Assess the extent and nature of resistance to Nazism within Germany between 1933 and 1945

Essay by laydee_carmelade May 2004

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Hitler's ascension to the position of Chancellor on January 30th 1933 marked the beginning of a new and turbulent period for Germany and hardship for German citizens. Many resistance groups were founded and while some emerged from anti-Nazi groups from before Hitler's rule, some were new in realising the threat and working against it. Political parties, the Church and the army were all organisations that had existed before Nazi rule and turned their efforts to overthrowing the government and raising awareness in Germany and abroad.

The churches in Germany either supported the NSDAP or did not openly oppose it but there were some individuals affiliated with the main religions that spoke out against the new regime. The Church had no problem with the anti-Semitism of the National Socialists but opposed Hitler's Gleichschaltung, the need for conformity to Party rule. Some Church leaders saw Nazism as a means to an end, with the consequence of unification of the German Churches as a desirable end that Hitler could provide.

One official Church movement that was set up to combat the effects of Nazi rule was the 'Pastors Emergency League' with over a third of German Pastors being involved with this support group for victims of the Nazi regime. In 1936 a memorandum addressed to Hitler, from the Confessional Church and criticising the anti-Semitic policies of the government was published in some newspapers including foreign publications. Friedrich Weissler, the head of the Provisional Central Office for the Confessional Church was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Catholic rallies were frequent but this was the only organised resistance and never took violent form, they were usually just prayer meetings.

Martin Niemoller was an Evangelical pastor who had served on submarines during the First World War and was considered something of a war...