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Reece Jordan

Reece Jordan


Total Article : 168

About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.

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How Popular was the Nazi Regime? pt.3


Robert Gellately also makes a reference to the denunciations of ordinary people when describing how they were actively complicit in cultivating an atmosphere that appeared as an all-pervasive terror. However, where Gellately’s argument is stronger than Rees’ lies in the fact that he recognises the limits of denunciations in their contribution to painting a picture of the people’s complicity. He states, “at times they were motivated by selfish reasons, often linked to active hatred and the profit motive”[1]. Here it is clear that Gellately asserts a balanced view in that he understands that denunciations do play a key role in allowing us to understand the extent to which the German people were fond of the Nazi regime, but he also appreciates how a complete reliance on denunciations as a sign of Nazi popularity has its shortcomings. This appears true in the knowledge that in one study of 213 case files in Dusseldorf, it was found that 37 per cent denounced someone to resolve a personal conflict[2]. Whilst this evidence is limited in that it only illustrates the effect of denunciations of one area, the findings of such a study force us to question the validity of using denunciations as an instrument to implicate the German people as having sympathised with and actively contributed towards the Nazi regime. The other side to an insight into denunciations, as Robert Gellately alluded to, is that they instead contribute to the notion that the German people, rather than being dutiful to the regime, were self-serving and able to exploit the apparatus set up by the Nazis in order to achieve their own goals.

Furthermore, it seems that the discussion of denunciations may be one that has been emphasised, even to the extent that it could be termed as exaggerated. Burleigh references a contemporary image evoked of “desk-bound policemen, almost buried under the avalanche of denunciations from ordinary citizens”[3], an image that he himself contributes towards (“Churches, pubs, barbers and railway waiting rooms were treacherous places in which to venture unguarded opinions to”[4]). Such a depiction is false: in 1937, there were 17,168 cases of ‘Malicious Gossip’ reported to the Gestapo throughout the whole of Germany, a very small amount that betrays the image of an ‘avalanche’[5]. Whilst such a fact tarnishes Burleigh’s argument in that it provides a completely contrasting picture to his own, it also extends into Rees’: it renders his image of an actively compliant society as one that has been inflated by – and relied too heavily on - small amounts of evidence.

It appears, then, that in regards to the role played by terror to illustrate whether or not the Nazi regime achieved a certain degree of popularity, Burleigh’s argument is deeply flawed. His repeated assertion that the population of Germany during the Nazi regime was under constant suppression is only partly true and manifested itself mainly in the passing of legislation rather than the persistent enactment of such. His conflicting notion that the public was voraciously denunciating is also misconstrued, and does not stand up to evidence


5 Gellately, R – ‘Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany’, (OUP Oxford, 2002) – pg.10

[2]Mcdonough, F – ‘The Gestapo – The Myth and Reality of Hitler’s Secret Police – pg. 130

[3] Burleigh, M, ‘The Third Reich’ pg.183

[4] Burleigh, M, ‘The Third Reich’ pg. 171-172

[5] Mcdonough, F – ‘The Gestapo – The Myth and Reality of Hitler’s Secret Police – pg. 132


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