Propaganda and territorialisation : SA imagery and power, 1923-1945

  • Jacob Berg

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


It was once argued that the Sturmabteilung lost political power in the Nazi state after the 1934 Night of the Long Knives. However, since the 1980s, there is a growing body of literature that has shown that the SA not only continued but had a variety of important functions until the collapse of the Third Reich. What is less known is the role that SA propaganda played in assisting the Nazi state in achieving its aims between 1934-1945. Whilst there is a historical consensus that the SA was one of the most important means of propaganda until 1933, scholars have neglected to address the ongoing significance of SA propaganda until the end of the regime. This thesis fills this gap by exploring the role and function of SA visuality and imagery from 1923-1945. By analysing the propaganda of the brownshirts over the length and breadth of their existence, this thesis demonstrates that Hitler’s stormtroopers not only continued to exist as an important community shaping constituent for the Nazis, but that their propaganda was used to Nazify German society to fit within their own twisted ideological worldview. The main contribution of this thesis lies within its analytical framework that uses Robert Sack’s concept of human territoriality as a lens to view SA propaganda. Sack argues that territoriality is the attempt by an individual or group to affect, influence, or control people by delimiting and asserting control over a geographic area. This thesis explains how SA visuality and imagery was used as a form of territorialisation, in that the SA used their propaganda after 1933 to turn German society into Nazi territory. SA imagery aimed to shape the actions and attitudes of the German population by indoctrinating them with the ideological tenets of National Socialism. By examining SA propaganda in public spaces, education, sport, and during the Second World War, this thesis establishes that the importance of the SA remained until the end of the Third Reich.
Date of Award15 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorRiccardo Bavaj (Supervisor), Conan James Fischer (Supervisor), Richard Scully (Supervisor) & Thomas Kehoe (Supervisor)


  • Sturmabteilung
  • Territorialisation
  • SA
  • Power
  • Imagery
  • Visuality

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 10 May 2028

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