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Enemies of the People
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Book description

How do terror and popularity merge under a dictatorship? How did the Gestapo deal with critics of Nazism? Based on hundreds of secret police case files, Enemies of the People explores the day-to-day reality of political policing under Hitler. Examining the Gestapo's policy of 'selective enforcement', J. Ryan Stackhouse challenges the abiding perception of the Gestapo as policing exclusively through terror. Instead, he reveals the complex system of enforcement that defined the relationship between state and society in the Third Reich and helps to explain the Germans' abiding support for Hitler and their complicity in the regime's crimes. Stories of everyday life in Nazi Germany paint the clearest picture yet of just how differently the Gestapo handled certain groups and actions, and the routine investigation, interrogation, and enforcement practices behind this system. Enemies of the People offers penetrating insights into just how reasonable selective enforcement appeared to Germans, and draws unavoidable parallels with the contemporary threat of authoritarianism.


‘Memorable and chilling. Stackhouse's eminently readable book offers fresh insights into political policing in Nazi Germany and helps us to better understand how the Gestapo's rule of terror worked.'

Robert Gerwarth - University College Dublin

‘An eye-opening book about the tyranny of law, this archive-based account of violent policing in Nazi Germany adds considerably to our understanding of the Gestapo. Drawing on thousands of case files from a key government district, Stackhouse has written a regional history of ‘selective enforcement.' Chock-a-block with fascinating detail, Enemies of the People illuminates brightly the local-and legal-origins of dictatorship.'

Jens Meierhenrich - London School of Economics and Political Science

‘Stackhouse's focus on the Gestapo's ‘selective enforcement' broadens our understanding of policing the Volksgemeinschaft and of the Nazi state. His impressive book also has much to say about visions of an ‘authoritarian rule of law' in general and should be required reading.'

Katrin Paehler - Illinois State University

‘This shows us how the Gestapo ruthlessly targeted political and ‘racial' opponents but proceeded cautiously, even routinely, against reliable members of the ‘people's community' accused of a crime-thereby ensuring broad support for Nazism while gradually hollowing out the rule of law. This unsettling study is a major achievement!'

Dennis Sweeney - University of Alberta

‘Stackhouse's fascinating book demonstrates how frighteningly quickly the Nazis managed to exert control over a region in which the majority of people had not voted for them. The central insight is how easy it is for authoritarian rulers to set up sustainable regimes.'

Thomas Weber - University of Aberdeen

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