The SPD and KPD were expected to mount resistance to Hitler. Hitler feared that the unions which were linked the SPD would stage general strike to stop the NAZI takeover. However, due to divisions within the parties and between the parties, they posed no serious threat. The SPD were unprepared for a Nazi takeover, and although they campaigned against the Nazis, they faced the most action and violence from the SA. The KPD was better prepared, but the Gestapo worked hard to ensure that there was little threat from the Communists. Secret Communist activity was not entirely eradicated by the Gestapo – there were still underground meetings and plots, but there was in effect, little that could be done.
Before 1933 Germany was the most unionised country, and the unions held great power over the government. Hitler was worried about strikes getting in the way of his power. Some unions attempted to strike, which did cause problems for the Nazis, but they arrested leaders and put them in prison, meaning people were put off carrying out the same offence again.
The Christian churches were the only organisation in NAZI Germany the retained their own ideology. They were aware that they would lose out if they tried to fight the Nazis, but the Nazis were aware that they could not get rid of the churches. The protestant church was split when the NAZI regime attempted to coordinate them in into the Volksgemeinschaft. Many pastors would not accept being a part of this, and spoke out about the new regime. Many churches refused to display the swastika flag, and when two priests were arrested there were mass demonstrations. The Nazis failed to silence the confessional church, but it did not form full opposition. The catholic church was more united, and retained more independence, however the catholic church attempted to come to terms with the new regime. When the concordat of 1933 was signed and the privileges granted to the catholic church were under attack, the catholic church condemned the NAZI regime. Although many individual priests and members opposed the regime’s religious policies, the church itself did not move beyond a narrow defence of its independence meaning that resistance was futile.
In the early years of the NAZI regime the Hitler youth was able to channel youthful energy and rebelliousness into officially approved activities. However, there were growing signs of disillusionment, for reasons such as membership was compulsory, it made great demands on their free time, and endless military trails. The response of many young people was to opting out, either by letting their membership lapse or just not attending. Some young people hummed tunes that had been banned at meetings. Some young people formed gangs to show the independents, such as the Meuten gang, that but they were little more than criminal gangs.
Many members of the German elites had serious misgivings about the NAZI party, in particular Hitler. Army generals and senior civil servants regarded Hitler as a threat to the old Germany. However, there is not much they could do to oppose, once Hitler had consolidated his power in an alliance with the army, big business and conservative politicians. Opposition to Hitler within the army and civil service peaked in 1938. They did not agree with his foreign policy, although they did agree with building Germany’s military strength. Hitler’s response was to purge those that opposed from the army.
- What political resistance was there?
- Your answer should include: Hardly Any / Political Opponents / Arrested / Concentration Camps / Parties Disbanded
- Did the churches resist?
- Your answer should include: Very Little / Independent / Against Regime / Priests Arrested / Concordat Signed
Explanation: Very little, they got away with staying fairly independent, and although tried to speak out against the regime, they did not get very far, as priests were arrested and the concordat was signed.
- Why did the unions/workers not pose much threat?
- Your answer should include: Arrested / Striked
Explanation: Because they were arrested if they striked.