Nazi opposition, control and consent 1933-45

  • Created by: izzzyftz
  • Created on: 28-12-17 15:47

The nature/extent of opposition in the Nazi state


Youth protest movements did exist in Nazi Germany. The Nazipropagandists of the time would have had the world believe that the youth population of Nazi Germany was fully behind Hitler. It is true that many did join the Hitler Youth movement but in 1936 membership was made compulsory and all other youth movements were banned so there was no alternative. However, there were some youths who were ideologically against the regime, such as the white rose group, the swing youth and the Edelweiss pirates. 

This opposition was mostly non-conformity rather than active protest and never really threatened the regime to a great extent. This opposition increased during the war, but as did Nazi repression - many youths were publicly hanged or killed for opposing the Nazi state during the war years. It is fair to say that youth opposition was mostly ineffective and only really riled up ** troops and Gestapo rather than threaten the stability of the Nazi regime. 

1 of 8

The nature/extent of opp. (2)

Left wing;

The social democrat party was banned in 1933 along with all other political parties, but its exiled leadership and activists inside Germany continued to oppose the Nazi regime. A much greater level of active resistance came from the Communists, which undertook extensive underground resistance against Nazis.

Continuous pressure and resistance from the Gestapo meant that SPD’s underground activities were largely ineffective. The Reichstag fire left the KPD largely unpopular and most fled or were arrested. However, KPD literature found its way into many factories, workplaces and beer halls, yet this never evoked mass support or opposition for the Nazis and was mostly just something to read. Workers campaigned for their rights and were more active with protests and strikes, but many were sent to concentration camps or put in jail. Georg Elser’s bomb plot failed in 1939. More serious than youth opposition but mostly ineffective as political parties had been banned and they could not politically get to Hitler and his Nazis.  

2 of 8

The nature/extent of opp. (3)


The Catholic Church remained independent from the Nazis throughout the whole period of Nazi rule. Consequently, it was able to speak out about against some Nazi policies and protest against them, in some cases. Catholic protest won an important victory regarding the rights of Catholic schools in 1935, and in 1937 the Pope published a book complaining about the breaking of the Concordat promise.  There were public protests and following public attacks from Cardinal Galden on the euthanasia campaign, the regime temporarily suspended it.

All and all, religious opposition towards the Nazi regime was mostly ineffective as during the war years the Nazis exerted more pressure on churches and therefore shows they felt no threat towards them, despite them having international following. Catholics weren’t violent and were more a threat on the side of negotiation.

3 of 8

The nature/extent of opp. (4)

Popular opposition to the Nazi regime never seriously threatened Hitler's hold on power. The most significant threat to Hitler came from the elite. Indeed, it was the 1944 bomb plot that came closest to bringing down the regime. The conservative elites worked inside the government and were people of influence and status which meant they had good support. The conservative elite opposition groups were preapared to bring down hitler, although not through active protests, but infact through sneaky theoretical and plots. 

Military defeats especially after 1943 led some elements of the army to resist the regime. Kreisau circle didn't plot to overthrow the Nazi regime but gave information to the allies on teh regime's weaknesses. The circle contained many elites, yet most of them were arrested which led to the dissolution of teh group. 

4 of 8

The nature/extent of support

People supported the regime for many reasons. For some, the apparent economic achievemnets persuaded germans that the Nazis were worth at least passive support. Some, particularly the young, saw Nazism as a revival of the spirit of passionate militaristic nationalism that they had experienced during WW1. Other supported them for opportunistic reasons. There was active, passive, partial and just conformity. 

Many supporters of the regime were young people who had been children during the first world war as rather than experiencing the horrors of trenches and fighting, they were subjected to official propaganda. They were attracted to the glamourous Nazi regime and its militaristic values with its promises to overturn the ToV and restore German honour. 

The middle class mostly rejected democracy due to hyperinflation crisis and the 1929 crash which ruined the middle class and their savings. Young middle class germans found it difficult to get jobs and were attracted to the working opportunities that Hitler provided. 

Support for the Nazis was higher in rural areas than urban areas - some Nazi policies improved conditions for peasants.  

The nazi regime was a dictatorship, in which signs of non-conformity and opposition were severly punished. Therefore, it's difficult to establish the level of support for Nazism, however there is widespread evidence for support, such as plebiscite questions showing 90+% in favour of the regime and an increase from 92.2% of support in october 1933 to 99.9% support in March 1936. Despite the people having no alternative party to vote for, it is significant how high these %'s are. 

5 of 8

The main ways support was generated

Propaganda was widely believed by Hitler and his allies to be the key feature that could make or break support for the regime. Film making and press reports built up lots of support for the Nazis and created hatred for ethnic minorities such as Jews and Gypsies. Radio was also a popular method of creating support, however in many rural areas the people could not get good radio recpetion and so couldn't be persuaded to support the regime this way. Despite this, the regime produced the Volksempfanger (people's reciever) as a cheap radio reciever and was designed so that it could recieve signals from approved radio stations only. 

The 'Hitler myth' was also a method that the Nazi regime used to persuade people to support them. Hitler was a central figure in most propaganda and mad to look like the saviour of germany and a representative of the whole nation. He was percieved to be above party politics who always put the needs of germany above that of his party, unlike other politicians. He was presented as all things great and as the key to germany's revival. The myth was an important part of the propaganda effort which allowed german's to feel loyalty to and respect for Hitler and therefor eincreased support for the regime. 

Conformity support was also widespread. As Nazism made Germany a dictatorship, it is hard to assess just how genuine support for the regime was. Fear and intimidation was a key aspect in getting people to conform and thus 'support' Nazi policies. The ** and Gestapo were also a significant feature in this as they would beat and punish those who showed opposition. 

6 of 8

Ways the gov. managed opposition

In the early days of the Nazi regime censorship and repression were used against political enemies as well as opponents who posed a real threat to the government. From the mid 1930s, however, the Nazis used repressive mthods against individuals and groups who did not fit the Nazi ideal of a radically pure German. Nazi violence was consistent in many ways. Specifically, Nazis consistently ignored the rule of law, acted arbitarily and their violence was routinely sadistic. 

Hitler's **, SA and Gestapo were all key features of repression, even in the early days of the regime. Concentration camps were set up to instill fear into the nation and almost promote conformity. Dachau was the first concentration camp set up for people who oppressed the regime, and here people would be forced to do hard labour in poor conditions, but would only be there for a few weeks/months depending on their type of opposition. This encouraged others who heard of the nature of the camps to conform. 

The Night of the Long Knives was the last major public use of terror against opponents of the government in the first 18 months of Nazi rule. In essence, Hitler justified the purge on the grounds that Rohm was working against the regime and used the press to shed bad light on the members of the SA. 

Mostly, the secret police depended on the complicity of the public. Many germans would 'tip off' people they thought were working against the regime, or simply beacuse they didn't like them and wanted rid of them. In this sense, there was a high level of collaboration with the regime from German citizens. 

Censorship was another way in which Nazis controlled their opponents - the Nazis controlled all press and culture in a way that only made the Nazis look good a pure. 

7 of 8

Main changes in the war years

The declaration of war in 1939 was not met with the same enthusiasim as the declaration of war in 1914. Rather than celebrations, germans met the news with sombre and grim determination. This is significant because militarism and warfare were key Nazi ideology and so, in this sense, the Nazis failed to instil one of their core values into the majority of Germans. 

Initially, Germany was victorious and met with widespread public support. These victories also solidified views abour Hitler as, under him, the Germany army seized more territory in a few months than it had in the entire first world war. 

However, faith in Hitler's leadership was undermined by a series of military defeats from 1943 onwards. After the defeat at Stalingrad, most German felt they would lose the war and ever-so after 1944 - they felt it was inevitable. Still, the threat of defeat didn't lead to a rejection of the regime; most germans carried on doing their duty and contributing to the war effort. Much support was for patriotic reasons and due to good propaganda which stressed the barbaric nature of teh Russian Red Army. However, many relied on hope and morale to bring germany to success during the war. Support did wavor, but not to a big enough degree that it halted or even killed of Nazi support. 

Food shortages, however, did contribute heavily to sustained Nazi support as Hitler has promised that it wouldn't be a problem and that rationing was only right and fair. The public did not seem to agree. 

8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Nazi 1933-45 resources »