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

  • Gabriel A. Almond and Wolfgang Krauss


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 groups 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.



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1. Almond, Gabriel A., (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 OSS 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).

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

  • Gabriel A. Almond and Wolfgang Krauss


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