The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics, 1918-1945

By John W. Wheeler-Bennett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
FROM THE FRITSCH CRISIS TO THE OUTBREAK OF WAR (February 1938-September 1939)

(i)

'BEFORE 1938-9 the German Generals were not opposed to Hitler', Field-Marshal von Blomberg stated some ten years later. 'There was no reason to oppose him since he produced the results which they desired. After this time some Generals began to condemn his methods and lost confidence in the power of his judgment. However, they failed as a group to take any definite stand against him, although a few of them tried to do so and, as a result, had to pay for this with their lives or their positions.'1

This statement, made a short while before the Marshal's death, may well be taken as a succinct summary of 'Opposition' and 'Resistance' in Germany toward the Nazi régime. When Hitler came to power in 1933 he had the unequivocal opposition only of his fellow authoritarians, the Communists. The Conservatives were his allies; the Army tolerated him; the Centre, whatever its mental reservations, condoned his Government by voting for him; and the Social Democrats sought to gain the best of all possible worlds by condemning his internal programme and supporting his foreign policy, and thereby gained 'an ignoble truce' which profited them nothing.

The majority of the German people, for one reason or another, whether from despair or ambition, from revenge or frustration, were in favour of the Führer, and the minority, large though it might have been and sincere in its opposition, was soon either crushed or cowed into submission or driven abroad, there to eat the bitter bread of exile and to eke out the between-worlds existence of the émigré. By the summer of 1934 the last spark of anything resembling organized opposition inside Germany had been practically extinguished, and, though it flared up again momentarily in the following

____________________
1
Sworn statement of Field-Marshal von Blomberg, made at Nuremberg November 7, 1945.

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