When Hitler joined the German Workers’ Party he became its 55th member. By the end of 1920 the newly named Nazi Party recorded a membership of 2,000 and during the upheaval of the hyperinflation crisis its membership grew rapidly, to 20,000 by the time of the Munich Putsch in November 1923.
The role and impact of the SA
In 1921 Hitler assembled a large group of unemployed young men and former soldiers, known as the Storm Troopers (Sturmabteilung) or SA, as the Nazi Party’s private army:
They gained the nickname ‘Brownshirts’, after their brown shirted uniforms.
Their role was to protect party meetings, march in Nazi rallies and intimidate political opponents by breaking up their meetings.
Many of the SA men were former soldiers. Some were upset with the way they had been treated after World War One and saw the government as the ‘November Criminals’.
After the failure of the Munich Putsch, the SA was reorganised.
It began to be used to intimidate voters into voting for the Nazi Party.
However, the Nazi Party was not the only organisation to have a paramilitary group. The communists also had similar elements.
By 1932 the SA had 400,000 members. This number swelled to an estimated two million by the time Hitler came to power in 1933, largely due to unemployed men joining up during the Great Depression.