Political Opposition to Hitler

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,827
SoCal
For example this guy tried to kill Hitler in November 1939. Georg Elser was a marxist but not a member of communist party. Stalin collaborated with Hitler at that time.

Georg Elser - Wikipedia

And she was a member of anti-nazi resistance group formed by students called white rose. They tried to inspire demonstrations of German people and cause the fall of Nazi regime. Killed in 1943.

Sophie Scholl - Wikipedia

The plot against Hitler from July 1944 was mentioned. Yet this group of army officers and civilians was active before. Here are their attemps to get rid of Hitler before July 1944:

In late 1942, von Tresckow and Olbricht formulated a plan to assassinate Hitler and stage a coup. On 13 March 1943, returning from his easternmost headquarters FHQ Wehrwolf near Vinnitsa to Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, Hitler was scheduled to make a stop-over at the headquarters of Army Group Centre at Smolensk. For such an occasion, von Tresckow had prepared three options:[105]

  1. Major Georg von Boeselager, in command of a cavalry honor guard, could intercept Hitler in a forest and overwhelm the SS bodyguard and the Führer in a fair fight; this course was rejected because of the prospect of a large number of German soldiers fighting each other, and a possible failure regarding the unexpected strength of the escort.
  2. A joint assassination could be carried out during dinner; this idea was abandoned as supporting officers abhorred the idea of shooting the unarmed tyrant.
  3. A bomb could be smuggled on Hitler's plane.
Von Tresckow asked Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Brandt, on Hitler's staff and usually on the same plane that carried Hitler, to take a parcel with him, supposedly the prize of a bet won by Tresckow's friend General Stieff. It concealed a bomb, disguised in a box for two bottles of Cointreau. Von Tresckow's aide, Lieutenant Fabian von Schlabrendorff, set the fuse and handed over the parcel to Brandt who boarded the same plane as Hitler.[106]

Hitler's Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor was expected to explode about 30 minutes later near Minsk, close enough to the front to be attributed to Soviet fighters. Olbricht was to use the resulting crisis to mobilise his Reserve Army network to seize power in Berlin, Vienna, Munich and in the German Wehrkreis centres. It was an ambitious but credible plan, and might have worked if Hitler had indeed been killed, although persuading Army units to fight and overcome what could certainly have been fierce resistance from the SS could have been a major obstacle.

However, as with Elser's bomb in 1939 and all other attempts, luck favoured Hitler again, which was attributed to "Vorsehung" (providence). The British-made chemical pencil detonator on the bomb had been tested many times and was considered reliable. It went off, but the bomb did not. The percussion cap apparently became too cold as the parcel was carried in the unheated cargo hold.

Displaying great sangfroid, Schlabrendorff took the next plane to retrieve the package from Colonel Brandt before the content was discovered. The blocks of plastic explosives were later used by Gersdorff and Stauffenberg.

A second attempt was made a few days later on 21 March 1943, when Hitler visited an exhibition of captured Soviet weaponry in Berlin's Zeughaus. One of Tresckow's friends, Colonel Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff, was scheduled to explain some exhibits, and volunteered to carry out a suicide bombing using the same bomb that had failed to go off on the plane, concealed on his person. However, the only new chemical fuse he could obtain was a ten-minute one. Hitler again left prematurely after hurrying through the exhibition much quicker than the scheduled 30 minutes. Gersdorff had to dash to a bathroom to defuse the bomb to save his life, and more importantly, prevent any suspicion.[107] This second failure temporarily demoralised the plotters at Army Group Centre. Gersdorff reported about the attempt after the war; the footage is often seen on German TV documentaries ("Die Nacht des Widerstands" etc.), including a photo showing Gersdorff and Hitler.

Axel von dem Bussche, member of the elite Infantry Regiment 9, volunteered to kill Hitler with hand grenades in November 1943 during a presentation of new winter uniforms, but the train containing them was destroyed by Allied bombs in Berlin, and the event had to be postponed. A second presentation scheduled for December at the Wolfsschanze was canceled on short notice as Hitler decided to travel to Berchtesgaden.

In January 1944, Bussche volunteered for another assassination attempt, but then he lost a leg in Russia. On February 11, another young officer, Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist tried to assassinate Hitler in the same way von dem Bussche had planned. However Hitler again canceled the event which would have allowed Kleist to approach him.

On 11 March 1944, Eberhard von Breitenbuch volunteered for an assassination attempt at the Berghof using a 7.65 mm Browning pistol concealed in his trouser pocket. He was not able to carry out the plan because guards would not allow him into the conference room with the Führer.

The next occasion was a weapons exhibition on July 7 at Schloss Klessheim near Salzburg, but Helmuth Stieff did not trigger the bomb.

German resistance to Nazism - Wikipedia
The German opposition should have tried to assassinate Hitler in the eight months between September 1939 and May 1940. That was the golden window to do this. By early 1943, most of the Jews under Nazi rule were already dead. :(
 
Sep 2019
184
Slovenia
During this time Elser tried. More organized German resistance had talks via Vatican with the British about coup against Hitler. It would be interesting to know what exactly stopped them from acting.

In the winter of 1939-1940, the Bavarian lawyer and reserve 'Abwehr' officer Josef Müller, acting as an emissary for the early German military opposition against Hitler then centered on General Franz Halder, the chief of staff of the German army, contacted Monsignore Ludwig Kaas, the exiled leader of the German Catholic Zentrum party, in Rome, hoping to use the Pope as an intermediary to contact the British.[12] Kaas put Müller in contact with Father Robert Leiber, who personally asked the Pope to relay the information about the German resistance to the British.[13] Müller had known the Pope since his time as nuncio in Munich, and they had stayed in contact.[14] The Pope's Private Secretary, Robert Leiber, acted as the intermediary between Pius and the Resistance. He met with Müller, who visited Rome in 1939 and 1940.[15]

The Vatican considered Müller to be a representative of Colonel-General Ludwig Beck and agreed to offer the machinery for mediation.[16][17] Oster, Wilhelm Canaris, and Hans von Dohnányi, backe Beck, told Müller to ask Pius to ascertain whether the British would enter negotiations with the German opposition which wanted to overthrow Hitler. The British agreed to negotiate if the Vatican could vouch for the opposition's representative. Pius, communicating with Britain's Francis d'Arcy Osborne, channelled communications back and forth in secrecy.[16] The Vatican agreed to send a letter outlining the bases for peace with England, and the participation of the Pope was used to try to persuade senior German Generals Halder and Brauchitsch to act against Hitler.[10]

Negotiations were tense, with a Western offensive expected, and on the basis that substantive negotiations required the replacement of the Hitler regime. Hoffmann wrote that when the Venlo Incident stalled the talks, the British agreed to resume discussions primarily because of the "efforts of the Pope and the respect in which he was held. Chamberlain and Halifax set great store by the Pope's readiness to mediate".[16] Pius, without offering an endorsement, advised Osbourne on 11 January 1940 that the German opposition had said that a German offensive was planned for February, but it could be averted if the German generals could be assured of peace with Britain, on nonpunitive terms. If that could be assured, they were willing to move to replace Hitler. The Pope admitted to "discomfort" at his role as mediator but advised that the Germans involved were not Nazis.

The British government had doubts as to the capacity of the conspirators. On 7 February, the Pope updated Osbourne that the opposition wanted to replace the Nazi regime with a democratic federation but hoped to retain Austria and the Sudetenland. The British government was noncommittal and said that while the federal model was of interest, the promises and sources of the opposition were too vague. Nevertheless, the resistance were encouraged by the talks, and Müller told Leiber that a coup would occur in February. Pius appeared to continue to hope for a coup in Germany into March 1940.[18]



Pius XII and the German Resistance - Wikipedia
 
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Feb 2016
586
ROK
Some members of the White Rose were disillusioned with Nazism when they witnessed atrocities on the Eastern Front during their time as student soldiers. Shortly before the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans were becoming tired of the war. In 1943, hundreds of German women protested against the capture of their Jewish husbands. The more well-known opposition thanks to a movie is Operation Valkyrie.

Prior to the Third Reich, the Nazis never gained majority support. They just gained the greatest share of the popular vote. President Paul von Hindenburg considered Nazism to be vulgar. He appointed Hitler as chancellor because of pressure to prevent the Communists from increasing power. After Hindenburg's passing, Hitler became the leader. After the passing of the Enabling Act, Hindenburg had been the only figure (by the Weimar Republic's constitution) who could stop Hitler.
 
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Jan 2013
1,029
Toronto, Canada
What part of the Versailles treaty could the German people not take any more?
Germans had two major objections:
1) Loss of territory - complaints from German minorities in other countries were a constant reminder of lands that had been German-ruled before the war.
2) More generally, lots of Germans simply refused to accept that they had lost World War I. They wanted to destroy the treaty's symbolism as much as its reality.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,471
Dispargum
Prior to the Third Reich, the Nazis never gained majority support. They just gained the greatest share of the popular vote.
I don't see how anyone could dispute the above, but I suspect that Hitler's popularity increased after he was in power. By 1939, probably earlier, he had overwhelming support among the German people. That support must have faded at some point, but I have no basis to even guess when, why, or how much that support faded.
 
Sep 2019
184
Slovenia
Concerning the planned coup against Hitler in 1939/1940 it seems to me the problem was that generals Brauchitsch and Halder were not really ready to back up the opposition.

By early November 1939, Brauchitsch and Chief of the General Staff Franz Halder started to consider overthrowing Hitler, who had fixed "X-day", the invasion of France, as 12 November 1939. Both officers believed that the invasion was doomed to fail. On 5 November 1939, the Army General Staff prepared a special memorandum purporting to recommend against launching an attack on the Western powers that year. Brauchitsch reluctantly agreed to read the document to Hitler and did so in a meeting on 5 November. Brauchitsch attempted to talk Hitler into putting off X-day by saying that morale in the German Army was worse than in 1918, a statement that enraged Hitler. He harshly berated Brauchitsch for incompetence. Brauchitsch went on to complain: "The aggressive spirit of the German infantry is sadly below the standard of the First World War ... [there have been] certain symptoms of insubordination similar to those of 1917–18."

Hitler flew into a rage, accusing the General Staff and Brauchitsch personally of disloyalty, cowardice, sabotage, and defeatism. He returned to the army headquarters at Zossen, where he "arrived in such poor shape that at first he could only give a somewhat incoherent account of the proceedings." After that meeting, both Brauchitsch and Halder told Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, a key leader of the anti-Nazi movement, that overthrowing Hitler was simply something that they could not do and that he should find other officers to take part in the plot. Hitler called a meeting of the General Staff, where he declared that he would smash the West within a year. He also vowed to "destroy the spirit of Zossen", a threat that panicked Halder to such an extent that he forced the conspirators to abort their second planned coup attempt. On 7 November, following heavy snowstorms, Hitler put off X-Day until further notice, which removed Brauchitsch and Halder's primary motivation for the plot.

Walther von Brauchitsch - Wikipedia
 
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Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
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I don't see how anyone could dispute the above, but I suspect that Hitler's popularity increased after he was in power. By 1939, probably earlier, he had overwhelming support among the German people. That support must have faded at some point, but I have no basis to even guess when, why, or how much that support faded.
The hard thing is that Hitler's "popularity" was based on a couple of factors. One was that with things like the Enabling Act passed pretty quickly and then the various measures to further fortify his position as Fuhrer and stamp out all other political parties, including those that agreed with him but weren't Nazis, it would be hard to easily tell who was truly supportive and who was truly opposed. As the actions taken under the Enabling Act assured that the Nazis governed on their own and they established their concentration camps to hold political enemies for at the very least "re-education" or at least bullying them into shutting up. The other was to play to their successes... or at least the successes they perceived. This would include both their internal programs and their foreign policy. Anything the Nazis deemed as a victory, they milked it for all it was worth and made it public knowledge.

That way no one could argue with someone who's succeeding so much. It was something where many probably ignored some of the darker things that Hitler did because certain measures seemed to be working. As many of the manufacturers got going again, the autobahn was built, the new Reichsmark was "doing" well, and when Germany potentially got into trouble with her neighbors, be it over the Rhineland, Austria, or the Sudetenland, Germany got away with a win and without a war. Those that opposed Hitler couldn't really do too much. And even after the war began in 1939, so long as Germany appeared to be winning, Hitler's popularity rose with it. In this the defeat of France in 1940 was a high point and German officers that might have tentatively thought about a coup attempt backed away from it.

It's only by late 1942 to mid 1943 that you begin to see things change, at least with regard to the military resistance. By this point many of the atrocities in the East were becoming known while at the same time it was becoming increasingly likely to military eyes that the war was lost. For in that time period you see Operation Uranus encircle the 6th Army in Stalingrad (which would surrender by February 1943), Rommel is defeated at El Alamein, the Western Allies land in French North Africa, the Afrika Korps and Axis forces are crushed in Tunisia after lengthy fighting, The U-boat campaign was defeated in May 1943 and would allow Britain near unmolested supply going into the future years. The Allied bombing campaign over Germany was increasing. And then came the defeat at Kursk which would set up further Soviet offensives on the Eastern Front. In this many of the generals had to know that the war wasn't going well and that the damage might be irreversible...

And those who knew of the atrocities and also knew of impending defeat would draw the conclusion that if they didn't find a way to at least get out of the war with the Western Allies... if not negotiate an end to the war as a whole, the consequences of this defeat would be harsher than the defeat in WWI. Thus it was the results of the war that began to change the minds of German military officers with regard to their positions on Hitler...
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
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The hard thing is that Hitler's "popularity" was based on a couple of factors. One was that with things like the Enabling Act passed pretty quickly and then the various measures to further fortify his position as Fuhrer and stamp out all other political parties, including those that agreed with him but weren't Nazis, it would be hard to easily tell who was truly supportive and who was truly opposed. As the actions taken under the Enabling Act assured that the Nazis governed on their own and they established their concentration camps to hold political enemies for at the very least "re-education" or at least bullying them into shutting up. The other was to play to their successes... or at least the successes they perceived. This would include both their internal programs and their foreign policy. Anything the Nazis deemed as a victory, they milked it for all it was worth and made it public knowledge.

That way no one could argue with someone who's succeeding so much. It was something where many probably ignored some of the darker things that Hitler did because certain measures seemed to be working. As many of the manufacturers got going again, the autobahn was built, the new Reichsmark was "doing" well, and when Germany potentially got into trouble with her neighbors, be it over the Rhineland, Austria, or the Sudetenland, Germany got away with a win and without a war. Those that opposed Hitler couldn't really do too much. And even after the war began in 1939, so long as Germany appeared to be winning, Hitler's popularity rose with it. In this the defeat of France in 1940 was a high point and German officers that might have tentatively thought about a coup attempt backed away from it.

It's only by late 1942 to mid 1943 that you begin to see things change, at least with regard to the military resistance. By this point many of the atrocities in the East were becoming known while at the same time it was becoming increasingly likely to military eyes that the war was lost. For in that time period you see Operation Uranus encircle the 6th Army in Stalingrad (which would surrender by February 1943), Rommel is defeated at El Alamein, the Western Allies land in French North Africa, the Afrika Korps and Axis forces are crushed in Tunisia after lengthy fighting, The U-boat campaign was defeated in May 1943 and would allow Britain near unmolested supply going into the future years. The Allied bombing campaign over Germany was increasing. And then came the defeat at Kursk which would set up further Soviet offensives on the Eastern Front. In this many of the generals had to know that the war wasn't going well and that the damage might be irreversible...

And those who knew of the atrocities and also knew of impending defeat would draw the conclusion that if they didn't find a way to at least get out of the war with the Western Allies... if not negotiate an end to the war as a whole, the consequences of this defeat would be harsher than the defeat in WWI. Thus it was the results of the war that began to change the minds of German military officers with regard to their positions on Hitler...
All true, and yet there's no metric for these changing public (not government or military insider) perceptions of how good a leader Hitler was, which is what I was asking for. Anyway, thank you Historumites for confirming a suspicion of mine that there are no public opinion metrics. Nor is there much anecdotal evidence of how the German man on the street felt about Hitler in the second half of the war.
 

Sam-Nary

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Jun 2012
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All true, and yet there's no metric for these changing public (not government or military insider) perceptions of how good a leader Hitler was, which is what I was asking for. Anyway, thank you Historumites for confirming a suspicion of mine that there are no public opinion metrics. Nor is there much anecdotal evidence of how the German man on the street felt about Hitler in the second half of the war.
And there probably never will be real numbers that could be known for sure, at least not after the period running from the passing of the Enabling Act to the death of Hindenburg. Prior to that point, elections were still open to a degree and the Nazis had to govern in a coalition government with other Right wing parties. They were the largest party, but didn't have 51% of the vote and thus needed to work in coalition. However after events like the Reichstag Fire leading to the Enabling Act and then the death of Hindenburg, you begin to see the Nazis outlaw and ban various parties that had been among their opponents prior to 1933 with German Communists being outlawed and several going into hiding or exile in the Soviet Union and the Social Democrats also going into hiding or exile, though in their case primarily America or the UK. Most of the rest were simply dismissed from the Reichstag and allowed the Nazis to govern on their own.

There were some forms of resistance from some business owners and some newspapers, but as things like the Concentration Camps were established and the Nazis essentially removed all civil rights in accordance with the Enabling Act, these groups also soon fell quiet as they felt safer in that regard. And it's this silence that will make counting who was in opposition to them after that period hard to count or measure, because the longer the Nazis held power, the more they put in place the mechanisms to hold power and limit opposition. Which made many of those small groups hard to count because those that engaged in any form of resistance and survived are few and far between, as the Nazis tended to kill all that had any connection to such resistance... I believe they killed every member of the White Rose for example... and the White Rose's opposition was largely limited to distributing pamphlets, I believe.

It's in this that I think a good many Germans simply kept quiet and didn't say much that could be traced or made public while Hitler was in power, in order to avoid execution. It won't prove how many fully supported Hitler or opposed Hitler... but it's something that really only emerged either late in the war when it was too late for the Nazis to kill them or after the war to try and distance themselves from the Nazi Party's actions. And it would to really put concrete numbers to this, as many of the end of the war denials of support also tried to deny the crimes the Nazis committed... that people somehow didn't know about the lingering scent of death that was coming from the camps built literally a block away. A fair number may have truly opposed the Nazi regime, but some accounts may end up being questioned over certain details and with the images the Nazis liked to flash in their propaganda movies of the masses of people fawning over Hitler in the 30s...

And others may be questioned on the suspicion of being fraudulent. For after the war, Albert Spear wrote extensively on how he was horrified by the things the Nazis did when he learned about them in the Nuremberg Trials and essentially "apologized" for the actions of the regime. He would even include a story of supposedly wanting to drop a poison gas capsule into the ventilation system for the Berlin Bunker and was supposedly foiled for want of a ladder. One would think that Hitler's architect who had been so detail oriented in the building of the Chancellery and then as involved with the war industries as Armaments Minister would have known where to find a ladder if he were truly serious about killing Hitler that way.