Remember Hitler’s Boogaloo Boys


Hitler with SA Brownshirts

The key to reading history of Nazi Germany, a wise professor once explained to me, is to attempt to understand the logic and mentality of those who embraced the Nazi movement without ever losing sight of what an ultimately absurd and fundamentally evil project theirs was. This is the approach readers must bring to Daniel Siemens’s Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts, a superbly detailed account of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the main paramilitary wing of the Nazi party from its inception in 1920 until the consolidation of Hitler’s power in 1934. Siemens, a professor of European history at Newcastle University, looks beyond the traditional trope of the SA, or “Brownshirts” as they were commonly known, as a group of rowdy young psychopaths looking to brawl. His book paints a far more frightening portrait of a million-member organization that flourished by promising young German men a world of hypermasculinity, camaraderie, and egalitarianism—with genocidal undertones…

Of course, the phenomenon of far-right militias taking up the mantle of “border defense” in the face of migrant influxes is hardly a thing of the past. Present-day groups such as the BNO Shipka in Bulgaria or any of the sundry militias in the Arizona desert similarly seek to supplant the democratic state as the protector of the “people” and the “homeland.” While there is no group of equivalent influence to the SA in America today [article written in 2018] histories like Siemens’s should give pause to those who would think that the problem of far-right violence will disappear if we simply dismiss it as the actions of a few thugs.

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was…