Ernst Kaufmann was a nobleman and a leader of the Sturmabteilung's special weapons division.
Ernst Kaufmann was born in a family of German nobles, who possessed a castle in the Bavarian Alps. After World War I, Kaufmann joined Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party, and became an officer of Nazi "storm troops", the Sturmabteilung. He was capable enough to achieve the rank of Gruppenführer (Major General).
After the 1933 election in Germany, when the Nazis came to power, Kaufmann was the commanding officer of the SA's special weapons division. In February 1934, Kaufmann and Hitler were at the Deutsches Opernhaus in Berlin where they watched one of Richard Wagner's operas. After the opera, they met Johann Schmidt who revealed to them his theory that magic could be “the oldest science ever known”. Hitler was intrigued by Schmidt's ideas, but Kaufmann was less impressed. Still, Hitler ordered Kaufmann to arrange a meeting between him and Schmidt.
But when Hitler left the scene, Kaufmann and his men took Schmidt out of the opera. Schmidt offered to conduct research in Kaufmann's special weapons division but was violently rejected. Kaufmann threatened to kill Schmidt if he came near Hitler ever again.
On June 30, 1934 Kaufmann was at the Hanselbauer Hotel in the Bavarian town of Bad Wiessee. Schmidt, now an officer of Heinrich Himmler's Schutzstaffel, came to the hotel and killed Kaufmann in a painful way. On that day, which later became known as the Night of the Long Knives, almost the entire leadership of the SA was eliminated by the SS troops. Schmidt later took control of Kaufmann's weapons program.