Civil opposition to Hitler

How far was civil opposition to the
Nazis a threat?
Learning objective – to be able to assess the
impact and the extent of the opposition to
Hitler from civilians.
I can describe some of
the ways how civilians
opposed Hitler.
Grade D
I can explain why
and how civilians
opposed Hitler.
Grade B
I can explain and
evaluate the extent and
impact of the opposition
to Hitler from civilians.
Grade A
Starter – suggest who in civilian life could show
their opposition to Hitler and his policies?
Which type of civilians opposed
The Churches.
What did former political opponents
want to happen?
The main political opponents of the Nazi
Party comprised of the Socialist Party, the
Communist Party and the trade unions.
Before they were all banned in 1933, they
were huge organisations.
They wanted the restoration of democracy,
free speech and workers’ democratic rights.
The Communist Party wanted a workers’
How far were former political
opponents pose effective opposition?
After 1933, thousands of former political opponents
were arrested and thrown into concentration camps.
Here they were tortured and beaten up then
released. This was done as a scare tactic to
intimidate opponents to join the Nazi Party or
keeping quiet.
However, working class opposition continued with
400 strikes between 1933 and 1935. But Gestapo
raids and mass arrests increased and many political
opponents were forced underground holding secret
meetings and resorting to writing anti-Nazi graffiti
and occasionally handing leaflets. Although a
paramilitary wing of the Social Democratic Party
called the Reichsbanner were involved in blowing up
railway lines and involved in spying.
How far did youth opposition to Hitler
grow with the swing movement?
Youth opposition towards the Nazi Party
began to intensify when the Hitler Youth
became compulsory to join in 1936.
During the war, ‘swing’ groups emerged in
the major German towns and cities which
encouraged the rejection of Nazi values
through enjoying jazz music at secret
nightclubs and drinking alcohol. They even
made anti-Nazi jokes by greeting each
other with the salute ‘Swing Heil!’ mocking
the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute.
These were rebellious rather than violent
groups with specific aims, although they
were pursued by the Gestapo who saw
them as a irritant.
How far did youth opposition to Hitler
intensify with the Edelweiss Pirates?
The Edelweiss Pirates were a more violent
youth group which emerged from dissatisfied
youths wanting a more confrontational
approach to opposing the Nazis. They were not
a coherent organisation but more a loosely
connected group from a variety of towns and
cities in western Germany.
Their main form of opposition was daubing
anti-Nazi slogans, sheltering deserters and
beating up Nazi officials.
In 1944, some members of the Edelweiss
Pirates in Cologne were involved in the killing
of the Gestapo chief. 13 were hanged. After
this point, the Edelweiss Pirates provided little
Who was Sophie Scholl?
Sophie Scholl alongside her brother Hans
and Christoph Probst led a group called the
White Rose Group. They were a small
group of students at Munich University.
They opposed the Nazis and wanted to
encourage people to sabotage the war
effort and overthrow Hitler.
They spread anti-Nazi messages through
leaflets, posters and graffiti in 1942. They
were caught in 1943 and executed.
Who opposed the Nazis in the Church?
The Pope
How did Martin Niemöller oppose the
Martin Niemöller was a First World War hero and
became the most prominent critic of the Nazis
from the Church.
He was a Protestant Minister who opposed the
Nazis and refused to swear an oath to Hitler and
join the ‘Reich Church’ – set up to bring the
Protestants under one umbrella calling
themselves ‘German Christians’ and swearing
loyalty to Hitler.
6,000 ministers refused to swear an oath of
loyalty to Hitler and Martin Niemöller led the
formation of the alternative non-Nazi,
Confessional Church. He was arrested and
imprisoned in a concentration camp in 1937.
How did Dietrich Bonhöffer oppose the
Dietrich Bonhöffer trained young men
to be ministers and pointed out that
Nazism was anti-Christian. He preached
that one could not separate politics and
religion and one must stand up to
corruption and dishonesty.
His college was closed down in 1940
and he remained an outspoken critic of
the Nazis where he was arrested in
1943 and executed in 1945.
How did Paul Schneider oppose the
Paul Schneider was a pastor who
opposed the Nazis and protested
against the Nazis but arguing the
Church must not compromise with
He was arrested in 1937 and
imprisoned in Buchenwald but
smuggled letters and showed defiance
but refusing to do the Hitler salute.
How did Cardinal Galen oppose the
Cardinal Galen revealed that the Nazis
were secretly conducting a euthanasia
campaign in a series of sermons
delivered to churches in 1941.
This gained huge publicity but the Nazis
feared that killing such a high priest
would make him into a martyr.
Although the executed three Catholic
priests who were caught distributing
Galen’s sermons to German soldiers.
How did the Pope oppose the Nazis?
The Pope signed a Concordat with
Hitler in 1933, agreeing that Hitler
would leave the Catholic Church alone
in return for the Pope staying out of
However, in 1937 the Pope's message
'With Burning Concern' attacked Hitler
as 'a mad prophet with repulsive
arrogance' and was read in every
Catholic church. The Pope becoming
more horrified with the growing Nazi
threat. But this remained the limit of
opposition from the Catholic Church.
Main task
Former political
The Churches
Army officers
Methods used to
oppose the Nazis
Danger rating
Reasons why you
have given that
Plenary – My Brain
Subheading – My Brain
Draw an outline of your brain.
Fill your drawn brain with all the things you have learnt in this lesson.
This can be in the form of key words, drawings, bullet points, lists –
anything you like so long as it summarises your learning and that others
can understand it.
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