“What of the situation outside the workplace? Hitler’s SA projected an image of strength and the Brownshirts were indeed a large organization, but the fact remains that the SPD’s paramilitary wing alone, the Reichsbanner, outnumbered them significantly. To this number could have been added the KPD’s equivalent, the League for Anti-Fascist Struggle, which claimed over 100,000 members in the early 1930’s.
Furthermore, the fighting power of the SA was greatly exaggerated. It wasoften dependent on the police in its efforts to intimidate workers. In Berlin, ‘the SA never appeared en masse in a working class neighborhood without police protection.’ As late as 22 January 1933 it required a massive police presence to guarantee the safety of a Nazi demonstration at the KPD’s Berlin HQ. Even in Nazi strongholds like Marburg the SA found it difficult to operate. In 1931, for example, the SA decided to invade the ‘totally Red nest’ of the Ockershausen, a working class district of this predominately middle class university town. They were met by residents who shouted:
“‘Now you’re going to get it … You Nazi swine.’ An hour before the assembly Social Democrats and Communists gathered in the Welhelmsplatz to march to Ockerhausen, where they quickly disrupted the Nazi assembly with catcalls and insults. When the leader of the assembly, an NSDStB [Nazi student] member, began to yell back, Reichsbanner members shouted, ‘Social Democrats to the fore!’ and charged. As fighting began, the police official Diederich immediately dissolved the assembly and had his men use rubber truncheons to restore order. Police then detained Nazi Party members in the hall and escorted them out of town while Ockershausen residents shouted, threw rockes, and finally promted police to pull their guns.” – Donny Gluckstein, The Nazis, Capitalism, and the Working Class, pp. 101-102.