This document was transcribed onto the King David High School, Manchester Website at kdhs.org.uk/history/articles/nazi_opposition.htm

This site went down in October 2004, so I have copied it here.

 

Source

PS: Political Science & Politics, Sept 1999

 

 

Title

The Size and Composition of the Anti-Nazi Opposition in Germany

 

 

Author

Gabriel A. Almond

This document, titled "The Size and Composition of the Anti-Nazi Opposition in Germany," was found among the reports of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSB) of the U.S. Air Force in the National Archives. The finder was Professor Karl-Heinz Reuband of the Institute of the Social Sciences of the Heinrich Heine University of Dusseldorf, who was engaged in research on German attitudes during the Nazi period. The report was identified in handwriting, "Technical Report, G. Almond." There is an illegible set of letters and numbers, designating its location in the National Archives. Professor Reuband notified me of his find, and sent me a copy.

This report, written in a collaboration with my colleague Wolfgang Kraus, the details of which I have forgotten, was one of the supporting reports of the Morale Division of USSBS. The Morale Division was headed by Rensis Likert, later of University of Michigan Survey Research Center fame. The USSBS social science team included several of the social psychologists who would later staff the Institute of Social Sciences and the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan--Rensis Likert, Angus Campbell, Daniel Katz, Dorwin Cartwright, as well as Otto Klineberg and Herbert Hyman of Columbia University. The major job of the Morale Division was to conduct an attitude survey on the effects of bombing on German morale using a questionnaire administered to probability sample of Germans in the immediate aftermath of the war.

In the Morale Division I was given the assignment of planning and conducting a supplementary study on documentary sources, such as surviving records of German police and intelligence organization and on interviews with captured and interned Gestapo and Sicherheitsdienst officials and surviving opposition leaders.

My section consisted of two six-men teams: one headed by me, and a second headed by Wolfgang Kraus, a political scientist knowledgeable about National Socialist Germany who was on leave from George Washington University. Each team had a jeep and weapons carrier, and consisted of two German-speaking GIs and one or two militay personnel. My team went east, first to Leipzig and Halle--to territory that would end up in the Soviet Zone, but at the time recently American-captured and still American-occupied--and then north to the British Zone--to Hannover, Braunschweig, Hamburg, Bremen, and Luebeck. Kraus's team went first to Cologne and then south to the American Zone, working in Wiesbaden, Mainz, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, and Munich. From mid-May until mid-July, the two teams were in the field accumulating documents, interviewing in the internment camps, and interviewing opposition and concentration camp survivors. In mid-July we gathered in Bad Nauheim, at the headquarters of the Strategic Bombing Survey, and drafte d the report. The report drew on our interviews and documentary materials. Some of the prose was written by Wolfgang Kraus, but I drafted and edited the final report. Wolfgang Kraus and I continued our collaboration when we returned to the States, ultimately producing two coauthored chapters on the German resistance in a book published in 1948. [1]

This is the text of our report.

Gabriel A. Almond

June 11, 1999

Data concerning the existence, size, and significance of an anti-Nazi opposition within Germany are forthcoming from two primary sources. The first source is the direct testimony of opposition leaders still surviving after the occupation; the second source consists of official German intelligence reports or interrogations of interned Gestapo and Sicherheitsdienst officials. The direct testimony of opposition leaders is, of course, subject to the qualification that it is to the interest of the leader and his group to represent the activities of his movement during the war years in the best possible light. Estimates of the size and scope of activities provided by such leaders may be viewed as more or less exaggerated. However the experience of Bombing Survey Field Teams also suggests that such estimates may in some cases be low rather than high because of the extreme secrecy in which such movements were forced to operate. For example, a number of Communist leaders knew in general terms that other Communist grou ps and cells were operating in their area, but because of the absence of any connection they were unable to estimate the size of the group. Throughout the opposition movement it was an elementary principle of safety, confirmed by repeated experience with Gestapo terror and torture, never to know more about the personnel and activities of the movement than was absolutely essential. In evaluating the information from this source it is also necessary to keep in mind that the best informants in a great many cases had been executed in the last wave of terror. Frequently the knowledge of the survivors was fragmentary; many of those who had occupied central points in the organization had fallen.

To some extent the lack of precise information from the side of the opposition groups themselves can be made good by official statistics and reports of the Nazi police agencies. [2] Here again the data are fragmentary because of the generally thorough execution of the order to destroy documents and records before the occupation. Even when such documents have been preserved official statistics of subversive and oppositional activity are subject to question. From the testimony of Gestapo officials it would appear to have been a frequent practice on the part of regional officials to "pad" their arrest statistics in order to show "progress". It is apparent, therefore that in dealing with quantitative estimates from either the oppositional or the official Nazi side, some correction must be made for exaggeration.

Some idea of the extent of oppositional activity throughout Germany can be obtained from the statistics of arrests by the Gestapo for the first six months of 1944 [Table 1].

The statistics of arrests for political offences for the first three months of 1944 give a general picture of the frequency of such acts throughout the Reich. However, acts of both Germans and foreign workers are grouped together. Even more confusion results from the fact that under "Reaction-Opposition" are included not only acts emanating from or tending toward the formation of right-wing groups, but the whole range of individual acts of opposition covered under "treachery" (Heimtuckeangelelegenheiten). This category includes arrests of individuals for the spreading of rumors, making jokes about the regime, listening to the BBC, etc. [Table 2].

Data for April, May, and June give us a clearer picture of the extent and composition of opposition in this period. Arrests for what the Gestapo labelled "communist" activity among Germans ranged from around 400 to more than 500 per month; while arrests for Marxist (Social-Democratic) activity were around 100 per month. "Reaction" (including "legitimism" and "liberalism") ranged between 300 and 350 for the same period. Figures for the last half of 1944 would undoubtedly have shown a large increase because of the wave of arrests among all oppositional circles after the July attempt on Hitler's life. The number of arrests in connection with this attempt has been estimated anywhere between 5,000 and 20,000.

For the three month period from April to June 1944 the number of arrests for Communist activity among Germans alone was 1442, for Social Democratic activity 282, for "Middle" and "right wing" opposition 1014. Individual "acts of treachery" not definitely connected with organized oppositional activity amounted to 4,426. Recognizing the possible exaggerations in these figures it is nevertheless legitimate to conclude that the frequency of organized oppositional activity, was probably several times the number of arrests

This impression is confirmed by interviews with oppositional leaders in various parts of Germany. In Hamburg, a city with a strong left wing tradition, a large number of anti-Nazi groups were identified. In the beginning of 1945 an Antifaschistiches Deutsches Kampf Komittee was established. This group was supposed to have included 700 Communists, Social Democrats, and other left wing elements, 200 of whom were organized into armed Hundertschaften (hundreds). The group possessed stolen antiaircraft guns, machine guns, rifles, and pistols. A former leader of the Social Democratic Reichsbanner (the Socialist paramilitary organization) estimated that about 600 former Reichsbanner men continued to meet together in small groups of 3-4.

In the Hamburg shipyards and plants anti-Nazi cells operated throughout the period of the war. In the Deutsche Werft, the largest shipyard on the continent, there was a nucleus of 36 primarily Communist activists with a larger group of sympathizers. In the Blohm and Voss shipyard it was estimated that some 250-300 workers were organized into anti-Nazi groups. In Menck and Hambrock, manufacturers of construction implements, there was a nucleus of 12 activists and a larger group of sympathizers. In the Hamburger Oelwerke there was a consolidated Communist and Social Democratic group of about 25 in 1944.

In Bremen the Communists had about two hundred activists. This figure was reported both from Gestapo and Communist sources. The Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei, a group to the left of the Social Democrats, had some thirty to forty activists. The Social Democrats had a few informal social groups. The aircraft plants FockeWulf and Weser Flugzeug A. G. had some thirty Communists. The shipyard Deschmag had around a hundred anti-fascists. In 1944 they formed a consolidated organization called "Kampf gegen Fascismus" (KGF) Immediately after the Allied occupation the KGF claimed a membership of over four thousand in Bremen, three-fourths from left wing groups, and the remainder from "middle of the road" elements.

The Social Democrats in Luebeck had a group of some 25-30 active members who met regularly and participated in political discussions during the early years of the war. By 1944 the SPD opposition numbered around two hundred, inclusive of foreign workers. In March of 1945 the activities of the group were discovered and most of the leaders were arrested. The Luebeck KPD in 1939 had 25-30 Germans organized in groups of three (Dreiergruppen). They had cells in the munitions plants, Deutsche Waffen and Munitionsfabrik and the Massenverpackung fuer Munition. in the last months before the occupation the KPD had an organized group of some 225 armed Germans and foreign workers. In March of 1945 the plan of this group to seize central points in Luebeck in order to prevent the town's defence was discovered and some 20 of the movement's leaders were arrested.

In Leipzig in 1943 a number of left wing groups formed a National Kommittee Freies Deutschland in response to Russian Radio propaganda. After the July 20, 1944 attempt on Hitler's life there were a large number of arrests, and in early 1945 some 53 leaders of the NKFD were executed. The membership of the NKFD immediately before the occupation is estimated at 300-400 members. Immediately after the occupation the group claimed a membership of several thousands. Halle numbered some 30 active Communists and Social Democrats. By 1943 it was claimed that among the police reservists there were 125 men ready to put themselves at the disposal of the opposition. Shortly before the occupation a consolidated Anti-Nationalsocialistische Bewegung was formed.

In the Ruhr and the Rheinland there is evidence of oppositional activity during the war years, but quantitative estimates from the side of the opposition itself are not available. The SPD and the KPD had small groups, but the former leaders of the Zentrum did not engage in organized opposition. The Gestapo reported more than 150 arrests in the Cologne area during the first six months of 1944; Dortmund reported 30.

In Frankfurt a/M the left claimed to have a hundred activists and sympathizers. Several of the industrial plants in the area had underground cells. In south Germany there is evidence of the existence of left wing groups in such towns as Munich, Kempten, and Tuebingen. An NKFD group was formed in Munich at the beginning of 1944.

Significance of Oppositional Activities for the Allied War Effort

Propaganda

During the years of the war, the major activity of the left wing oppositional groups was the spreading of propaganda. In the earlier years of the Nazi regime, the issuance of leaflets and even small newspapers was a commonplace. As the Nazi terror became more effective the issuance of leaflets became less frequent and the primary propaganda medium became mundpropaganda, the spread of information and slogans by word of mouth. This was done systematically. News heard from BBC the night before would be spread among the workers in the "breakfast pause", or at lunch time in the plants.

One of the most important contributions of the opposition for the air campaign of the Allies was the effort of many of the opposition organizations to counteract the Nazi Luftterror propaganda. In Leipzig the NKFD distributed a leaflet after the great raid of December 1943. The leaflet in part reads as follows:

The Nazi bosses are attempting to use this bombing attack as they are using the whole air war, as a means of directing the attention of the masses away from those who are truly guilty and strengthening their own piratical war effort. We anti-Fascists say to you:

1. The air war is a part of the whole war. Whoever is against the air war and its terrible effects, must be against the whole criminal war.

2. The air war was begun by Hitler and the German war criminals, just as the war in general was begun by them. Hitler wanted to "coventrize" the English cities, and to "erase" all of England. The Nazi press reported with sadistic satisfaction the destruction and suffering in England caused by the air attacks of the German air force. Therefore whoever is against the air war, must be against the man who started it, must be against Hitler.

3. The air war proves that Germany is conquerable. What do you think of Goering's false promises now, that no enemy airplanes would ever cross the German border? Just as you have been betrayed in this regard, so have the Nazis lied to you in all respects. We say to you: All Germany will lie in ruins, if we don't throw out these war criminals. The military power of the Allies is already so strong that the fate of Germany is settled. Therefore we say to you: Make an end of this hopeless war!

4. In every raid the Nazi leaders bring themselves to safety in plenty of time. They have their specially safe shelters. They have villas and country houses in Bavaria and the Tirol, where they can go in the event that their houses are damaged and continue their luxurious existence. They have their second layout of furniture and linens and everything else long in safety. Therefore remove these Nazi bosses.

5. The Nazis are consoling the people who have suffered from raids with the promise of revenge. With this promise of revenge the people are supposed to hope for victory. We say to you: that is also a lie. Even if we should discover a weapon of revenge, this discovery will be turned against us and the air war against Germany will take on proportions which are unimaginable. Therefore we say to you: Don't believe in this swindle of Nazi revenge!

The Leipzig Anti-Fascists tell you what to do. When an air raid comes, first you must save your own life. Run to safety. In case of an air raid, leave the armament plants and take care of your families and dwellings. The whole war industry may be destroyed, but you must preserve your own lives. Don't permit the Nazi industrial bosses or the plant police to keep you in the factory. After a raid stay away from your job; excuse yourself by claiming the need of cleaning up debris, or poor transportation conditions. "Langsam arbeiten" leads to a quicker end of the war. Help one another when it is possible to save the lives, dwellings, and possessions of other workers. The life of the German worker is a thousand times more important than the armament plants of the Nazi criminals.

Fight with the Anti-Fascists against the Total War of Hitler for a Total Peace!

Similar leaflets were reported to have been distributed in such towns as Hamburg, Bremen, and Cologne, but copies were no longer available. Where there were no leaflets, similar arguments were advanced orally at the breakfast and lunch periods in plants, in queues before stores, even in shelters during the long period of anxious waiting.

Sabotage

Sabotage in its more dramatic forms was not frequent. There are some reports of sabotage of U-boats and other vessels by German Communists in the Hamburg and Bremen shipyards. The Gestapo in Hannover discovered frequent cases of sabotage in armament plants for which Russian workers were primarily responsible. But wherever there were left wing oppositional groups the slogan "Langsam Arbeiten" was spread. Oppositional activists in positions of administrative responsibility sometimes sabotaged on the job. A woman member of the NKFD in Leipzig who was in charge of female labor discipline in the Reichstreuhaender der Arbeit (the agency in charge of foreign workers), administered the minimum penalty, and encouraged some of her colleagues to do the same. Foremen in the Deutsche Werft in Hamburg deliberately wasted steel, and slowed down U-boat production by delaying in the transmission of information as to changes in design.

Undermining of Volkssturm and Efforts to Prevent Last-Ditch Resistance

As the war neared an end and the German military manpower shortage became more and more apparent the Nazis attempted to ensure a last ditch resistance through the calling up of the Volkssturm (the levy of older men and boys). There is evidence from a number of areas from opposition sources that anti-fascist groups attempted to infiltrate the Volkssturm and undermine its will to resist. Certainly, on the whole the poor record of the Volkssturm cannot be attributed to this oppositional sabotage. Even to Nazis the small numbers, lack of training, and inferior arms of the Volkssturm in contrast to the numbers and equipment of the attacking troops was apparent. This overwhelming physical and technical disproportion and the general hopelessness of resistance were undoubtedly the primary factors in the widespread demoralization of Volkssturm units. But wherever there were oppositional groups efforts were made to render the hopelessness of resistance clear through propaganda.

In a number of cases oppositional groups put pressure on the authorities to yield towns without fighting; in one or two cases armed uprisings were planned to yield areas without resistance.

The Leipzig NKFD issued a leaflet on April 14 exhorting the Germans not to defend the town.

The Nazi regime is about to collapse! American and English troops stand before our city. In order to avoid further bloodshed and destruction of the remnants of our residential and industrial areas, we must mobilize all the anti-fascist forces. The solution is: an end to the insane war of the Nazis. The hour of emancipation from Nazi slavery is at hand. Now it is necessary to act! What is to be done?

No resistance to the English and Americans!

Resistance means death and destruction!

Resisting soldiers should be disarmed.

Orders to report to the Volkssturm should be disobeyed!

On April 16 a leaflet in the form of an open letter addressed to the Oberburgermeister and Polizeipresident of Leipzig was distributed. The leaflet urged the hopelessness of any further resistance, and held the authorities responsible for any death and destruction resulting from resistance in Leipzig. "We are making you responsible for every sacrifice and all destruction resulting from resistance .... We demand surrender of our city without resistance in the interest of the population of Leipzig."

The Leipzig opposition leaders claim that in Lindenau, a Leipzig worker's neighborhood where the NKFD was strong, the Volkssturm revolted. They also claim that no resistance was offered the American troops in these workers' areas.

In Hamburg the Antifa planned an internal revolt in the event of a decision by Gauleiter Kaufmann to resist. Soldiers in the Hindenburg and Mackensen barracks are reported as having been prepared to mutiny. 5,000 copies of a leaflet were distributed in Blohm and Voss five weeks before the occupation urging the workers not to defend the town. Although the workers were threatened if they did not hand in the leaflets, only 47 of the total were given to the authorities. During the last weeks before the occupation a unit of 250 partly armed men was formed among the Blohm and Voss workers, and it was planned to use these units to seize key buildings in the town in the event of resistance in Hamburg. The antifascist organizations also sent delegations to Hamburg industrialists threatening violence if the town was defended. The industrialists were ordered to go to the Gauleiter at once and inform him that the Hamburg workers were taking up arms and would revolt unless the town were peacefully surrendered. The Antifa distributed leaflets among the Volkssturm and posted a public announcement in the Gaensemarkt (Goose Market) to the effect that the town was to be surrendered without resistance. The declaration was torn down by SS men, but not before its contents had become publicly known.

In Halle a/S the Anti-Nazional-Sozialistische Bewegung (ANB) issued two leaflets urging surrender without resistance. Both of the leaflets urged surrender in order to prevent the destruction of Halle by thousands of bombers. "People of Halle," read the first leaflet, "The hour of decision is at hand. The Americans stand before the gates of the city. Do not resist the approaching Americans, or else thousands of bombers ... will lay your city in ashes, and will destroy you, your wives, and children. Do you wish to die in order to preserve the lives of the Party bosses for a few days?" The second leaflet again argued that Halle, which had suffered very little from raids would be destroyed by bombs if resistance were offered. "One thing we must prevent: that our city like all other large German cities should be reduced to rubble, that our wives and children should be killed by the tens of thousands. This will certainly happen if Halle is uselessly defended. A great air raid by Allied bombers will be the immediate consequence."

Representatives of the ANB met the American forces on the outskirts of the city, told them the town was undefended and prevented any attack on the town. Within the city opposition leaders before the arrival of American troops seized the police and party headquarters and prevented looting and destruction of records.

In Luebeck in March of 1944 the Communist opposition issued a leaflet urging that the time for active opposition had come, that the war was lost because of the Allied conquests and the destruction of German industry by air attacks. The group had 225 armed men--Germans and foreign workers--and claim to have had an arsenal of eleven machine guns, 180 rifles, 300 pistols, explosives, and hand grenades. They had a detailed plan for the seizure of Luebeck, and a number of trucks were available to them. The plot was discovered on March 23, and the leaders were imprisoned.

In Munich the right wing Bavarian separatist group Freedom Action Bavaria organized an armed revolt on April 28, and broadcast from a radio station for a short period of time. The revolt was put down, but the effort stimulated other groups in the Munich area, and played a role in the surrender of the town.

The Effect of Air Raids on Opposition

The effects of strategic bombing on the extent and effectiveness of oppositional activity may be treated under three categories: 1) positive, 2) negative, 3) the effects of different types of bombing experience on oppositional activity.

The primary positive effects of strategic bombing in oppositional activity were: a) rendering the public more receptive to oppositional propaganda: b) increasing the size and the intensity of oppositional group activity; c) creating physical and administrative disorder which permitted greater freedom of action on the part of oppositional groups.

Receptivity to Oppositional Propaganda

The leaders of the NKFD in Leipzig testified that the great raid of December 4, 1943 was the "turning point" in German morale. The raids preceding this had been small and appeared to have been directed at random targets. These small RAF night raids had been grist for the Nazi propaganda mill. But the full significance of strategic bombing was brought home with the December 1943 raid. To the minds of the Leipzig population it signified the breakdown of German defense. From this point on, according to the NKFD leaders it was possible to reach increasingly larger elements among the public with propaganda concerning the hopelessness of the German war situation.

The Hamburg Communist and Social Democratic leaders similarly testiied that it was easier to reach workers and bring them around to the oppositional point of view after air raids. The workers were more rebellious after raids. A Hamburg Social Democratic leader asserted that there was a process of radicalization as the air war was pressed home. The slogan among the workers was "Better an end with horror, than horror without end" (Besser eine ende mit schrecken, als schrecken ohne ende).

The Bremen opposition leaders claim that air raids did not result in increasing hatred of the Allies or of the opposition, but resulted in a widespread opposition to the war itself. In general the Bremen antifascist leadership felt that the population of the city became more receptive to oppositional propaganda as a consequence of the air raids.

Though the city of Halle suffered only minor damage through raids, the threat of bombing was always present. Nearby town and industrial concentrations were heavily raided, and Halle was on the route of the air fleets bound for Berlin. In the judgment of Halle opposition leaders the onset of the great raids on Germany in 1942 and 1943 was the first tangible military evidence that Germany had lost the war. Persons previously unapproachable were more receptive to oppositional talk. Criticism of the regime was expressed more openly. The great raids over Germany made it possible for the opposition to come more into the open. It was possible to speak to people in street cars and on the streets. The opposition tried to direct reactions to news of the destructive effects of raids into anti-Nazi channels by spreading such slogans as "Je schwerer der Krieg auf uns lastet, umso schneller kommt der Krieg zu Ende" (The heavier the war weighs on us, the more quickly will the war come to an end).

Increases in The Size and Intensity of Oppositional Activity

Evidence from both the side of the Gestapo and the opposition indicates an increase in the number, size, and intensity of activity of oppositional groups beginning in 1943. These developments, however, cannot be attributed in any specific way to the air war. Encouragement to the opposition resulted from the general shift in the war situation, of which the air war was only a part. No evidence is available which shows any connection between personal bombing experience, and recruitment to active opposition, although such experience may have been an important motivating factor.

Physical and Administrative Disorder

One of the important consequences of air raids for oppositional activity was the creation of physical and administrative confusion and disorder. The most dramatic evidence of this aid to oppositional activity was found in Hamburg. According to German army authorities there existed in Hamburg during 1944 and until the end of the war an enterprise to hide and maintain army deserters. Neither the Military Police nor the Gestapo was able to break it up. Leading Hamburg Anti-Fascists claimed that they had been able to hide up to thirty deserters at a time, in the air raid ruins in the city. Some were hidden for as long as a year and more. Identity papers were forged and jobs were found for the deserters. The antifascists undertook a campaign of encouraging soldiers on furlough in Hamburg to desert. They would then hide and feed them until it was possible safely to return the deserters to civilian life with false papers.

A Gestapo official from Hannover testified that Russian workers sometimes engaged in sabotage during air raids. The plant police went into the shelters leaving the plant unprotected. In a Hannover tank factory Russian workers took advantage of this opportunity by cutting power transmission belts, sabotaging guns and tanks. Claims were made by the Leipzig left wing leaders that oppositionists wanted by the Gestapo would be given out as air raid casualties, and were enabled to commence new existences under false papers.

The freedom of action of oppositional groups was also increased through air raids as a consequence of the disruption of the police apparatus. Gestapo headquarters were sometimes hit, and valuable card files were destroyed. The network of undercover agents engaged in the observation of oppositional activities was frequently disrupted.

The Breakdown of Oppositional Communications

Just as the network of intelligence, communications and control of the Nazis was frequently disturbed and sometimes even shattered by air raids, so also did the activities of some oppositional groups suffer from the same disturbances. This was particularly true of groups which strove to maintain more than local connections. The testimony of a member of the Wehrmacht opposition is good evidence of this negative consequence of air raids. This particular Wehrmacht officer was functioning as a liaison man (Verbindungsmann) for the Anti-Nazi officer circle. After the onset of larger raids he found it increasingly difficult to maintain contact between the various local oppositional Wehrmacht groups. He would often arrive in cities only to find that the address to which he had been directed was that of a bombed out house. Frequently in the disorder and confusion in bombed cities he would be unable to locate and reestablish the ties thus disrupted by bombing. In Hannover a Communist informant similarly complained th at it was difficult to reestablish contacts even within Hannover itself after severe raids. He pointed out that while the public was more receptive to oppositional propaganda, contacts were disrupted and people had less time to devote to carrying on oppositional activity. This disruption of oppositional contacts in Hannover was also reported from the side of the Social Democrats.

A leader of the Zentrum Party in Cologne pointed out that it became increasingly difficult to call together small meetings of oppositional people in a social way because of the continual threat of air raids. The fear of raids was so great that people were unwilling to go far from their shelters.

While oppositional communications suffered as a consequence of air raids, its importance should not be overestimated. By the time of the outbreak of the war oppositional activity had already been atomized by Nazi espionage and terror. Oppositional organization was primarily local. The main activity of organized resistance was propaganda, and the main coordinating medium was Allied radio. The continuation of these activities was not dependent upon an elaborate system of communications. Connections within the town itself could in most cases be reestablished after a raid without much difficulty.

Physical Exhaustion and Reduction of Working

Just as Gestapo officials admitted that the increasing tempo and severity of air raids wore them down physically and psychologically and reduced the amount of time and energy available for their work, so also did the effectiveness of oppositional activity decrease from the same causes. Evidence with regard to these air raid consequences came from many areas in Germany but were particularly stressed in reports from Cologne and Hannover, two cities among the most heavily bombed in Germany in proportion to population and area.

A leader of the Zentrum in Cologne claimed that the air raids had been so severe that all elements of the population lacked the will and energy to engage in any activity save that related to the immediate needs of finding shelter, food, and safety. Leaders of the KPD and SPD in Hannover pointed out that much of the time of the oppositional groups was taken up in locating comrades after raids, in helping the bombed-out to find places to stay, clothing, furniture, and the like. They also stressed the physiological exhaustion which followed after air raids, and the incapacity of people to think of anything save the danger of the moment.

Types of Bombing and Oppositional Activity

A number of interesting connections between differences in bombing experience and oppositional activity were observed. The bombing of workers' quarters through raids on industrial areas, and area raids created difficult problems of explanation for the oppositional leadership everywhere. The special severity of the bombing of Cologne, a Catholic city never fertile soil for Nazism, appears to have created hostility toward the Allies. The question on all sides was "Why should Cologne, a city in which the Nazis had one of their weakest footholds, suffer the most severe and most continuous bombing of all?"

Two members of the Austrian resistance movement who had been eyewitness of the raid on Vienna of February 28, 1945, and who had been able to escape to neutral territory, protested against this area raid. [3] They claimed that the earlier raids on industrial installations had been understood and appreciated by the Austrian resistance groups, but the "carpet raids" since September of 1944 had created hostility toward the Allies among the resistance groups. The informants stated that the destructive and aimless character of the raids had embittered the population, and caused them to make unfavorable comparisons of Allied bombing policy with that of Russia. They also claimed that this type of air warfare contributed to a favorable reaction on the part of the Austrian population to the Nazi Lufiterror propaganda.

With regard to the important question of the effects of differences in the severity and continuity of bombing upon oppositional activity the data on the whole is fragmentary and inadequate. Some of the sharper contrasts may be made by comparing the experience of Hamburg, Luebeck, and Cologne [Table 3].

It is of interest that the city of Luebeck received a bomb lead of only 5,000 tons, and a large proportion of that in the single RAF area raid in 1942. By the testimony of Luebeck opposition leaders the primary effect of this area raid was to arouse hostility against the Allies. The question raised on all sides was, "Why should Luebeck, an anti-Nazi town of little importance industrially, have been the recipient of this first great area raid?" Parts of the older and historically most valuable and picturesque areas of the town were destroyed. In addition there was no follow up after the 1942 raid and the town was able to recover rapidly. In the judgment of opposition leaders the specific air raid experience of Luebeck, if anything, hindered oppositional activity. Certainly the immediate consequences of the 1942 raid was to increase the hostility of the population against the Allies.

The contrast between Cologne and Hamburg with regard to the extent and effectiveness of oppositional activity has already been indicated. In Hamburg there was an aggressive left wing tradition and comparatively large groups of activists. In Cologne the evidence suggests a relatively small amount of left wing and Zentrist activity. Both political tradition and bombing experience contributed to these patterns. Hamburg historically was a left wing town. The most aggressive groups in general under the Nazis were the left wing groups. Cologne on the other hand, was a town in which the Catholic Party, the Zentrm, dominated. In proportion to area and population Cologne received approximately twice as heavy a bomb load as Hamburg. The Hamburg oppositional groups according to their own testimony were able to retain their aggressiveness, and utilize the opportunities presented by air raids. The Cologne informants report that although raids resulted in an increase in war-weariness and susceptibility to oppositional pro paganda, the severity of the raids was so great as to result in a general breakdown of all activity including that of the oppositional groups. Unfortunately data on other towns is not adequate to confirm and elaborate this probable relationship between the severity and continuity of bombing experience and the degree and effectiveness of oppositional activity.

Notes

(1.) Gabriel A. Almond, (Ed) The Struggle for Democracy in Germany, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1948, Chapters 2 and 3.

(2.) The only Gestapo statistics which survived had been acquired by the OSS, and were from the Meldungen Aus Dem Reich, for the first six months of 1944. The Meldungen were the central reports of the Sicherheitsdienst, Himmler's top intelligence organization, and to have gotten them was a great coup for the OSS. I got access to these reports through the coincidence that the 0SS was anxious to get copies of USSBS interviews with opposition leaders which I had in my possession. Alex George, now my professional colleague at Stanford, and then a Young GI working for the OSS, trailed my team "through the underbrush" so to speak, and we struck a deal--the OSS Meldungen for my interviews. I suppose that these reports had been gotten by the OSS through an agent. I never saw anything more than the reports for the first six months of 1944, it may be that this is all that the OSS had. All government departments were under strict orders to destroy documents as the Allied armies neared. We encountered charred records in some of the Gestapo headquarters that we investigated. The copies that I received from the OSS had been "sanitized." Anything identifying how they had been acquired, or from which unit of the Gestapo they had come, had been eliminated.

(3.) This particular report came from an OSS document (#F 1583).

                Consolidation of Statistics of Arrests from
                  The Regional Offices of the Gestapo for
                            January-March 1944
             January February March Total
Communism/    1,340    1877    1283  4500
  Marxism
Reaction-      2079    2154    2322   655
  Opposition
          Consolidation of Statistics of Arrests From the Regional
                Offices of The Gestapo for April-June, 1944
              April           May           June           Total
             German Foreign German Foreign German Foreign German Foreign
Communism     391     882     523   1551     528    850    1442   3283
Marxism        90      24     107      7      85     15     282     46
Reaction-     294     235     321    246     399    324    1014    805
  Opposition
Treachery     937     628    1204    709    2285    913    4426   2250
            Bombing Experience of Hamburg, Leubeck, and Cologne
        Pop. 1939  Total  Percent Percent Percent High
                  Tonnage  Night   Area    Explosives
Luebeck   185,000  5,000    49      49         67
Hamburg 1,711,000 41,300    52      65         82

Cologne   772,000 47,000    63      67         76

 
 

  

 

 

King David High School 2002