Opposition and Resistance

Opposition From Working Class Young People

During the 1930s the Nazis banned all opposition youth groups except the HJ. There were independent youth groups around like the Wandervogel, which was law abiding but unconventional, or wild cliques that were criminal or semi-criminal in nature such as the Edelweiss Pirates, a group of young working-class youths that were anti-Hitler Youth and rejected the official and militaristic discipline. They often hummed banned songs and were encouraged by the destruction from bombing. THe Gestapo and Hitler Youth used their powers to crush the Edelweiss Pirates.

Opposition From Middle Class Young People

The middle class youth had their own resistance too, known as the Swing Youth. They were motivated by the desire to have a good time. They rejected Nazi values by listening to swing and jazz, and wearing English-style clothes. They placed themselves in opposition to the regime, but were not overtly political or attempting to overthrow the regime. The White Rose group were more political, and their main audience was the educated middle-class. They painted slogans like “Hitler Mass Murderer” on buildings and were eventually caught by the Gestapo.

Opposition From the Churches

The Roman Catholic Church supported the regime at first, and supported the invasion of the USSR. It was left to individual churchmen to raise their protests. Bishop Galen spoke out in sermons about the T4 euthanasia programme and although Galen was not persecuted by the regime, other priests that spoke out about the regime were. The Protestant church was the only Christian body in Germany to protest about the regime’s treatment of the Jews. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was an outspoken critic of the regime, called for wider resistance to the treatment of the Jews but was banned from speaking out in public from 1940,and was arrested in 1943 by the Gestapo.

Communist Opposition

The underground communist resistance had been severely weakened by the Gestapo in the 1930s, but had managed to survive in some areas. The Nazi-Soviet Pact undermined any KPD resistance, but the invasion of the USSR in 1941 made communist resistance increase. The main ways they tried to spread their resistance was through leaflets, and there were ways that the Gestapo managed to infiltrate these groups. The movement did have no way in gaining wide support as the USSR became their biggest enemy.

Kreisau Circle

Many of the elites who opposed the Nazis were in the Kreisau Circle. The common belief between them was one of personal freedom and individuality. They were the intellectual powerhouse of the non-Communist opposition and they help three resistant meetings between 1942-3 but then were broken up by the Gestapo.

Assassination Attempts

There were a number of attempts on Hitler’s life. On 1938 there was an attempt to get army generals to arrest Hitler, but as this was not to be done, they decided that an assassination attempt would be the only option. The first assassination attempt took place in 1943, when a bomb was placed on Hitler’s plane. This failed to explode. In 1944, there was a second attempt where a bomb was placed in Hitler’s headquarters in East Prussia, to be followed by a military coup after the assassination. The assassination and the coup failed. The bomb plot gained little sympathy amongst Germans as the plotters made no attempt to arouse popular support. The plotters were vilified as traitors, and most Germans seemed to agree.

Give an example of youth resistance?
Your answer should include: Edelweiss Pirates / Swing Youth / White Rose
Give an example of church resistance?
Your answer should include: Protestant Church / Bohnhoeffer
Give an example of an assassination attempt?
Your answer should include: July 1944 / July 1943 / Operation Valkyrie