Ernst, milk-curdling mustache and all, was pretty close to Hitler. He founded the Sturmabteilung (SA), or "the Brownshirts," a paramilitary unit that was basically around to punch anyone who tried to interrupt a Nazi rally. Also, Ernst was the only Nazi leader Hitler allowed to address him as "Adolph." Ernst trusted Hitler. He'd built a three-million-man street-fighting army for him. They were good bros.
Then Hitler had Ernst murdered in 1934, during the Night of Long Knives, which for Hitler was the Night of "Knock A Shitload of Stuff Off Mein To-Do List." Rohm's private army scared the real army, and while Hitler liked Rohm, he liked the army more.
In fact, behind every great dictator in history is a pile of close friends whom they fucked over. Stalin had most of his best friends executed. Saddam Hussein was viewed as a moderate, reasonable politician by his colleagues, right up until he had a bunch of them killed and made the others watch video tapes of it. Even the American soldiers guarding Saddam, who knew exactly what he'd done, still sorta loved the old monster.
Once we start believing in a person who holds power -- believing in their cause, or their personal goodness, or simply that they're on "our side" -- it is almost impossible to break that spell. We will forgive the most gruesome sins. In fact, it can work the opposite way. Knowing that a leader is cruel or dismissive to others while he treats you with kindness can have an intoxicating effect. Sure, he's an asshole, but he's an asshole for us. Which brings us to how ...