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"The July Plot Failed Largely Because of Popular Support for Hitler." How valid is this as an assessment of the failure of the July Plot in 1944?

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Introduction

"The July Plot Failed Largely Because of Popular Support for Hitler." How valid is this as an assessment of the failure of the July Plot in 1944? The German public had met the outbreak of World War II with a general sense of apprehension. Although Hitler had been admired for his achievements thus far, it was becoming increasingly obvious to the German public that the regeneration of their economy would come at a price. Hitler made considerable achievements in political and economic fields. He also addressed military matters and to some extent social policy. The Enabling Bill was passed in March 1933, with opposition coming only from the Socialists. This was due to the threat posed by the development of the Gestapo and of course, the SS, which had advanced "from improvised terror of the early years to the gigantic concentration-camp system of the extermination era." (Bracher - 1970) As a result of relentless persecution and the introduction of stringent laws, various groups emerged, with a mutual opposition to Nazi conformity. Unfortunately there was no single, unified resistance movement, which meant that any kind of successful campaign proved difficult to initiate, especially under the close eye of the Gestapo. Resistance ranged from youth groups such as the Edelweiss Pirates, committing petty crimes, to the Beck-Goerdeler group and the Kreisau Circle who made attempts on Hitler's life. At the same time there was a great deal of support for Hitler and allegiance to him, which made it more difficult still for the resistance groups to take any action. The Edelweiss Pirates were a prime example of youth resistance to Nazi conformity. They consisted of mostly working class youths. Some had refused to join the Hitler youth because of the lifestyle it would have imposed upon them. Others had simply dropped out from the Hitler Youth presumably because they disagreed with the programme. They daubed graffiti on public walls, disturbed uniformed officials and held pitched battles with the Hitler Youth. ...read more.

Middle

It must be said that, aside from popular support for Hitler, the July Plot and indeed many other attempts on Hitler's life suffered from severe misfortune. An unlikely series of flukes ensured that Hitler remained unscathed by any of the attempts until the final July Plot. "General Franz Halder and Henning von Tresckow intended to use a bomb to assassinate Hitler but the device failed to detonate... Field Marshal von Witzhelben intended to shoot Hitler at the Champs Elysees. Sadly Hitler declined his invitation to visit Paris... Colonel von Gersdorff agreed to blow up both himself and Hitler when they shook hands but he failed to get close enough" The above extract and the oath of allegiance are taken from "David Evans and Jane Jenkins Years of Weimar and the Third Reich, 1999." The oath is useful to an historian as a primary source. It demonstrates why it might have proven difficult to incite resistance against Hitler and thus gain support for the July Plot. As a direct translation it should not suffer from any form of bias. The above extract, in summarising the various attempts on Hitler's life, is useful in its portrayal of the desperate measures taken by resistance groups. David Evans and Jane Jenkins are specialised historians in this subject area and will have used both primary sources, secondary sources and other historians' views as well as their own knowledge. The date of publication of the sources would ensure that they were free from censorship. Additionally, any bias that might have been brought about during the post-war area will have been discounted by this time. By the end of 1943, The Gestapo and Himmler's SD had succeeded in dispersing most anti-Nazi resistance within Germany. Key figures of resistance had been arrested or invalidated in some way. Hans Oster, one of the heads of German military intelligence, who had maintained active resistance against Hitler, was placed under close surveillance. ...read more.

Conclusion

This particular book was published in 1982. Williamson would therefore have had a great deal of material at his disposal. He will have used a range of primary and secondary sources as well as taking into consideration views of other historians. Some of his other titles include 'Bismarck and Germany 1862-1890,' published in 1986, 'Germany from Defeat to Partition, 1945-1963,' and 'The Age of the Dictators,' not yet published. The views of Heinz Guderian and David G. Williamson differ greatly. We might again attribute this to their difference in nationality, though there are once more additional factors to be considered. Guderian's view might have been tainted greatly by a very influential Hitler whereas Williamson's view should have been free from any form of bias. The dates of publication also differ greatly. Guderian's book, 'Panzer Leader' was published in 1953, probably written almost immediately after the war when the general consensus was certainly a biased one. Williamson's 'The Third Reich' was published in 1982 when there was more material available, less propaganda and less influenced public opinion. I feel that support for Hitler was widespread, and where there wasn't support there was loyalty through fear. I believe that Himmler posed as much of a threat as Hitler as a Nazi aggressor and as head of the army from 1944, he could have overthrown any kind of provisional government set up by the Beck-Goerdeler Group upon assassination of Hitler. It would be wrong to say that the plot failed entirely due to popular support for Hitler and more feasible to propose that, as the essay title suggests, the plot failed largely due to popular support for Hitler. He gained the support of the army and had the support of the SA and later the SS. He also had a largely dedicated governmental cabinet. Any form of opposition was promptly eliminated. Of course, the July Plot also failed because of a succession of mishaps and poor organisation as previously mentioned. ...read more.

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