The German Opposition to Hitler, an Appraisal

The German Opposition to Hitler, an Appraisal

The German Opposition to Hitler, an Appraisal

The German Opposition to Hitler, an Appraisal

Excerpt

Anyone who approaches the problems of the German opposition to Hitler will feel impelled to turn first to the most conspicuous evidence of Resistance, to the attempt on the Führer's life which occurred on July 20, 1944. Among a number of planned or miscarried actions, this was the one which actually materialized and came close to the goal. Thus, July 20 has gained something of a symbolic meaning. And whatever the shortcomings of the conspirators, technically or otherwise, whatever their "bad luck" or concurrence of adverse circumstances, the historian's foremost duty should be to pay tribute to the men who worked for the day of reckoning or stood ready for it, and to the many thousands who suffered and died for it. Only a few officers were shot on the spot or had an opportunity to take their own lives. Most of the victims went through months of "interrogation"--of nightly cross-examination, carried on under glaring lights and interrupted by direct torture. They had to face threats to their wives and children, threats which often enough were carried out. It is said to have been an accepted rule in the French Resistance that nobody was expected to withstand the various forms of Gestapo "conditioning" for more than twenty-four hours. If he was able to shield his associates that long, they might find a way of escape.

Measured by such a standard of more than average courage and endurance, the steadfastness of the men and women who were kept in the dreaded cellars of the Gestapo (Prinz-Albrechtstrasse), in dark closets too narrow to sit down in, or elsewhere in solitary confinement, stands out as a testimonial which is in itself of historic significance. It was not the attitude of a few only. About 7,000 persons were arrested, and according to an official source, "based on names and places," more than 4,980 were shot, hanged, or tortured to death . . .

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