Why did the majority of Germans conform to Nazi rule.

Essay by corrigallCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2003

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The majority of German citizens conformed to Nazi rule because of the dual positive and negative pressures exerted by the regime. The Nazis designed and aggressively propagated a programme likely to be attractive to most of the community and backed this up with an apparatus of terror to silence those not convinced. The successes of the party within the country assured widespread support. Hitler's foreign policy, that overturned the Treaty of Versailles and secured Germany a great deal of territory even before the war, garnered him unparalleled popularity. The few opposition groups, and those groups targeted by Nazi ideology, were sent to concentration camps and a vigorous secret police assured that no opposition, especially not vocal, remained in Germany for long. Even when the atrocities of the Nazis became somewhat known Germans continued to conform to Nazi rule, primarily as a result of the anti-Semitism and bigotry prevalent in German society, effectively fostered by the Nazis.

Finally, the Hitler myth is vital in understanding why the majority of Germans conformed to the rule of the regime.

The contrast between Nazi rule and that of the Weimar Government that preceded it is vital in understanding why the majority of Germans conformed to Nazi rule. Gellately describes how "many Germans ... believed that the liberal Weimar Republic was a degenerate society, and that their country was on the road to ruin". Newspapers were filled with stories regarding crime, drugs, murder and the activities of organized gangs. Crime had risen steadily between 1927 and 1932, the rate of some crimes in large cities almost doubling. The death penalty, a popular punishment, was bestowed 1141 times from 1919 to 1932, of which only 184 were executed, a figure which infuriated many German citizens. "Hitler and his party", on the other hand, promised...