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By Hans Mommsen

German resistance to Hitler is a relevant section of the historical past of Nazism. during this textual content, modern historian Hans Mommsen finds the variety of the political goals held by way of 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 army oppositions. those resistance teams all endeavoured to discover a plausible substitute to Hitler and to accomplish an ethical renewal of politics and society - even supposing a lot of them rejected democracy and had a occasionally ambivalent perspective in the direction of the persecution of the Jews.

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Rather, our own experience of dictatorships, as well as the more detailed knowledge we now have of the conditions under which the plotters were trying to operate, teaches us that their chances of bringing down the regime from within were virtually non-existent. On the other hand, our consideration of the resistance should not be limited to isolating its moral dimension. The phrase ‘rebellion of the conscience’ rightly reminds us that deliberately taking action that bordered on high treason required deeper ethical commitments, beside which political interests and social motives were secondary.

Yet it would be wrong to identify the resistance with the inherently problematic concept of a ‘conservative revolution’; the resistance represents a broader current embracing both nationalism and the 1920s critique of civilisation, as well as the dawning idea of a united Europe. It thus stood outside the traditional polarity between ‘left’ and ‘right’. The youth-movement, experience of the trenches, and Nietzschean and neo-Kantian philosophy, all had as much influence on the resistance as they did on the intellectual foundations of the rise of National Socialism.

The early plans for a new order, especially those developed within the Abwehr and by the von Hassell and Popitz groups, started from the assumption that the political slate had been wiped clean. This was the apparent result of the Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung (‘co-ordination’) and the general depoliticising of the population through Nazi propaganda. No one entertained the possibility of a multi-party system and a return to parliamentary democracy. Indeed, a glance at the map of continental Europe left the impression that the parliamentary principle was outmoded.

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