why was there so little resistance to hitlers rule within germany

Throughout history it seems that human nature is to rebel, fight; resist.

We are never ready to accept impositions, restrictions, changes, oppression; never without a fight. It is as if a part of us recognizes that it will cease to be, a part of us drives our will into acting. Yet during Hitler’s rule resistance’s voice was mute, people complied almost blindly. In this essay the reasons for this lack of resistance will be discussed.

One of Hitler’s first actions was to fulfill his promises to the German public.Hitler and the Nazis promised the abolition of democracy after a period were democracy seemed to have failed in many aspects. Hitler banned other political parties when he rose to power. He made the KPD illegal in the context of the Reichstag fire.

The Socialist party was banned soon afterwards. In 1933, the stable Zentrum party collapsed under the pressure of Nazism. Hitler had in only a few months been able to eliminate political opposition in the form of parties. This was the beginning of his attempt to drown all forms of resistance to his rule.

One of the reasons why there was so little resistance to Hitler’s rule in Germany was because many people were content with their way of living. Many German citizens enjoyed a good standard of living. At the time there seemed to be little reason for presenting resistance to Hitler’s rule, many people were ready to accept their new lives under Nazi rule without much objection due to many factors. Proof of this is the fact that the Gestapo functioned due to unsolicited help from the general population “Gestapo records.

.. came in an unsolicited way from ordinary German citizens”1.Possibly this cooperation with the secret police was product of a satisfied population, undoubtedly bombarded with propaganda and acting out of fear, it seems that this compliance nonetheless is product of a population which was satisfied with their standard of living.

Possibly the main reason for compliance with the regime is the economic recovery which Germany experienced under Nazi rule. Hitler promised to reduce unemployment in Germany in the 1932 elections when the numbers amounted to 6 million, in only three years (1933-1936)Hitler, through various programs had reduced unemployment by 5 million. Hitler began rearming Germany rapidly, creating or stimulating new heavy industries where jobs were needed to mass-produce weapons, planes, tanks and artillery. Hitler also created a compulsory military service that ensured young germans a job for six months, it was not a well-paid job but it was a job anyhow; this was only one of many policies targeted at Germany’s youth but this will be discussed later on.

Hitler was able to fulfill the promise he made to Germany by creating 5 million jobs whilst the memory of a collapsed economy and massive unemployment was still very present in the minds of many germans.Hitler also sought to create monumental projects in Germany like the motorways that quickly produced new jobs and projected an image of Germany as a sort of vanguard amongst the rest of Europe. Hitler set out to abolish unemployment in Germany while developing a parallel plan of rearmament and national unity. By rearming, the army was tamed and through large national schemes Hitler created the notion of a strong and growing Germany.

The people in Germany had satisfactory reasons to want to ensure the safety of their new standards of living, especially after the disaster and disillusion of the Weimar Republic years.But the price paid for a satisfactory way of life was colossal and unexpected for the citizens captive in their own acquiescence. Hitler’s rule was one tinged with violence. The nazi regime left scars in Germany of persecution, violence, fear and dismissal of human integrity.

Concentration camps were heavily used during Hitler’s rule, only during the first two months of nazi rule one concentration camp was set up with the capacity to accommodate 5,000 prisoners. Concentration camps were built originally to imprison anyone who presented opposition to the party such as communists, religious leaders, socialists, writers or simply anyone who was suspicious (standards were very subjective at times). The Gestapo was set up to persecute and eliminate any form of resistance to the regime. With the aid of the population, this secret police force created the notion of permanent vigilance in nazi Germany.

This was so to the extreme of children accusing their parents of being communists.Germany’s population was under the fear of constant vigilance, few were brave enough to even speak out against Nazism, the fear of imprisonment in a concentration camp was enough to suffocate most active resistance to Hitler’s rule. The night of the 30th of June 1934, otherwise known as the “night of the long knives”, is an example of how Hitler dealt with opposition in Germany: leaders of the army, religious leaders, politically affluent people and others were shot, official numbers added up to 77, but most probably the numbers were as high as 400.This example of brutality proved to the general population that even the slightest show of criticism or resistance would inevitably lead to persecution; by 1939 there were 140,000 political prisoners in concentration camps.

5 Hitler later justified these killings publicly and ruthlessly; this was the threat all germans lived under and lived by. Hitler also ensured the supremacy of his will above that of the present laws. Hitler forced all judges, magistrates and civil servants who were not in favor of nazism to quit, supreme judges had to make an oath of loyalty to Hitler.Hitler made it legal for him to impose his will upon the population and above the existing laws; he was the Fuhrer in many senses.

Hitler also ensured that a possible source of opposition and communism- syndicates and trade unions- was destroyed. Instead the “Labour Front” was created, this organization replaced the banned trade unions, it was nazi led and therefore banned strikes and further demonstrations on the behalf of workers. It also allowed for uncontested long hours of under waged labour.But overall, the working class was better off economically in nazi Germany than it had been during the critical moments of economic difficulty in the Weimar Republic.

Hitler made it so that there was a fear from above, a stimulus from above to comply with Nazism whilst there was an almost natural reaction from the people to become indifferent or merely observant as the Nazis enabled themselves to control the whole of Germany and its people. Hitler and the nazis created the notion that the German people should be united, that Germany should be restructured under the idea of a “people’s community”.There was a mythological past added to this notion, a legendary past where the German people prospered. The most disturbing element of this mythology is the notion that the “Aryan” people, the “Germanic race” was the “master race” and that it was a race above all the rest of humanity and sub-humanity.

Hitler used these ideas consistently in an attempt to create a common goal for all classes, all politically convicted people, all workers, all “true” germans. Hitler justified the persecution of ethnic groups with these ideas of races. He also launched many of his schemes with the objective of creating a powerful Germanic nation.This mythology and ideas created justifications for many of Hitler’s policies and projects.

It also created the senses of belonging for many germans, an objective to work for. It also excluded those who were slightly different and established the parameters for many persecutions. The atmosphere in Germany at that time was similair to that of a nation on the brink of war, or in constant peril. Hitler summoned through an absurd idea the power of a nation united by the sense of war.

Propaganda was the weapon of choice for capturing the German public under the Nazis. Goebbels was the head of propaganda.He used many techniques to ensure Hitler’s rise, popularity and stability, as well as the nazi ideals. He justified and developed racial hatred.

Propaganda became integrated into the everyday life of Germany; it became inseparable from many aspects of life. Propaganda was embedded into education for new subjects were set up which made direct references to nazi ideals and their development. Crucifixes were removed from classrooms and in their place Hitler’s portrait was hung. Subjects were taught differently in order to include some form of Nazism into the classroom.

The Nazi Youth and German Maidens movement were set up. These organizations forced the youth of Germany to believe and apply nazi ideals, the two organizations integrated nazism into life for young germans, they taught the youth their roles in society and prepared the future generation of germans to be a society at permanent war. Hitler and the nazis felt that the future of Germany was in her youth, the meticulous inculcation of nazi ideals ensured the elimination of resistance in the future of Germany. Propaganda in nazi Germany was also cleverly spread because of radios.

The Nazis produced cheap radios that the population could easily purchase. Most cheap radios were bought in the context of the Berlin Olympics, they were short wave and therefore could not capture emissions from foreign countries: most germans had to listen to radio emissions full of nazi ideas and propaganda. The nazi party to ensure the correct level of accordance to its ideals strictly controlled other forms of mass communication such as newspapers. Books were also controlled by the state and in several cases burnt.

The Nazis tried to create a state were resistance was inconceivable.Workers, political groups, intellectuals, youth, soldiers, clergy, all levels of society seemed to be under strict vigilance or overwhelmed with compliance or indifference. Yet resistance in nazi Germany did exist. The SA presented in 1934 a major threat to Hitler, led by Rohm, other SA officials disliked Hitler and saw their positions of power threatened by the SS.

Hitler soon dealt with this form of resistance. The 30th of June the resisting SA officials alongside Rohm were shot, the SA was soon absorbed into the SS. Germany’s army presented resistance throughout Hitler’s rule, although it was never sufficient to overthrow Hitler.The clergy in Germany, both Catholic and Protestant presented resistance.

The clergy shunned Hitler’s execution of the mentally handicapped as well as nazi control over the church. Hitler signed an appeasement with the pope and he imprisoned leading clergymen. Nevertheless the clergy remained resistant to Hitler’s rule, the Confessional Church was set up in the light of battle against the Nazis. Even though Hitler was not able to destroy resistance presented by the church, it was never enough to create a significant change in Germany.

Germany’s youth was also keen on rebelling against the strict nazi control over every day life. In many parts of Germany pirate groups sprouted as did swing groups. The first were groups of young people who did not agree with nazi ideals and would frequently start fights against nazi youth movements. The second were simply groups of youngsters who enjoyed listening to American music and dressing in a fashionable way which was inappropriate in the eyes of nazi leaders.

Many integrants of the pirate groups were hung publicly or sent to concentration camps.By the late 1930s the Hitler youth became a compulsory movement for all young germans. There was little resistance to Hitler’s rule because Hitler created successfully a state in which people had little motivation to present resistance or were too scared to do so. Even though brave and noble spirits did dare to oppose Nazism, there was not enough resistance to provoke any significant consequences.

Hitler was able to institutionalize fear, hate and war as a way of living whilst suffocating any spark of resistance present in nazi Germany.

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