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1 Resistance against National Socialism

During the Weimar Republic people, of different social origins and political views began confronting National Socialism and warning against the threat of dictatorship. To begin with, the fight against Hitler was led above all by the workers’ movement, by liberal and left-wing intellectuals, and by Christians.

After Hitler’s appointment as Reich chancellor, all opponents of the NSDAP were persecuted and excluded from the National Socialist “people’s community.” Torture, prison, and concentration camps were used to intimidate them. Jews were threatened and systematically deprived of their rights, while political opponents were vilified.

Most Germans welcomed the new authorities and their politics. Only a minority mounted resistance in reaction to the violation of human rights and the destruction of democracy. At no point did the National Socialists succeed in entirely breaking their opponents’ resistance. These people followed their consciences and risked their lives to use what opportunities they had for human sympathy and political activity under the conditions of a dictatorship.

On the historical site of the attempted coup of July 20, 1944, the German Resistance Memorial Center commemorates individuals and groups who resisted the unjust National Socialist state. It shows the breadth and diversity of the opponents of the regime in their development over time, and sheds light on different traditions, motives, goals, and situations that enabled and shaped the resistance against National Socialism between 1933 and 1945.

Resistance is thus illustrated as a process of confrontation with National Socialism and its crimes. However, the history of resistance also shows that the Germans in the National Socialist era were caught between the poles of enthusiasm, assimilation, and obedience, and dissent, opposition, and resistance.