From compliance to resistance : the turn of the German military against Hitler : a course for prospective teachers of German / Judith Coddington Hecker.
American schools are replete with material for all levels of education on the Second World War, the National Socialist regime, and the atrocities committed during the twelve years Adolf Hitler was in power (Goodrich and Hachett 1955; Richter 1987). There is, however, comparatively little to show that within that regime which controlled a nation and held a continent hostage, there were many thousands of Germans of all ages and walks of life who sacrificed themselves trying to turn the tide. Among them were the officers and diplomats who were considered Nazis from outside Germany, and traitors from within, who had to overcome their sense of disloyalty and dishonor for undermining their government and replace it with the determination to save their country at all costs, during the blackest period of the Twentieth Century. After learning of Nazi crimes, senior career officer Chief of General Staff Ludwig Beck, who had initially supported Hitler's attempts to right the wrongs imposed by the 1919 Versailles Treaty, became a key figure in the resistance. Ambassador Ulrich von Hassell soon joined him. In a hospital recovering from wounds suffered on the North African Front, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg decided that succeed or fail, something had to be done to halt the needless slaughter he had witnessed, and resolved to assassinate Hitler himself. The following study is designed to provide guidelines for an undergraduate or advanced placement level introductory course on the resisters in the military who before and during World War II plotted to overthrow Hitler. The purpose of the course is twofold: first, to enable a better understanding of living conditions in the police state that existed in Germany between 1933 and 1945 and the ways in which people who opposed the system coped; and second, to provide authentic reading materials which reflect the intense intellectual and moral struggles of the resisters. Although there were many opponents of the Nazi regime, this group is particularly important because of the complete reversal of loyalty and commitment that it underwent within the confines of the Führer's inner circle. The approach is to examine their personal perspectives as described in their correspondence, diaries, memoranda, and other documents set against the background of their place in history. The study begins with a chapter on the National Socialist takeover of Germany and Hitler's preparations for war. The second chapter examines the events leading to attempts to change the military and the armament policies, communication among circles of opposition, and efforts to secure help from foreign powers. Chapter Three deals with the beginnings of the war and the development of plans for a coup. Chapter Four describes the attempts to assassinate Hitler, the circumstances which brought about their failure, and the consequences of those failures. The fifth chapter includes letters from prison, written farewells to loved ones, and the legacy of the resisters in the military. The final chapter suggests methods of presenting the personal papers, which will reveal the people behind the plots and failed coups d'état.
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