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10 - Involving the Party, 1943–1944

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 October 2021

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Summary

After Stalingrad, the Gestapo only dealt with critics the Party identified as threats. Case load dropped 76 per cent while charges under capital offences rose to a rate of one-in-three. Yet selective enforcement continued. Each institution took on different roles. The Gestapo relied on political officials to warn loyal offenders and identify subversives. The Party singled out repeat offenders when education failed, and case officers rubber-stamped their preliminary investigations. The judiciary could then punish anything that filtered up with lengthy deterrent sentences. New roles shaped new standards and practices. The damning classification of “doubtful attitudes” blurred lines between defeatism and subversion. Distinctions between actions and motive disappeared for repeat offenders. Investigation practices also sharpened as focus narrowed to targeted minorities and opinionmakers. Surveillance and torture were used in any case with the slightest hint of organized resistance. Sentencing practices followed in step. Leftist slogans were once again treason, and Marxists who encouraged surrender risked execution. The dangers multiplied for a select few deemed opponents by the Party.

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Enemies of the People
Hitler's Critics and the Gestapo
, pp. 221 - 244
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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