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Strasser in 1928.
Gregor Strasser (also Straßer, see ß) (May 31, 1892 – June 30, 1934) was a politician of the German Nazi Party (NSDAP). He was murdered in Berlinmarker during the Night of the Long Knives.

Background, training, and military service

Gregor Strasser and his younger brother Otto were born into the family of a Catholic judicial officer who lived in the Upper Bavarian market town of Geisenfeldmarker. He attended the local Gymnasium (high school) and after his final examinations served his apprenticeship as a druggist in the Lower Bavarian village of Frontenhausen from 1910 until 1914. In 1914 he began to study pharmacy at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munichmarker, suspending his studies in the same year to enlist as a volunteer in the German Imperial Army. Strasser took part in World War I, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant, and being decorated with the Iron Cross, First and Second Class.

In 1918 he continued his studies at Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nurembergmarker and in 1919 he joined the rightist Freikorps led by Franz Ritter von Epp (1868-1932) together with his brother Otto. He passed his state examination successfully in the same year, and in 1920 started work as a pharmacist in Landshutmarker. Strasser established and commanded Sturmbataillon Niederbayern ( ), where young Heinrich Himmler served as his adjutant. By March 1920 Strasser's Freikorps was ready to participitate in the failed Kapp Putsch. During that time his brother Otto commanded a socialist Rote Hundertschaft (Red Group of a Hundred) to battle against this right wing "reactionary" coup d'état.

Career in the early NSDAP

Soon Gregor Strasser was leading a völkischer Wehrverband ("ethnic defense union"), one of several such nationalist paramilitary groups. His group joined forces with the NSDAP (Nazi Party) in 1921, which had been founded in Munichmarker in 1919 as the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP or German Workers' Party), and which changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP or National Socialist German Workers' Party) in 1920. His leadership qualities were readily recognized and he was soon appointed as regional head of the SAmarker in Lower Bavaria. In November 1923 he took an active part in the miscarried Beer Hall Putschmarker. In a special part of the high treason trial against Adolf Hitler and his accomplices, Strasser was sentenced to one and a half years of Festungshaft (confinement in a fortress, which was regarded as an honorable detention in the German Empiremarker) in Landsberg Prisonmarker by Volksgericht München I in April 1924. After a few weeks Strasser was released because he had been elected a member of Bavarian Landtag for the Nazi-associated Völkischer Block on May 4, 1924. On December 7, 1924 he attained a seat in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republicmarker. He had run under the party banner of the Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei (German People's Freedom Party), which served as a substitute organization for the NSDAP (which was banned in Bavaria starting in November 1923 after the abortive putsch). Strasser kept this position until December 1932.

After the official refoundation of the NSDAP by Adolf Hitler in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller on February 26, 1925 Strasser became the first Gauleiter of Lower Bavaria/Upper Palatinatemarker and, after the partition of this Gau, Lower Bavarian Gauleiter from October 1, 1928 until 1929. From June 30, 1926 until early 1928 he was NSDAP Reichspropagandaleiter (NSDAP Reich Leader for Propaganda) and from January 1928 until December 1932 he was the Nazi Reichsorganisationsleiter (Reich Organization Leader). Gregor Strasser reorganized the whole NSDAP structure, both in its regional formation and its vertical management hierarchy. The Nazi Party became a strictly centralist organization with the party's own control machinery and high propaganda capability. Strasser's ideas for restructuring the Nazi Reich Organization Leadership had been carried into effect by service regulations called Politische Organisation - P.O. - (Political Organization - P.O.) of the NSDAP on July 15, 1932.

Strasser's organizational reforms

After 1925, Strasser's outstanding organizational skill helped the NSDAP to make a big step from a marginal South German splinter party to a nationwide mass party, appealing to the lower classes and their tendency towards socialism. Its membership increased from about 27,000 in 1925 to more than 800,000 in 1931. Strasser established the NSDAP in northern and western Germany as a strong political association which quickly attained a higher membership than Hitler's southern party section. Moreover he arranged for the foundation of the Berlin SAmarker (Stormtroopers) under Upper Silesian Nazi activist Kurt Daluege in March 1926. The party's own Foreign Organization (see NSDAP/AO) was formed on Strasser's initiative, and Dr. Hans Nieland was appointed its first leader on May 1, 1931. Together with his brother Otto, Strasser founded the Berlin Kampf-Verlag (Combat Publishing) arm in March 1926, which published among others the programmatic weekly journal Der Nationale Sozialist (The National Socialist) from 1926 until 1930.

The Strasser brothers ruled the Berlin party organization unchallenged and developed an independent ideological profile from the south German party wing around Adolf Hitler. They advocated - at first together with Gregor Strasser's close collaborator in Rhineland and Westphalia Joseph Goebbels - an anti-capitalist, social revolutionary course for NSDAP that was heavily affected by antisemitism and anti-Marxism at the same time. With the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Nordwest (Syndicate Northwest), a federation of north and west German NSDAP Gauleiter under his leadership (managing director was Joseph Goebbels) founded in 1925, Gregor Strasser had created an instrument to enforce the sociopolitical and economic ideas of the left NSDAP wing. But on February 14, 1926 Hitler asserted himself successfully against this "National Bolshevist" faction during the Bamberg Conference. This earned Hitler absolute leadership within the NSDAP. The disbandment of the syndicate was decreed by a directive from Munich on July 1, 1926.

Conflict with Hitler and death

The programmatic and personal rivalry with Adolf Hitler worsened dramatically when Reichskanzler Kurt von Schleicher offered Strasser the vice-chancellorship and the office of the Prussian Prime Minister in December 1932. Von Schleicher hoped to disunite the NSDAP with Strasser's help and to pull the left Nazis around Strasser over to his national conservative side, as to prevent a revolution or takeover by Hitler. The plan failed because of Hitler's intervention, and resulted in Strasser's resignation from all party positions. He continued acting as a publicist as he did before his disempowerment. From June 1931 until its ban on February 4, 1933 he published the weekly newspaper Die Schwarze Front (named after Otto Strasser's Black Front political organisation), which made little impact on contemporaries because of its small circulation (10,000 copies).

During the Nazi Party purge, which was called officially "Röhm-Putsch" by the Nazi propaganda (see Night of the Long Knives), Strasser was imprisoned and then assassinated on Hitler's personal order by the Berlin Gestapomarker on June 30,1934. The assassins shot through a window into Strasser's cell, eventually killing him.

Fritz Günther von Tschirschky, one of Franz von Papen's staff members who was kidnapped and taken to Gestapo headquarters, claimed to be witness to the murder. According to his memoirs Strasser was murdered in an adjoining cell in the basement by an SS hit squad shooting his temple and back of the head several times.Tschirschky himself could not watch the execution directly because guards were blocking the way. But minutes later he saw guards carrying some bloody bags out. He concluded that "the murdered must have been dismembered shortly after the crime and his body parts carried outside."

See also



Literature

  • Diebow, Hans: Gregor Strasser und der Nationalsozialismus. - Berlin : Tell-Verl., 1932/33. - 65 p.
  • Dixon, Joseph Murdock: Gregor Strasser and the organization of the Nazi Party, 1925-32. - V, 251 folios - (Stanford Universitymarker, Calif., Phil. Diss., 1966)
  • Geismaier, Michael: Gregor Strasser. - Leipzig : Kittler, 1933. - 95 p. - (Maenner und Maechte)
  • Goderbauer-Marchner, Gabriele: Gregor Straßer und die Anfänge der NSDAP in Bayern, insbesondere in Niederbayern und Landshut. - (Munich Universitymarker,thesis, 1986)
  • Kissenkoetter, Udo: Gregor Strasser und die NSDAP . - Stuttgart : Dt. Verl.-Anst., 1978. - 219 S. - (Schriftenreihe der Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte ; 37) . - ISBN 3-421-01881-2. - (at the same time: Düsseldorf Universitymarker, Diss., 1975)
  • Richardi, Hans-Günter: Hitler und seine Hintermänner : neue Fakten zur Frühgeschichte der NSDAP. - München : Süddeutscher Verl., 1991. - 446 p. - ISBN 3-7991-6508-8
  • Stachura, Peter D.: Der Fall Strasser : Gregor Strasser, Hitler and national socialism ; 1930 - 1932. - pp. 88-130 in: The shaping of the Nazi state. - London : Croom Helm, 1978. - 304 p. - ISBN 0-06-496492-2
  • Stachura, Peter D.: Gregor Strasser and the rise of Nazism. - London : Allen & Unwin, 1983. - XIV, 178 p. - ISBN 0-04-943027-0
  • Straßer, Bernhard: Gregor und Otto Strasser : Kurze Darst. ihrer Persönlichkeit u. ihres Wollens, hrsg. zum 20. Jahrestag d. dt. Bartholomäusnacht vom 30. Juni 1934. - Külsheim: Harald Stössel, 1954. - 16 p.


References

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