Nazi Terror State (opposition, propaganda, Hitler)

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  • The terror state:
    • Aims: to what extend was Nazi Germany a police state and to what extent did the regime use terror pre-1939.
    • The Nazi's and the Law
      • Nazi concept of authority was a man of destiny would express the will of the people - Hitlers word was law.
      • They didn't make a new legal system but adapted the old one.
      • They introduced new courts, police organisations to deal with political opponents.
      • The law was applied in an inconsistent fashion - people arrested/imprisoned without trial nor evidence.
      • Freedom under the Wiemar was lost, as well as freedom  of speech.
      • The extent and effectiveness of opposition and non-conformity
        • there was a strong base of support for the regime (gestapo volunteers and denunciations).
        • successful: propaganda + gleichschaltung = able to gain acceptance from majority of people.
          • propaganda = the Nazi ** police system was presented as an instrument to protect the majority against corrupting influences + 'peoples court' and 'popular justice' portrayed repression and persecution as something that reflects the will of people.
            • propaganda, indoctrination and repression = created an atmosphere in which the vast majority of Germans were prepared to support the regime.
        • unsuccessful: gestapo had limited resources and relied heavily on the co-operation of many citizens.
          • evidence of little active oppression + Hitlers increasing popularity (Hitler myth).
        • but some groups did try to resist Nazi attempts to 'co-ordinate' them into volksgemeinschaft.
        • Political resistance
          • The left groups SPD, and KPD were expected to mount more resistance.
            • Hitler feared the unions linked to the SPD would stage a general strike to thrawt the Nazi's in 1933 like in 1920 (Kapp Putsch).
            • resistance was little due to the inner party divisions in the left.
          • SPD:
            • 1933: they were unprepared for the Nazi takeover + unequipped to organised resistance to a regime that didn't respect the law
            • they continued campaigning in 1933 march elections but faced violence from SA.
            • SPD deputies defied SA and ** intim. to vote against the enabling act in Reichstag's - but once they got the legal powers to est. a dictatorship they started to crush the SPD.
            • 1933: thousands of SPD murdered or placed into concentration camps, its leaders fled into exile.
              • party est. small secrets cells of supporters in factories: and some city-based groups such as the Berlin Red Patrol.
              • they smuggled propaganda pamphlets but gestapo limited the scope, the priority was to survive and be prepared for a future collapse of the regime.
          • KPD
            • KPD was better prepared than the SPD in underground activity
              • est. underground networks in industrial centres - revolutionary unions were set up in Berlin and hamburg but these networks were broken by the gestapo.
              • secret communist activity was not eradicated by the gestapo in 1934-1935.
                • Resistance from Elites
                  • Many conservative elites were doubtful about the Nazi's and Hitler
                  • some aristocratic generals in the army and senior civil servants regarded Hitler as a threat, even after the NOLK..
                  • The only way to rid the regime once Hindenburg died was by a military coup but.
                  • they shared Hitlers views even if they disproved of his methods.
                    • the civil service and army had a strong tradition on serving the state no matter who was in charge - active opp will involve a major intellectual & emotional shift.
                    • the people who opposed the nazi's in the army and civil service were small.
                  • opposition came in autumn 1938: elites were unease with the drift of Nazi foreign policy.
                    • many believed in his aims of a greater Germany but felt he was leading an unprepared Germany to war.
                  • General Blomberg and General Fritsch expressed their doubts about Hitlers plan of an invasion of Czechoslovakia within a year- they were both purged from the army and replaced.
                    • Sept 1938: Hitler ordered the army to prepare for plans of the invasion, seemed likely France and Britain would support Czech and war would occur.
                    • the threat of war prompted General Beck and senior army figures to plot to remove Hitler from power by a military coup.
                      • Plans were made for a march on Berlin, France and Britain listened sympathetically but didn't want to risk war.
                        • The plot depended on whether France and Britain will declare war and stand by Czech.
                        • The British and French agreed to a peaceful German takeover of the Sudetenland area of Czech - thus Hitler gained a 'victory without bloodshed'.
                          • the conspiracy to overthrow him receded quietly into the background.
                    • General Fritsch: became increasingly critical of the regime that the ** was becoming a rival to the army, he was forced o resign in 1938 after being accused as a homosexual.
              • factors cells discovered, word of mouth to reduce discovery.
            • They were upset at the repression of communists in Germany, it was the first party to be banned (their leader Ernst Thalmann was arrested).
            • 10% of its membership killed by the Nazi's during 1933.
        • grumbling about economic hardships - moaning about the food shortages could lead to arrest (society built on total subservience and conformity).
          • there were no organised or sustained resistance commanding mass support.
          • opposition to nazi was fragmented and even if they want to speak out they ahd the belief that the regime should be credited with having restored order, prosperity and national pride, and rid of Germany internal enemies.
    • The police system in the Third Reich
      • Nazi's created a party-controlled, political police force answerable to Hitler (gained control over the whole police system).
        • This created confusion and competition between various police forces.
        • **, controlled by Hitler, SD (intelligence offshoot of the **), SA controlled by Rohm in 1933, Gestapo (secret state police of which Goering was minister).
      • 1933-1936: competition and rivalry between Himmler, Rohm and Goering for control.
        • Himmler gained power in 1934 in the NOLK, SA's power was reduced.
        • 1936: Himmler put in control of **, SD and Gestapo. In 1939 he was successful due to the creation of the 'Reich Security Department Headquarters - placed all police organisations under the control of the **.
      • **
        • The ** was initially formed in 1925 as Hitlers elite bodyguard, after the NOLK they became the main Nazi party organisation in arresting political prisoners.
        • 1936: ** controlled the entire police system and concentration camps
          • ** operated in a far systematic way than SA - in 1936 repression increased e.g. concentration camps inmates increased.
          • ** concentration camp guards deliberately brutalised to remove any feelings of humanity they may feel towards prisoners.
        • Himmler wanted ** to become a racial elite, disciplined, obedient - their values were aligned in terms of adherence to Nazi ideology.
          • ** recruits had to go before a Racial Selection Board which imposed strict criteria (Aryans).
      • Concentration camps
        • March 1933: Himmler established Dachau, by the summer almost 30,000 people had been taken into 'protective custody'.
        • prisons in which inmates were forced to work, the vast majority in the early months were: communists, asocialists, socialists and trade unionists.
        • **: controlled it after 1934, this is when focused moved onto imprisoning asocials and non-aryans (regime tried to purify the race) = violence/brutality increased.
        • intended to break the spirits of the prisoners.
        • 1939: 25,000 prisoners and 3 new camps opened.
        • SD
          • led by Heydrich.     est: in 1931 (internal security)  set up to investigate claims the party had been invaded by political enemies.
          • after 1933: role was intelligence gathering - monitor public opinions, identify those who voted 'no' in plebiscites
          • 1939: 50,000 officiers mainly amatueurs who committed Nazi's (importance of the SD and success of Heydrichs' power base).
          • SD worked independently of gestapo, which was a state organisation - lead to overlap + confusion between the two.
          • The Gestapo
            • a secret police force dedicated to maintaining the Nazi regime - track all opponents.
            • a reputation for being all knowing - some believed they had agents in workplaces, pubs etc.
              • reality: small organisation with 20,000 officers in 1939.
              • most were office-based, they were not members of the party but old police forces who saw the role as serving the state.
            • became a symbol of Nazi reign of terror.
              • The gestapo received voluntary denunciations but not due to commitment but due to personal grudges.
                • They recieved soo much information that it was impossible to investigate all the allegations, thus they resorted to arbitrary(random) arrest.
              • successful: in creating suspicion and instilling an atmosphere of fear - everyone though gestapo agents were everywhere thus adjusted their behavior.
            • They depended on info from informers - Nazi activists who would spy in neighborhoods and work mates - every block had block leaders.
            • The Courts and justice system
              • all judges were appointed by the Nazi Minister of Justice.
              • Special courts in 1933 & 1934: Peoples Court est. - opponents of the Nazi charged with treason or found guilty even if there was little or no evidence - no juries/defendants/or appeal .
                • Front of German Law in 1933: merging of various professionals associations with the League of National Socialist.
                • their careers depended on doing the regimes bidding.
              • The tradition of freedom for lawyers and judges posed a problem for Nazi's as SA and ** violence and intim. were illegal - many prosecutions against them were carried to by lawyers to wanted to uphold the law.
              • Hitler was angered that the supreme court acquitted all but one defendant of the Reichstag fire.
                • some judges + prosecutors were dismissed from the regime.
              • Nazi measures and threats of SA/**, they fell into line, the justice system had no power to interfere with the use of terror.
                • 1934-1939: 3400 people tried at the peoples court, most were given the death penalty (1939: over 100 death penalties).
    • Resistance from Workers
      • before 1933: the working class was the largest unionised workforce in Europe linked to the SPD - opposed the Nazi's.
      • after 1933: trade unions absorbed into the DAF, Nazi propaganda emphasised on national opposed to class solidarity.
      • Strikes: Sept 1935, 37 strikers were reported from the Rhineland-Westphalia.
      • 1937: a total of 250 strikes, in 1935-1936 striking activity increased due to widespread discontent over food prices.
      • of the 25,00 workers who striked in 1935, 4000 spent time in prison.
      • a 17 minute strike in Opel car factory in 1936, seven ring leaders were arrested by the gestapo.
      • abseentism: a reaction against the pressure to work long hours.
        • 1938: regime was concerned so new labour regulations - severe penalties for 'slackers'
          • 1938: gestapo arrested 114 workers in Gleiwitz for absenteeism.
            • some workers sabotaged by deliberately damaging their machinery - made a criminal offence and increasing number of prosecutions in 1938-1939.
    • Resistance from Protestant Church
      • Resistance from Catholic Church
        • Catholic church were in a stronger position than protestant - it was more united, centralised and had a tradition of independence from the regime.
        • the church did try and make compromises in the 1933 concordat but this was broken by the regime.
          • It condemned Nazi hatred up on the church
          • document was smuggled in germany, secretly printed and distributed by messages on bicycle or foot.
          • It was read from every church pulpit in March 1937
          • Regime reaction: to respond in increase repression and charge priests for the 'abuse of the pulpit'
        • an arrest of a priest led to noisy public demonstrations at his trial
        • 1937: official reports show that the clergy were beginning to show 'cautious restraint'
        • Catholic resistance: Clemens von Galen spoke out against Alfred Rosenbergs atheistic views and in 1935 issued a pamphlet against the view of 'racial soul' - 19,000 Catholics went to the annual procession in July to support Galen.
          • he was considered too important to be arrested, this drew thousands of Catholics into demonstrating their support for the church.
        • effectiveness: some individuals showed great courage in opposing the regime, but as a whole the church did not enforce wider opposition - thus catholic resistance was partial, spasmodic and ineffective.
        • Resistance from Young people
          • Early years, the rebelliousness and youthful energy was put into the HJ and approved activities.
          • By mid 1930s: growing signs of disillusionment (disappointment) as membership was made compulsory in 1936 and the controlling nature of youth movements.
          • HJ and the BDM required much of the teenagers free time (compulsory hiking, military drill).
            • This was the process of gleichschaltung; individuals should have no freedom for independent activity/
            • late 1930s: response was to opt out or not attend weekly parades - or hummed banned tunes
          • some young people formed cliques or gangs to show their independence.
          • some cliques were overt political e.g the Meuten gangs which flourished in old communist strongholds in Leipzig in the late 1930s.
          • effectiveness: some resistance in the mid 1930s, and formation of gangs etc.
      • The church were the only autonomy organisation operating independent of the regime.
        • Church leadership knew they would lose against the regime thus opted for compromises.
      • responses were both complex and fluid, varied over time and even from one priest or pastor to another.
        • the regime failed to silence the cc, but it didn't form full opposition majority of its members professed loyalty to Hitler.
          • the protestant church faced internal struggle.
          • although some pastors risked their lives speaking out, the church as a whole remained silent.
      • Protestants and Catholics  - felt it necessary to draw a line in Nazi efforts and this led to resistance.
      • Pastors emergency league in 1933 and the Confessional Church in 1934: was a form of resistance - led by pastors who were not members of the Nazi party.
        • trying to protect the independence of the protestant church from the regime.
        • they were resisting the attempt to impose the third paragraph on the church.
        • they were trying to defend the lutheran theology, which was based purely on the bible.
        • 1934: struggle between regime vs confessional church: pastors spoke out against the 'nazified Christ'
          • churches refused to display the swastika flag,
          • the arrest of two cc bishops led to mass demonstrations in their support + regime responded with increased repression.
            • dissenting pastors had their salaries stopped, banned from teaching in schools and many were arrested - 1937: 700 pastors imprisoned.

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