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Nazi Germany 1933

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Introduction

Nazi Germany 1933-45 7 (a) Source D is written by a modern German historian, approximately fifty years after the events described. The source talks about the active resistance in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. There were various coercive powers that were loyal to Hitler and inhibited all the political resistance he could possibly face. One of these powers being the Gestapo, as mentioned in this source. The Gestapo were a secret police force, set up by Goering in the first months of Hitler's take over. They were a small group who kept strict records and files on Nazi citizens. They closely watched the public and encouraged denunciation amongst citizens, as this was the best way to find out who was being disloyal to the Fuhrer. There was not much active resistance in Germany as people feared these 'coercive powers'' ability to effectively silence any opposition, public as well as private. As the source states, this use of terror against political antagonists was enough to freeze up even the most courageous resistant groups and we know it did exactly that. There were also the SA and SS troops who were used by Hitler to enforce total control by means of explicit, brute, physical force. The Gestapo on the other hand, did not get so physically involved. In the early stages they were legally allowed to take citizens who were hostile to the Nazi regime, into 'protective custody' and deal with them. As time went on, the protective custody myth was forgotten and the Gestapo began openly working outside the law; killing and torturing citizens who showed resistance towards the regime. ...read more.

Middle

Or whether it was a hybrid of both theories - the weakness of the opposition strengthened the regime? Source A clearly believes that the weakness of the opposition was, in fact the strength of the regime. It is an internal report by an SPD member in exile, who is now likely to be bitter and resentful about the prospect of overthrowing Hitler's rule. The source is true in saying that majority of the citizens were very capable of grumbling and complaining, but were incapable of fighting against the regime, as they were afraid, did not know what they wanted, and had no clear goals. We know that much of the opposition was generated within the lower/working class, over the economic state of the country. As this source is by a member of the SPD, he is concentrating on the weakness of the lower class, the people who support his party. The Mittelstand (lower middle class) were angry about their wages and living conditions, and each person was living in their particular state of poverty that they wanted changed for themselves. As this source correctly states, even amongst this group of economically motivated people, unity and strength in numbers was difficult to achieve, so how could everyone unite against Hitler, when their reasons for opposition was so varied. This was a major weakness in the resistant groups, and they wasted time actively disliking each other, for example the SPD and KPD. The Church was against Hitler's regime, as well as communism, and again their reasons were purely selfish and in the interest of the church. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is not because they are naturally weak, but because they were made weak. The opposition groups were stripped of all weapons, voice and finally status; during the very first year of Hitler's rule. However, he still remained popular up until 1941, because he was helping the German economy and was restoring the pride, through the Anchluss and re-militarization of the Rhineland. Hitler also used a great deal of propaganda to turn people against the KPD, SPD etc, and to increase his own popularity amongst the citizens. The public (especially the youth) and the army (who were potentially the most effective resistance group) were thoroughly indoctrinated in Nazi ideology, and the army officers were also made to swear an oath of personal allegiance to the Fuhrer. The regime also deceived the people greatly by organising rigged plebiscites and controlling all aspects of the media, giving an impression of the great popularity of the regime; which suppressed any prospective opposition. There were certain elements of weakness and flaws in the opposition groups, such as their inability to work collectively, their selfishness in only working towards changes that would benefit them and their lack of knowledge of how to make Germany a better place, and who would be a good successor to Hitler. Although the opposition was unhappy, they knew no better and were not willing to take risks. Many people feared unemployment as well as death if they defied Hitler, and they were too weak to fight for themselves. I think that Hitler started of with a strong regime, instantly crippling the opposition, and he was the able to strengthen his regime even further working on the weakness of his opposition. Anam Khan 6'1 ...read more.

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