Theme: Life in Nazi Germany



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Theme: Life in Nazi Germany

Important Points:

  1. Who opposed the Nazis in Nazis Germany and what impact did this have on the Nazis?

Why was opposition to the Nazis so weak?

You need to think about how each opposition group opposed Hitler and which one posed the biggest threat to Nazi power.

The Nazis did not want any opposition in their ideal Germany all Germans would work together to achieve the same goals -- not seagulls. Within days of taking power Hitler banned all other political parties. The normal democratic right to oppose or protest against government was not going to be allowed.

The Gestapo made it their business to find out about Nazi opponents. They tapped phones, opened letters and spied on suspects. A network of Nazi informers passed on information to them. Suspected opponents were arrested and, if part of a wider network, tortured until they revealed the names of anyone in their group.



The opposition groups

name of opposition group: -- former political opponents

Support: -- the Socialist party, the communist party and the trade unions. They were the Nazis main enemy is in the Weimar Republic. They were huge organisations in those days. The parties lost the elections of 1933 but still have millions of members.

Aims: -- restoration of democracy, free speech and workers democratic rights. The Communists want a workers revolution.

Activities: -- secret meetings, strikes, handing out leaflets, writing anti Nazi graffiti on walls.

when most active: -- 1933 to 1935

What happened: -- all opposition parties and trade unions were banned by July 1933. Their offices were raided, ransacked and closed. Thousands of socialists, including members of the Reichstag and former ministers as well as trade union officials, were arrested and put in concentration camps. Many were beaten up; somewhat tortured; a few were killed. Most were soon released. The aim was to scared people into joining the Nazis, are released into keeping quiet. In the years immediately after 1933, working class opposition to Nazis and continued: from 1933 to 1935 there were 400 strikes. However, the Gestapo continue to make mass arrests -- for example, two thirds of all Communist party members were arrested. Many died in the camps. Many more went into exile abroad. Socialist, Communists and trade union organisations were forced underground, holding secret meetings, occasionally handed out leaflets, waiting for the day when democracy would return to Germany.

name of opposition group: -- the churches

Support: -- about 22 million people belonged to the Roman Catholic church -- 32% of the population. About 40 million belonged to.

Protestant churches -- 58% of the population. There are other, smaller Christian churches to. The churches are by far the largest non-Nazi organisation left in Germany after 1933. They have bishops to lead them and a priest or pastor in every parish, to whom many ordinary Germans looked for guidance.

Aims: -- these are large organisations embrace a variety of political views. Some church leaders actively support the Nazis, some actively opposed them. Most are somewhere in between and want to keep religion politics separate. Some just want to keep their important positions.

Activities: -- they carry out baptisms, marriages and burials. The church is also ran many schools: two thirds of all German children go to a church school.



When most active: -- throughout the whole of the Nazi period, 1933 to 1945.

What happened: -- Hitler hated Christianity. But he dared not touch it and close down the churches because they had such massive support among the German people. He therefore tried to make deals with them.

Roman Catholics -- in 1933 he made an agreement with the Roman Catholic Church that it would not interfere with politics. In return the Nazis would leave them alone.

Protestants -- the Nazis hoped to bring the Protestant church under Nazi control. A ‘Reich Church’ was set up, with the slogan ‘with the swastika on our chests and a cross in our hearts’. Reich Church passes had to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler. Many refused and by 1934 6000 Protestant pastors had left the Reich Church and joined at noon, non-Nazi, confessional Church. Hitler was determined to control the lives and minds of the young. In spite of these promises to leave the churches alone, in 1936 all church youth groups were stopped and by 1939 nearly all church schools have been closed down. Overall, church opposition to the Nazis did not go very far: they did not, for example, criticised the night of broken glass. Only 50 pastors and one bishop were actually put in prison for opposition activities of speeches.

Dietrich Bonheoffer -- he pointed out that Nazis was anti-Christian as early as 1933. His job was training young men to be ministers. He told them that you cannot, and should not, separate religion politics and that true religion is standing up to a corrupt Tory the government. The Nazis closed his College in 1940. He could have escaped to Britain, where he had many friends, but chose to stay and speak out against Nazism. He was arrested in 1943 and executed in 1945. His ideas had been influential throughout the world since his death.

name of opposition group: -- army officers

support: -- a group of army officers

aims: -- to replace Hitler and seize power

activities: -- attempting to assassinate Hitler

when most active: -- 1943 to 1944

What happened: -- many upper-class Germans were scornful of Hitler; it is lower class origins in street fighting past. They had supported the Kaiser and traditionally served the army, as officers. Hitler bought the support of the army in 1934 by weakening the essay on the night of the Long knives. However, Hitler's racial policies horrified many of the officer class. And if they were against Hitler's rush to war in 1939 and oppose the invasion of the USSR in 1941. They were horrified by the brutal actions of the SS in Eastern Europe, which were against their strict code of honour in war. They also resented Hitler meddling in military strategy. When victory turned to defeat in 1943, they decided that Hitler had to be removed. There was said to be dozens of plots to assassinate Hitler. The one that came nearest to success was organised by Claus Von Stauffenberg, who planted a bomb in Hitler's military headquarters in July 1944. It went off, the Hitler was not clear. Hitler used a failed plot to round up all his own opponents, whether they were part of the bomb plot or not. As a result 5000 people were arrested and executed.

name of opposition group: -- young people –Edelweiss pirates

Support: -- working class young people. Not a United organisation, but local groups go in their own way. Impossible to say how many are involved -- a few hundred young people in each big city at the most.

aims: -- avoiding Hitler youth meetings and having fun

Activities: -- meeting up to sing songs, making fun of Hitler, the Nazis and the Hitler youth. Having sex. Drinking. Wearing badges of the Edelweiss (a white Alpine flower), or skull and crossbones. Some groups we checked shirts, black shorts and white socks. Some groups are quite political and beat up Nazis.

when most active: -- 1938 to 1944

What happened: -- youth groups like the Edelweiss Pirates infuriated the Nazis because they rejected the whole Nazi idea. In 1944 the Hitler youth leader in Cologne was killed so some Edelweiss pirates were hanged in revenge.

name of opposition group: -- young people -- a white rose group

Support: -- a small group of students at Munich University.

Aims: -- to shame German people by protesting against the Nazis. To urge Germans to sabotage the war effort and overthrow Hitler.

Activities: -- spreading anti-Nazi messages through handing out leaflets, putting up posters and writing graffiti on walls.

When most active: -- some 1942; January to February 1943.



What happened: -- the white rose group were disgusted at the lack of opposition to the Nazis and their persecution of the Jews. They wrote ‘ Germany's name will be disgraced forever unless German you finally rises up, takes revenge, smashes into torturers and builds and do, spiritual Europe’. The group's leaders Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl were arrested and tortured before being executed.

Why didn't many Germans oppose the Nazis?

Some people didn't like the Nazis, but were scared to say so to anyone else. This is because they know exactly what happened to those who did: the Gestapo calls on them and they disappear. Therefore terror played a huge part.

Some people were worried about what the Nazis were doing, but listened to them explain things and this made sense to them. Therefore propaganda helped to control position.

Some people liked the Nazis they believed Hitler was the best thing to happen to Germany fee is. This is because some wanted the Communists to be crushed and wanted Germany to be made into a strong country, just like they were before World War I, and mood Adolf Hitler would destroy the treaty of Versailles which had destroyed Germany. Therefore there were some genuine supporters.

Some people hated the Nazis but could do nothing because other political parties had been banned to there was nowhere to turn to. This isolated Nazi opposition and they found it hard to communicate.

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Revision Card

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Life in Nazi Germany

Opposition to the Nazis in Nazi Germany- former political opponents, The Church, Army officers, Edelweiss Pirates, White Rose Group

How did the Nazis control those that opposed them? What methods did opposition use to oppose the Nazis? How successful was the opposition? What was their impact on the Nazis? Why was there so little opposition to the Nazis? Opposition, church resistance/Why was there so little opposition to Hitler from the churches in Germany? To identify churchmen who did speak out against the Nazis: Niemoller and Bonhoeffer.

To explain why there was relatively little Christian opposition to the Nazis.

Opposition, youth resistance/Why did some young Germans oppose the Nazis and with what results? To identify the aims and methods used by youth opposition to the Nazis, particularly the White Rose Group and the Edelweiss Pirates.

To evaluate the impact of this opposition on the Nazi regime.



















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