German Resistance against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad, 1938-1945

By Klemens Von Klemperer | Go to book overview

I
Resistance and Exile

1. The Beck--Goerdeler--von Hassell Group

The groups which formed within the military and civilian opposition against the Nazis were loose and amorphous. In reaction to regimentation, propaganda, and terror, it was natural that like-minded dissenters should have veered towards each other to consult, to strengthen each other's resolve, and to do what could be done jointly under the prevailing circumstances. As things were, even within the Resistance, the informal groupings which did take shape were looked at askance by some as being too risky and given to too elaborate theorizing. 1

The leadership of the military and civilian Resistance fell, as if by co- option, into the hands of General Ludwig Beck and Carl Goerdeler, the head of state and chancellor-designate of the conspiracy respectively. Chief of the German Army General Staff between 1935 and 1938, Beck was not the most typical of German officers; 'not the type of the military man but rather that of a thinker', recorded Eduard Spranger. 2 Beck was a soldier steeped in the Prussian tradition of service and yet not a militarist. A student of Clausewitz, he had learnt to correlate warfare with politics and was a critic of Ludendorff's 'total war' theories. Like most of his fellow officers, he initially welcomed the advent of the Nazis and their 'national policies' aimed at overcoming Versailles and Weimar until finally he recoiled from their domestic and foreign enormities. With his resignation in August 1938, in protest against Hitler's planned Czechoslovak adventures, Beck came to rethink the limits of obedience. He, who earlier had said that 'revolution and mutiny are words not to be found in a German officer's dictionary,' 3 now became the generally acknowledged 'sovereign' of the German Resistance. 4

Carl Goerdeler was Beck's counterpart in the civilian Resistance. Beck and Goerdeler's paths were similar in many ways, and indeed eventually they converged. Like Beck, Goerdeler was an ardent patriot, if not a nationalist, while at the same time he was committed to the higher canons of human dignity and the Christian faith. Like Beck he translated the ethos of his native Prussia into an attitude of unbending independence and open-mindedness. Also like Beck Goerdeler always remained a monarchist at heart, and it was his sense of duty rather than preference that made him enter the service of the Republic. He could never quite reconcile himself to the benefits of a free-

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German Resistance against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad, 1938-1945
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xiv
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Introduction 13
  • I - Resistance and Exile 19
  • CHAPTER 1 65
  • 2 - Thinking for the British Empire? 82
  • CHAPTER 2 134
  • 3 - 'Make a Revolution in Germany for the German People'? 154
  • CHAPTER 3 198
  • 4 - Widerstand and the Forging of the Grand Alliance 217
  • CHAPTER 4 250
  • 5 - Ecumenical Dialogue or 'the War Behind the War' 264
  • CHAPTER 5 298
  • 6 - The Vision and the Mirage 315
  • CHAPTER 6 396
  • Conclusion 432
  • Conclusion 440
  • Bibliography 442
  • Index 473
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