A mass social movement is a significant group that attempt to bring about change to society. There was opposition to the Nazi’s from 1933 onwards throughout Germany. Opposition that was never able to claim to be a mass social movement. There was amongst large sections of the public a sense more of outward conformity rather than mutiny. Those groups that did exist were divided and of little wide spread significance. Opposition is notoriously difficult to measure within police states like Nazi Germany.
The absence of free elections makes any statistical analysis impossible almost all elections within Nazi Germany returned massive victories for Hitler implying internal corruption and coercion “90% vote for Hitler as fuehrer. ” Limits upon freedoms of speech and the banning of opposition means that opposition must be kept secret at the time to avoid persecution, printed information was therefore very hazardous. We cannot subsequently find many written examples of anti Nazi propaganda from inside the nation. Any assessment of the nature of opposition will therefore be hugely subjective.
Nazi ideological undermines and contradicts the basic moral premises of many groups within German society. It is therefore perhaps surprising that a mass social movement didn’t exist during the third Reich. We cannot explain this fact by examining the faults of the opposition alone we must also strength of the regime. The state had many factors working in its favor to suppress such groups from emerging. The tremendous speed with which Hitler was able to transform the Weimar democracy into a fascist dictatorship was hugely beneficial to him and the party.
Opposition was made illegal before it had even conceived of itself. It is difficult to organize and mobilize opposition groups quickly at the best of times. Once doing this was made illegal it is even harder given the repercussions of such attempts, imprisonment or death. Hitler move to power had an heir of legitimacy to it; any opposition would therefore not only be opposing Hitler but the largest minority of the German people. The small core of opposition cannot create a mass movement without a base of public support, Hitler’s legitimate rise to power suggest that large group of political opponents didn’t exist.
Closely linked to this is the idea that suppression was not as central to the regime as is often supposed and that instead large sections of the German people actually supported Hitler. Gobbles ministry of public enlightenment and propaganda acted to reduce opposition in two ways. Firstly, by creating a fear of persecution. Propaganda also acted to increasing the popularity of the regime, for example the idea of Hitler as superhuman and infallible meant that people wouldn’t challenge him as he was incapable of being wrong. Force was an iatrical part of the Nazi state.
The Gestapo, central police and concentration camps were all means of reducing opposition both directly and indirectly. The camps and officers act as a deterrent to those with radical consciences and also as a means of removing more active opponents. There are examples of how German children would report their own parents to the Gestapo; this shows the degree of loyalty that was created in Germany, which acted to de policies society. Education supported the regime, children would be taught the importance of Nazi ideals and values. Education was also less advanced, focusing more upon physical than mental development.
SPD suggest that there was a great deal of public ignorance surrounding concentration camps. Independent thought was suspended amongst much of the German youth during this period. It is plausible to suggest that the Nazi’s were so popular that opposition was unable to become wide spread. This is problematic Hitler’s popularity in fair open elections was dropping. He performed worse in the last Weimar election than in the previous one. Also the number of people willing to stand against the regime was considerable given the penalizes relating to such action. This implies that had repression not been so intense more would have opposed.
Therefore it is possible to conclude that. The efficiency of the regimes propaganda, and the degree of repression within Nazi Germany helped to minimize the levels of opposition that existed and allowed a fai?? ade of popular consent. The left provides opposition within most capitalist right wing nations. The Nazi’s were primarily anti communist and so it appears to be likely that strong opposition will exist here. They saw the threat from Communist as being very real and placed great importance upon crushing the Left therefore it is possible to say that the left were potentially very strong sources of opposition.
The clichi?? “united we stand divided we fall” appears to be hugely significant here. The left and the right of German politics enjoyed reasonably equal success towards the end of the Weimar republic. The union of those at the right and the division of those on the left appears to be key explanations of why the right was able to form the government. The left as a political category over simplifies the nature of what is essentially many complex groups. Take the main two the KPD and SPD these left wing groups held hugely different understanding of what society should be.
So much so, that they despise one another as much as they despised the Nazi’s and the right. The divisions in the left meant that they were unable to mount a serious level of opposition. KPD sees SPD as “social fascists” and the SPD sees the KPD as “Moscow puppets” and “Totalitarians” not one example of outward collaboration between the two groups can be found. The left suffered from deep routed ideological differences which meant they couldn’t unit and were therefore less effective as opponents.
The Left were not only ideologically divided they were effected by the Nazi’s especially by the events of Feb-July 1933. 933 KPD had 300,000 members; 1/2 were affected by Nazi persecution; many more fled or simply kept quite. Therefore the Nazi’s were able to largely curb this group through fear. The left both outlawed physically removed and unpopular due in no small part to the propaganda of the regime especially surrounding the Reichstag fire found themselves unable to provide sufficient opposition of topple the Regime. They instead focused more realistically upon maintain interest in left wing ideology. The KPD kept the Cadre together, passing information to organization outside Germany.
The Red Orchestra operated to supply military secrets to Russia and sabotaged German armaments production. The circle was infiltrated and smashed in 1942 and 500 executed. The SPD also failed to create a mass social movement. The smuggling of postcard sized information packages. Organization in factories like sports clubs promoted left wing ideals. Word of mouth also used to propagate so not to provide any proof of illegal activities. Those propagating anti Nazi messages were in very difficult position they only able to talk to people they trusted as if they told the wrong person their idea then death or imprisonment would inevitable follow.
Attempts by the KPD and SPD at opposition were without any short term social plan or huge popularity and therefore cannot be viewed as either mass or even as the actions of a social movement. Although division was important the main problem of the Left appear to stem from the Nazi suppression thus strengthening the above case made to suggest that the strength of the regime more than the weakness of the opposition can explain the levels of opposition. The SPD themselves have released some evidence suggesting that the nazi’s were largly popular.
A report from SPD in Germany Feb. 936 found that “the average worker is primarily interested in work and not in democracy” Hitler’s notions of “bread and Games” appear to be valid, if the mass were as the SPD suggested politically content then the idea of a mass social movement is unrealistic. The inability of the left, a group that commonly involved in neutralizing the right wing radicalism, to deal with the terror of the regime meant that other groups become of increasing importance. The church here more than ever become political. The international influence of the Church makes it difficult for the Nazi to have the same influence over its members.
They did though attempt to introduce their influence in the form of Nazi pastors like Mullter put into powerful position within the church. Martin Niemoeller established “Pastors Emergency League” to oppose the radicalization of the Church. 1934 two sate bishops’ Theopil Wurm and Hans Meiser were arrested. Demonstration followed. Described by a religious circular “miraculous” what exactly miraculous means in this context is hugely ambiguous? There is though the early sign of a mass movement here. Hitler appeased them granting them a larger degree of autonomy from his rule.
The church achieved the Nazi withdrawal from their affairs at least in the short term; he continued to play a role in more subtle ways. Via replacing the church’s influence over the German youth and replacing it with Nazi youth movements. The Catholic Church carries even greater international influence, it also opposed the regime. Here the education divide was pronounced. The church felt that “a hate for ‘Rome’ had been engendered even in the ears of children” It wasn’t the case that the church desired to bring replace the Nazi’s as the rulers of Germany they simply wished to be left alone.
The Concordat was an agreement between the Nazi’s and the Catholic Church that states neither would interfere in each other business. This shows the church didn’t really oppose Hitler that strongly at the time. They did though as the regime radicalized begin for example Monsignore Bernhard Lichtenberg, dean of st. Hedwig’s in Berlin, asked his congregation to pray for “Jews and the inmates of the concentration camps” The fact that there were no huge outbursts from huge groups to this suggest the camps suggest that it became more difficult to oppose as Hitler’s authority grew.
Paradoxically it appears that as the Nazi became more radical the greater the desire to oppose them amongst the people but the greater the risk of that opposition and subsequently at the point when opposition was potentially greatest it was outwardly at least significant. This would suggest that mass movement is unlikely or very difficult in opposition to any strong fascist regime. . By 1936 tension heightened when Nazi’s remove crucifixes from schools. Which resulted in huge opposition demonstrations? This showed the opposition could be strong enough to attain change as they were introduced.
They achieved no real successes with their push for ending of the killing of either Jews or of the mentally disabled. This is the closest example of a mass movement. Here though it was motivated not for a desire for dramatic social change. The church played the more pronounced role in opposing the Nazi’s. It was though mostly individual radicalism rather than well organized orchestrated attacks upon the regime. The size of the movement is evident in the fact that over 4000 clergy had died in concretion camps up to 1945.
The force of the Nazi is still evident here. Yet there achievement were however courageous and daring still limited. Although perhaps the desire for social change was present the church made few moves or attempts to realize this change and subsequently cannot be seen as a mass social movement. The youth is also was a source of opposition in the third rich. The “white rose” hans and Sophie Scholl Printed anti Nazi pamphlets especially after Stalingrad. There are other equally unsuccessful examples that were all either killed or silenced.
The Youth as social groups were probably the most pro Nazi within Germany therefore the difficulties faced with propagating anti Nazi ideas within this group were even more pronounced here. The youth movement of the Nazi regime was too effective to allow for a great deal of youth opposition. Here both the movements were unorganized and the regime was at its most efficient there was too much standing in the way of youth opposition for it so achieving mass social status. Opposition took form of isolated cells’ with such wide views, ranging from ultra left to pro monarchist, groups probably more opposed to one another than to the Nazi’s . Nazism embodied albeit in an extreme form, many of the basic attitudes of a very large section of the German people” Nationalism, Militarism, Cultural conservatism and Strict policies on minorities and deviant group’s stricter penal code. The weakness of the opposition and the strength of the regime both conspired to prevent any form of mass social movement arising to challenge the Nazi’s. The latter being the dominant force. The most serious threat came from the Church but even they were unable to amass anywhere near the support necessary for a mass movement.