Was there passive resistance in Nazi Germany?

Essay by Lotsis August 2005

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This essay is to discuss the existence of passive resistance to the Nazi regime in Germany during the years 1933-1945. I will look at the different types of resistance and compare their effectiveness. The word resistance in itself is defined as 'some open form of opposition aimed at bringing down the Nazi state'.

When the Nazis came to power, Germany was in a horrible state. Even before Nazi rule, their popularity was directly proportional to unemployment rates and common unhappiness. In the first years the unemployed were made to work at wages lower than their unemployment benefit doing work that was hard and tiring, sometimes having to move to another town. The Nazi support consisted mainly of lower middle class people, who were now hit by awful conditions.

Passive resistance was in the beginning mainly individuals failing to go along with the new rules the Nazis had established. This 'Everyday opposition' didn't harm the Nazi regime, wasn't organised and was limited to things like refusal to give the Hitler salute, reading or listening to banned music, books or radio and continuing to buy goods in Jewish shops.

You could be punished for these acts, and this was as far as the opposition went before the war. It could be said that these were people who were plainly being stubborn and thought the Nazis weren't as glorious as they seemed, but it was nothing 'personal' against the Nazis and they wouldn't have been able to mount opposition and organise well enough to form active resistance. This can be counted as passive resistance, so we can see that that did exist before the war, but it was basically limited to a level of dissent - expressing opposition rather than trying to destroy the target.

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