Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich

Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich

Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich

Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich

Synopsis

This is a thematically arranged text illustrating popular resisitance to Nazism in Germany from 1930-1945, and the affect of Nazism on everyday life. The book combines a lucid, synthesized analysis together with a wide selection of integrated source material taken from pamphlets, diaries, recent oral testimonies, correspondence and more. Different chapters focus on social groups and activities, such as youth movements, religion, Jewish Germans, and the working classes.

Excerpt

what was its character and immediate appeal?

Fifty years on, whether we like it or not, all traces of Hitler and his political movement have not gone away. National Socialist insignia and slogans can still be used to shock and insult. Novels and films about the Third Reich can grip the imagination as much as ever. Glance at newspapers and you can confirm that the regime’s crimes are still used as a yardstick against which to measure the worst atrocities from around the world. For both those who actually experienced life in Germany from 1933 to 1945 and their relatives, something personal remains at stake when Hitler is discussed. This is doubly so when those involved were somehow perpetrators or victims of the crimes and carnage he inspired. With every anniversary of some event from the Second World War, time and again people have to confront the dual question: what really happened and how should we understand it?

The community of historians which researches into Hitler’s Germany cannot provide united answers to some of its most central problems. Why did Hitler and those around him decide to go to war in 1939? Tim Mason (1993, pp. 307-16) emphasised a crisis in the German economy; Gerhard Weinberg (1995, pp. 35, 148) says it was for reasons of ideology and cold political calculation. Why did this group bring about the Holocaust? Martin Broszat (1985, pp. 397-414) blamed the frustration of the German attack on the USSR experienced in autumn 1941; Christopher Browning (1992, p. 121) highlights the euphoria of military victory typical of the previous July. And yet, whatever the specifics of even the most shattering of policy decisions, sooner or later we encounter the unavoidable fact that the ‘radicalized, political desperados’ who ran Germany were not operating in a vacuum (Broszat, 1986, p. 81). Their policies both had implications for and made demands of average Germans. Inevitably we have to address the relationship between National Socialism and the German people. In our first document David Welch explains why this also presents a challenge to historians.

Document 1.1

The popular image of German society under Nazi rule is a confusing one, ranging from the adoration of crowds surrounding Hitler and other leading members of the hierarchy, to the bestiality of the concentration camps and fear of the Gestapo. It is a picture which raises questions crucial to our

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