Röhm (L) and Heines, 1933. Bundesarchiv, Bild 146–1977–065–28 / CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Was Ernst Röhm’s Homosexuality a Scandal, or a Secret?

Martin Karaffa
4 min readApr 18, 2020

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In the centre of Munich, behind the Frauenkirche, you’ll find a traditional Bavarian Wirtshaus (pub) called the Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom

The original proprietors came from Nürnburg, so the place specialised in Franconian food. It did a brisk trade in those small Nürnburger sausages (which Americans would call breakfast sausages), served with sinus -scorching horseradish, and washed down by lashings of Augustiner beer. The Glöckl still stands today.

By the early 1930s, the Zehnter family had run it with great success for a number of years. On the untimely death of his parents, 24 year-old Karl Zehnter took the helm.

As is German custom, Zehnter kept Stammtische, or standing tables for regulars. One such table belonged to a group of Karl’s buddies. It became known as Stammtisch 175, after the notorious paragraph 175 of the German criminal code which outlawed homosexuality.

Among the Stammtisch regulars were Edmund Heines, a particularly brutal murderer and enforcer, and his boss, Ernst Röhm. Röhm and Heines were numbers one and two in the Sturmabteilung, a group of militarized criminal rabble who sowed fear among Nazi enemies. They were a very useful bunch.

Zehnter moved in right-wing political circles, too, and all were assumed to be part of the same…

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Martin Karaffa

Marty is an independent strategy consultant specialising in global brands and communications. He is also an Associate Partner of The Culture Factor.