By Hans Mommsen

German resistance to Hitler is a significant part of the background of Nazism. during this textual content, modern historian Hans Mommsen unearths the range of the political goals held via those "other Germans". He analyses the ideologies of the assassination plot of twentieth July 1944, in addition to these of the Kreisau Circle and the conservative, socialist, church and armed forces oppositions. those resistance teams all endeavoured to discover a possible replacement to Hitler and to accomplish an ethical renewal of politics and society - even though lots of them rejected democracy and had a occasionally ambivalent angle in the direction of the persecution of the Jews.

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It is precisely this conflict of loyalties which can give younger generations an insight into the actual conditions under which resisters operated in Nazi Germany. Even someone who fundamentally rejected Nazism, regardless of his or her individual willingness to take risks, required a political perspective from which to take the step into resistance. 4 But opposition did not yet mean the same thing as resistance. In the early years of the regime, at least, middle-class and conservative circles still cherished the illusion that by taming the radical forces within the Nazi Party – among which they significantly did not include Hitler himself – 26 ALTERNATIVES TO HITLER some political moderation could be achieved.

In the given circumstances this would involve killing the dictator. Regardless of the problem of the oath of allegiance – which in retrospect has been overstated – the unifying force of the Hitler myth could not be extinguished in any other way. Goerdeler hoped that, by exposing the crimes and irresponsibility of the Führer, they could bring the masses over to their side. But he overlooked the fact that the irrational public need for national identity took the form of a loyalty to Hitler, which did not break down until the final months of the war, accompanied by widespread criticism of the Party, the SS, their representatives and all their works.

CHAPTER 3 The social vision and constitutional plans of the German resistance I. The sociology of the resistance Helmuth James von Moltke1 was convinced that the task of the resistance to National Socialism was not limited to the physical removal of tyranny, but that it should proceed to a radical reshaping of the foundations of social and political life. ‘We can only expect to get our people to ditch this regime of fear and terror,’ he wrote to Lionel Curtis, 2 ‘if we are able to show them a picture of something beyond the terrible despair of the immediate future’; in other words, something worth working for, worth starting again for.

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Alternatives to Hitler by Hans Mommsen
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