Resistance and Conformity in Nazi Germany notes

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Resistance and conformity in Nazi Germany
Political Resistance
Neither group had much success attracting working class members after summer 1933 as the Nazis
had reduced unemployment and workers associated with the illegality of alternate parties risked the
lives of themselves and their families.
In January 1933 the SPD was unprepared for the Nazi takeover because it was a
constitutional party committed to working within the legal framework of the State. They had
no means of organising resistance that did not respect the law
SPD activists continued to organise openly for the election campaign in March 1933 and we
subjected to SA violence and intimidation (especially at the passing of the Enabling act)
As laws preventing other parties came to fruition the party was unprepared for illegal
underground activity.
By the end of 1933 thousands of SPD members had been murdered of placed in protective
custody and the leadership had fled into exile
à they began to adapt. Ernest Schumacher organised secret cells of supporters in factories/
there were city based groups such as the Berlin Red Patrol and the Hanover Socialist Front.
Mostly the message was spread through word of mouth. However the constant fear of
Gestapo persecution and exposure limited the activities.
The priority became preparing for a future collapse of the regime rather than posing a
challenge against the government.
The KPD had a background in revolutionary politics and was more prepared in that way than
the SPD. However they were devastated by the repression of communists unleashed by the
Nazis. The party leader was arrested at an early stage and about 10% of the membership
were killed during 1933
There were underground memberships in industrial centres in Germany, cell networks in
Mannheim and unions in Berlin and Hamburg which published newspapers. However all of
these were broken up by the Gestapo
Workers Resistance
After Jan 1933 resistance unions decreased. It was the ideology of class conflict that had
sustained the trade unions and the Nazis abandoned this idea and promoted national unity
instead of class solidarity. Working class Germans became depoliticised. There were few
outlets for workers to voice any problems they had and independent organisations that
could have done so were illegal under Nazi law.
The workers main method of expressing their dissatisfactions was to to withdraw their
labour (strike). It was risky but it happened ­ in September 1935, 37 strikes were recorded
in the Rhineland. And Gestapo records (pinch of salt!!!) show there was 25,000 strikers in
1935 out of a total workforce of 16, 000, 000. Most strikes were due to poor working

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Ringleaders were arrested and
imprisoned, and many strikers put in jail.
Another way of showing discontent was absenteeism- which was often in response to the
very long working hours. The regime was concerned about this and in 1938 the penalty give
could range from imprisonment to losing their jobs. A charge of `sabotage' against the
regime could be brought against the workers, especially if they were suspected of
deliberately breaking machinery.…read more

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The Hitler Youth channelled the energies and rebelliousness of youth into officially approved
However by mid 1930s there were signs of growing disillusionment with the adolescence
movements. This was maybe as membership was made compulsory in 1936 and also the
growing regimentation and strictness of activities -it was a great demand on those who took
part's free time.…read more


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