I am currently reading “The Good Germans, Resisting the Nazis, 1933 – 1945” by Catrine Clay. I am ¾ of the way through and am having a short rest break. She describes very well the way in which the NSDAP achieved a firstly, place in Government and then speedily, absolute power, and the increasingly onerous and hostile measures they put in place against their perceived opponents among their own people, and of course, the Jewish people simply for being Jewish. At first the members of other political parties and those with no particular interest in politics thought that life would go on as usual, political debate and activity would carry on and the normal way of life would be as before. But as soon as the NSDAP achieved power in January 1933 they set about organising concentration camps, the first of which was up and running in March of the same year. Political parties other than the NSDAP were soon proscribed and their members began to be arrested and “disappeared”.
People who had been against Hitler and the NSDAP from the start soon realised that they must keep their opinions to themselves, and as time went on, many joined the party and outwardly became Nazis (an abbreviation of the full title of the NSDAP) in order to keep their jobs and their businesses going. As the Nazi rule tightened its grip, so people who would never have thought of actively resisting their Government found themselves convinced that there was no other way of getting rid of them except by some sort of action. The author discusses and describes the dilemmas of such people as they found themselves driven to contemplate violence of one sort or another including for some, the assassination of Hitler himself. She does so by following the individual lives of some very different Germans through the period in question.
I have had to pause my reading several times as the parallels between the Germany of the 1930s and 40s under Hitler and the America of recent history under Trump, the lies and disinformation of the Conservative Party in this country since 2016, and now, of course, the extraordinary statements and actions coming out of Russia in its attack on Ukraine become all too plain and horribly relevant, and very painful to someone of my age who lived through the Nazi era. The dilemma remains, and anyone reading the pages of Twitter can see it being acted out. Hatred of the Conservative Government in this country is repeatedly expressed, and people ask over and over again, “What can we do ?” and are made to realise that the answer is “nothing” until there is a General Election (under a non representative electoral system), unless civil disobedience and its accompanying violence and destruction of property is invoked. We have seen a failed attempt to take over the White House by illegal means in the USA, driven by Trump, and Russia is currently pursuing a policy of “lebensraum” against Ukraine, but without the easy walk overs of Hitler in Austria and the Sudetenland.
It is a book (there are others too) which needs to be read more widely in today’s UK if only to open people’s eyes to the situation in which they are living. But that sort of reading is, I think, a minority activity today, and the media which could warn people is either too timid, or unaware, or controlled by the hostile interests themselves.