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Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler's Brownshirts, by Daniel Siemens

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017. Pp. xlii, 450. Illus., endpaper maps., notes, biblio., index. $32.50. ISBN: 0300196814.


The SA in the Third Reich

Although there are been several older histories of the SA (Sturmabteilung, literally “Storm Detachment”), most of them fail to carry the story of the Brownshirts much beyond the ‘”Rohm Purge”. In contrast, in his new history of the Brownshirts, while Prof. Siemans (Newcastle University) devotes only about half his book to the origins of the SA and its role in Hitler’s rise through to the “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934.

In the balance of the book Siemans covers the largely untold story of the role of the SA in the life of the Third Reich after the purge, during the years leading up to World War II, through the war itself, and on into the post-war period.

Siemans covers the restructuring and repurposing of the SA into a loyal tool of the regime. He then examines SA’s part in shaping the “Germanization” of the East, enforcing the occupation and laying the ground work for German settlement. He follows this with a very interesting look at the role of the SA in the German war providing pre-induction training for young men and even its somewhat limited role in combat. In a very revealing chapter, Siemans covers the role of SA personnel in implementing the Holocaust in occupied territories and the puppet states in the Balkans.

Siemans concludes with a short account of the lives of SA veterans in post-war Germany, which offers a rather sobering reminder of how many Nazis managed to get away.

Stormtroopers is an essential reading for scholars of the Nazi movement, and will also be of some use to those with a more general interest in World War II.


Note: Stormtroopers is also available as an eBook 978-0-300-23125-0, and in several other e-editions



Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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