the latter. So Strasser was forced to resign from all Party positions (and from Reichstag) and leave politics altogether. Still, Hitler considered him to be a serious (albeit latent) threat and ordered Strasser murdered – just in case. The fact that Hitler was godfather to Strasser’s children apparently did not matter
- Gerd Voß His only crime was being a lawyer for Gregor Strasser. Apparently, Hitler decided that the hapless lawyer knew way too much to be left alive
- Alexander Zweig, a Jewish doctor from Hirschberg (Jelenia Góra, a city in Lower Silesia, south-western Poland). Apparently, in 1934 being Jewish was apparently more than enough for being killed by the SS
- Jeanette Zweig, wife of Alexander Zweig (contrary to some accounts, she herself was not Jewish by birth). But the SS assassins evidently did not care
This list demonstrates beyond the reasonable doubt that the Night of Long Knives was a thoroughly planned undertaking (in other words, a very much premeditated murder – Murder One in legal terms).
With an obvious exception of those individuals which just happened to be in the wrong place at the murderously wrong time, every victim of this mass murder falls into one of the following categories:
- Personal enemies of Adolf Hitler. In other words, their murder was a personal vendetta on the part of the latter. It probably makes sense to include into this category individuals murdered on the orders of Heinrich Himmler and von dem Bach-Zelewsky as both murders were essentially personal as well
- Critically important leaders of the SA. Adolf Hitler and his co-conspirators (Göring, Himmler, Heydrich, etc.) identified and liquidated those SA leaders without whom Stormtroopers, though colossal on paper, ceased to be a potent political and paramilitary force (and thus a threat to Adolf Hitler)
- Active, potential and perceived political opponents of the Nazi regime (mostly conservatives and leaders of Catholic political organizations).
- Prominent police leaders who stood in Hitler’s way (actually, of Himmler’s and Göring’s) to a total control over the German police
- Individuals who just knew too much and thus were a threat to a Nazi regime and/or to Adolf Hitler personally