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Nazi Germany
Opposition to Nazism
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For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation.
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Learning objectives
Learning objectives
What we will learn in this presentation:
What sorts of people opposed Hitler.
The different reasons they had for doing so.
The methods they adopted.
The effectiveness of their opposition.
Why so few people chose to oppose Hitler.
Do people have a duty to oppose tyrannical
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Introductory discussion points
In what circumstances, if any, do you think people are
justified in breaking the law?
“If there is nothing you are willing to
die for, your life is worthless.”
Do you agree with this statement?
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Opposition from the
'Resistance by necessity'
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Jewish resistance
Organized armed resistance was the most forceful
form of Jewish opposition to the Nazis.
Occupied countries: Jewish authorities in Palestine sent
parachutists into Hungary to aid Jews. In France, various
elements of the Jewish underground consolidated to form
the Armee Juive (Jewish Army).
Camps: At Treblinka, prisoners with stolen weapons
attacked the SS staff. Most of the rebels were shot, though
several dozen prisoners escaped. At Auschwitz, four
Jewish women successfully blew up the gas ovens – all four
were executed.
Ghettos: The inhabitants of the Warsaw ghetto rose up in
rebellion when news leaked out that the Nazis planned to
deport them all to the Treblinka extermination camp.
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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
As German forces entered the Warsaw ghetto in April
1943 to destroy it, the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB)
pelted German tanks with hand grenades.
Heavy machine
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Opposition from Young People
'Resistance due to
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The Swing movement and the Navajos
Some young people chose to oppose the Nazis, even
though they (unlike the Jews) could have lived a quiet life in
the Third Reich.
The Swing movement met to dance and listen to forbidden
jazz music, and welcomed Jews in their clubs.
The Edelweiss Pirates, or Navajos, helped deserters
and refugees during the war – 12 of their leaders were
hanged in Cologne in 1944 for attacking the Gestapo.
On the next slide you can read the 'Song of the Navajos'.
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The Song of the Navajos
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The White Rose
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Religious Opposition
'Resistance on principle'
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Religious opposition – Protestants
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Religious opposition – Catholics
The Catholic Church was even less willing to face up to
Hitler. This was partly because the Nazis had reached a
deal with the Pope (the Concordat).
One exception was Cardinal Galen, who delivered a powerful
sermon against the Nazi euthanasia programme in 1941.
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Cardinal Galen
The sermon sent a shockwave through the Nazi
leadership all the way up to Hitler.
He ordered the arrest of three parish priests who had
distributed Cardinal Galen’s sermon, and then had them
beheaded. However, Hitler left Galen unharmed.
Why do you think that the Nazis chose
not to execute Galen?
Hitler then officially suspended the euthanasia programme
which had accounted for nearly a hundred thousand
deaths by this time. It continued in secret – drugs and
starvation were now used instead of mass gassings.
Was Catholic resistance more significant
than that of the Protestants?
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Opposition from the
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The bomb plot
By the summer of 1944, the German army was on the
retreat. A group of army generals decided to kill Hitler and
then make peace.
On 20 July 1944, Colonel von Stauffenberg, leader of
the plotters, attended a meeting at Hitler’s headquarters.
Present were 24 officers and Hitler himself.
Not long after the start of the
meeting, Stauffenberg made his
excuses and left, leaving behind a
briefcase containing a bomb.
Minutes later, the bomb exploded.
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The bomb plot
Stauffenberg flew to Berlin and announced that Hitler was
dead, and that the army generals were taking over.
He had spoken too soon.
Moments before the bomb
went off, the briefcase
had been moved out of
Hitler’s way – so although
four men were killed in the
conference room, Hitler
was not one of them.
Photograph courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London.
Within hours, the plotters had been
rounded up by the Gestapo. They were
given a short trial, and then shot.
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Why was there so little opposition?
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