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Dominika Bulzacka- Nowak

Why did Hitler not face more opposition within Germany?

When we think about the dictatorship, we are almost sure that people do not agree with such state and the dictator will have to face with big opposition. Also Ian Kershaw said that the more totalitarian state is, the more opposition is growing. But when it comes to Germany, the situation was different. There was some opposition but only to some small extent. Why did Hitler not face more opposition from German people? Its hard to ask that question because we must consider the issue what actually such opposition would refer to; the whole Nazi Party, policies or just Hitler himself? As for me, that little opposition that developed was more directed to Adolf Hitler than to the whole Nazi Party. But why was it so little? Of course, little opposition doesnt mean that there was completely no opposition. Nazi regime had to face the opposition of the Churches, youth, the army, government, judiciary and the workers. There were also some opposition parties but they were minorities. All of these groups had of course different form of opposition but they were mainly focused on their own aims, not for the good future of their country. Theres a simple reason for such little opposition: most of the people were satisfied with the Nazi regime or they just thought so. Under the leadership of Hitler, some things changed for granted: reparations ended, unemployment fallen, situation of women get better. Ideology also appealed to people because it was mainly based on the traditional values. Propaganda had also big impact on such weak opposition; the myth about Fuhrer had shown Hitler as a savior and was a promise of the brighter future of German people. Society didnt want to fight with something that could improve their standards of living. Only the institutions, which were endangered by the Nazi regime, protested, for example Churches. Also the minorities tried to resist but few individuals couldnt oppose to the whole regime. Such groups could fuse but the lack of co-operation and organization caused the success of the opposition almost impossible. The activity of the SS and Gestapo also caused that Hitler faced such little opposition. These two organisation were the reasons for the atmosphere of anxiety 1

and fear among those who tried to oppose. People deeply believed that SS and Gestapo are everywhere but it was another myth because the power of them was strongly exaggerated. Of course there were too little members to be able to control the whole country but people were living in fear and didnt even want to try to change something. In the source 17.15, M. Housden suggests that the role of the opposition was a little bit underestimated. On the other hand, he admitts that Hitler did not face big wave of opposition but we cannot forget that even some little forms of opposition desire approval. Housden also notices the disproportion of the opposition to the power of Nazis and Hitler. One of the reasons for that is the propaganda and theoretical improvement of the standards of living, for example of working class. He also points out that the most developed opposition was that one in private life, in which people didnt feel so much fear of the Gestapo or SS. Also the Church played its role in the opposition in the Germany. There were some priests teaching how to stay good Christian and resist the Nazi regime. But as a whole, Housden admitts that that opposition never came out of the houses of German people to such big extent that it could be a serious threaten to the Hitler. There was an opposition but it was unnoticeable. Housden also suggests that such small opposition is caused by a human nature because we do not even know if we were German people, we would do something more than them. When it comes to the Hidens point of view in the source 17.16, he blamed the initial actions taken by the Hitler regime to widespread nonconformity and dissent within the people. It was intended to make opposition unable to grow on the bigger scale. People couldnt work together and what could do some individuals? Resistance should be organised and contain massess of people, not only some of them. Society in Germany was divided and couldnt cooperate and thats why the opposition was such little. Source 17.17 says that German society accepted the opposition which was seen as something right and even needed. But it was also treated as an act of extremist which was extremely dangerous. Despite that fact, there were great amounts of people executed or just punished for political crimes. But on the other hand, there was a disproportion between these amounts and the whole population of German people. The fear of the punishment was stronger than their will to oppose and change something in the Nazi regime. 2

In D. Peukerts point of view, German peoples rights and freedom were limited to such extent that great masses didnt want to oppose, not only because of the fear, but because of being used to the situation in the Nazi Germany. Also terror stopped people from opposition, the control from the Gestapo limited their actions. There was a resistance but it more came from the individuals rather than masses and it couldnt work. Summarizing, Hitler did not face more opposition because of majorities which were satisfied of his leadership and because of the fact that minorities that decided to oppose couldnt co-operate or organize themselves in bigger groups. The fear of being executed was stronger than the desire to throw Nazi regime. Nazi ideology appealed to people and was basing on their hope for better future and the successes at the beginning encouraged people to believe Hitler and to follow him rather than oppose to him.