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Those who spoke out against Hitler and his policies faced intimidation and threats from the Gestapo [Gestapo: (Secret State Police.) A ruthless organisation that aimed to eliminate political opponents in Nazi Germany, and was responsible for the rounding up of Jews during the Nazi period and attempting to exterminate them. ], or imprisonment and in some cases execution. However, there were some brave individuals and groups who openly opposed Hitler and his policies - a few survived, but many were killed.

Who opposed Hilter?

It was difficult - and dangerous - to oppose Hitler. However, some brave people did try:

  1. The Catholic Archbishop of Munster, von Galen, led a successful campaign to end euthanasia of mentally-disabled people.
  2. Some Catholic priests opposed Hitler. 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.
  3. The White Rose group was formed by students at Munich University. They published anti-Nazi leaflets, but were discovered and executed in 1943.
  4. A paramilitary wing of the Social Democratic Party, called the Reichsbanner, sabotaged railway lines and acted as spies.
  5. During the war, 'swing' groups were formed. These were young people who rejected Nazi values, drank alcohol and danced to jazz. More violent groups were called the Edelweiss Pirates. They daubed anti-Nazi slogans, sheltered deserters and beat up Nazi officials. In 1944, the Cologne Pirates (the Edelweiss Pirates based in Cologne) killed the Gestapo chief, so the Nazis publicly hanged 12 of them.
  6. Many Protestant pastors, led by Martin Niemöller, formed the Confessional Church in opposition to Hitler's Reich Church. Niemöller was held in a concentration camp during the period 1937-1945. Another Protestant pastor, Dietrich Bonhöffer, took part in the 1944 bomb plot and was executed.
  7. In 1944, a group of army officers and intellectuals called the Kreisau Circle tried to bomb Hitler. The bomb was planted by Colonel Stauffenberg. It exploded, but Hitler survived. In retaliation, 5,000 people were executed.
Hitler is surveying bomb damage to a building

Hitler surveys the damage from the bomb planted by the Kreisau Circle


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