Opposition and dissent in Nazi Germany, 1933-45

  • Created by: ss_
  • Created on: 14-03-18 14:52

Types of Opposition

  • Active resistance - includes acts that were intended to overthrow the regime. Included acts such as attempts to assassinate Hitler.
  • Protest - intended to alter specific aspects of Nazi policy. In this sense, they were not designed to end Nazism or replace Hitler, but rather to lead to specific reforms. Included acts such as strikes, or the actions of the Catholic priests that were designed to end Nazi persecution of Catholic schools.
  • Non-conformity - acts in this category could have had any motivation, or none at all. Included telling anti-Nazi jokes, listening to American jazz, failing to give the Nazi salute or complaining about Nazi rule. 
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Active Resistance

Broadly, there was little active resistance in the period 1933-39. However this is unsurprising as independent organisations were either destroyed or 'co-ordinated' by the Nazis - so resistance was almost impossible to organise. 

The best examples of resistance were the three unsuccessful assassination plots against Hitler that took place in 1935, 1938 and 1939.

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Protest was more common. The Catholic Church remained independent of the Nazi government throughout the whole period of Nazi rule, so it was able to speak out against some Nazi policies.

For example, they protested over gov attempts to censor/control Catholic newspapers. Catholic protest won an important victory regarding the rights of Catholic schools in 1935, reversing the gov decision to ban crucifixes from classrooms. Also, Bishop Galen of Munster protested against the Aktion T4 'euthanasia' programme which made the gov publicly back down.

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  • Non-conformity was remarkably widespread
  • It should be remembered that small acts such as greeting a Jew on the street or refusing to give a Nazi salute took enormous courage because acts like this risked arrest
  • Swing Youth - middle-class young people listened to jazz, jazz had been banned since 1935, the ** were prepared to take action against jazz fans e.g. two Jutta and Inga Madlung were sent to a concentration camp simply for owning recordings of jazz
  • Edelweiss Pirates - loosely organised, aged between 14 and 17, known to ambush members of Nazi youth organisations and beat them up
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