Worm in the Apple
German Traitors and Other Influences
That Pushed the World Into War:

The little-known story of the men who destroyed Adolf Hitler's Germany

Friedrich Lenz

3. The three main groups of Hitler's opponents

Before proceeding to shed light on the nature of these 'contributions', I will first outline the various groups that made up Hitler's opponents. I distinguish among three major categories:

I. The group of natural opponents, who opposed the National-Socialist Idea, and thus Hitler, for ideological reasons. This included all the Marxists, who neither could nor wanted to distance themselves from Marxism. Of the Communists, a greater percentage remained loyal to their beliefs than of the Social-Democrats, from whose ranks the dethroned functionaries made up most of Hitler's opponents while the broad masses of their former followers went over to Hitler.

From the parties of the political center, the contingent of adversaries was composed in the main of tenacious adherents to the Weimar Republic, with supporters drawn from all those denominations that felt threatened by National-Socialism. A large component had recruited itself from representatives of 'Reaction' among the nobility, large-scale agriculture and industry.

On the whole, this group consisted of the former 'powers-that-be'. Hitler seems not to have read Machiavelli closely enough, else he would have realized before 1944 that no ruler is ever completely sure of his power as long as those from whom said power was taken, remain alive - by which I in no way mean to suggest that he should have eliminated them physically.

This major group could not be dislodged from its stance of opposition, no matter how successful Hitler was. He was the fly in their ointment. They viewed everything through their own personal prism, and judged all measures in the vein of the following example: "The KdF ships are nothing other than troop transport ships intended to serve in Hitler's conquest of the peaceful world, and are only used now for KdF cruises so as not to become decrepit through disuse."8

Their fundamental attitude towards Hitler was so stubborn that if he had increased their income tenfold - their pensions, for example, which most of them continued to receive - they would have been furious at his brutal callousness in making them count and spend so much money.

II. The second group was composed of those members of the populace who, in part, were initially kindly disposed towards the new system and, in part, adopted an attitude of wait-and-see, and who then had their noses put out of joint either by Hitler himself or by one of his subordinates, usually in some ridiculously trivial matter, or who felt that not enough attention was being paid to them, and who therefore decided to join the opposition, without considering whether the offense had perhaps been justified in the interests of the foremost aims of the state - according to the truism that "you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."

If one considers, today, what the majority of the German people have had to endure at the hands of their conquerors and rulers ever since 1945, then it is appalling to note the petty trivialities that prompted people to join in a fatal opposition to a government supported by the entire nation. The motives for doing so were generally injured vanity, egotistical interests, small-minded revenge, or similar base and spiteful reasons. It is interesting to note how these motivations show up like the proverbial thread of Ariadne in most of Hitler's major enemies. The very extensive literature on this topic reveals this clearly.9

"They put their revenge on ice," it was aptly phrased by one who had allegedly suffered an unjustified beating at the hands of overzealous SA-men, and then let himself be pushed into the role of chief spy for the pro-Soviet espionage organization Rote Kapelle, in which capacity he became responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of German soldiers. Or one may read up on the way in which Herr Kempner 'became' the chief prosecutor of the German people in Nuremberg. How much more admirable was General v. Fritsch who, at least outwardly, was satisfied with Hitler's apology before the other Generals for the wrong that had been done him, and with his promotion to Chief of a regiment! Fritsch died an honourable soldier's death. There was also no reason to believe that he ever participated in enemy operations.10

III. The third category includes all those who were on the whole kindly disposed towards the new system but who eventually took offence at measures whose real significance in relation to the magnitude of world events they were unable to assess properly due to their lack of a realistic perspective, and whose humanitarian sentiments were outraged by events which either were in fact to be condemned or which could only be understood from a revolutionary vantage point. These include: the operation of June 30, 1934,11 the treatment of the Jews and of the clergymen dabbling in politics, the combatting of resistance fighters and partisans during the war, etc.Stauffenberg For the most part, however, the members of this third category were entrapped by enemy propaganda or by the hate-mongering of the first two categories, and in time were shepherded into the camp of the opposition.12

It is tragic that the head of the would-be assassins of July 20, Colonel Count v. Stauffenberg - one of the few who were even willing to give his life for the deed, if necessary, and who for that reason deserves a certain amount of respect - was one of those officers who had been disciplined by their superiors for participating in the procession of January 30, 1933, out of sheer enthusiasm for Hitler's Movement. This tragic element is particularly manifest in the case of Stauffenberg's friend, Captain Klausing, Klausing who at his trial in the People's Court manfully told Freisler: "I participated in the attempts to remove Hitler in complete awareness of the responsibility I incurred in doing so. To be sure, now that I know who masterminded this revolt and who would probably have benefitted from it, I can see that it would have come to a bad end, had the attempt succeeded, and I realize that I have served the wrong cause."

I think it would be useful at this point to quote two summarizing assessments of Hitler's enemies by leading members of the Resistance. In his book Bis zum bitteren Ende, H. B. Gisevius wrote: "Communists, Social Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives and Christians all drew their own conclusions from the past and present. On the whole, they agreed only on the negative aspect: National-Socialism must be wiped out.
"In terms of the positive goals, their desires were diametrically opposed. Some wanted Socialism, others considered that to be the root of all evil. Some supported Collectivism, others felt that it was difficult even to tone it down, since we were already up to our necks in it. Some wanted a centralist Germany, others a federal state. All of them were concerned about the education and upbringing of the young generation, but opinions diverged widely on even the most fundamental aspects, such as Christianity and the school... Beyond that, they were united only in their hatred of Hitler!"13

In his aforementioned contribution to the literature discussing July 20, Emil Henk states more succinctly: "On the whole, these followers of Goerdeler were a colourful bunch of misfits without any uniform program or set political idea. Basically they were all political loners with no tangible common factor. The only thing they all shared was their opposition to Hitler!"

I would like to complement these two 'self-portraits' with a downright classic statement about Hitler's opponents, made by Hans Richard Sprenger in issue 9/II of Nation Europa: "Ever since the outbreak of war, General Staff Officer Beck, without doubt a man highly qualified in his field, sat hunched over his battle plans and waited in cold hatred for his learned understanding of warfare to gain him just ascendancy over that outsider, Hitler - completely forgetting in the process that there had also once been an outsider named Cromwell. The theologist Bonhoeffer spent the war years praying to his dogmatically clear-cut God for the defeat of his people - which could result in nothing other than godlessness. Stauffenberg went to work - without having even the foggiest idea of what actually was to become of Germany after his success. The pious officer and jurist von Schlabrendorff dreamed up a 'state under the sway of a lawless regime' to justify his bomb - without, however, feeling obliged today to fight against the injustices of the victors. They were joined by all those strictly-Catholics, strictly-Protestants, strictly-unionists, strictly-scientists who were of little significance themselves but who had strategic intellectual influence, who saw their restful self-sufficiency threatened and thus may well have honestly believed that they would 'save everything' by helping to wreck it all.

"In 1924 these weakly pillars of the old ruling class made fun of that ridiculous splinter-party leader Hitler; in 1930 they regarded him as the welcome 'drummer boy' over whose back they themselves hoped to crawl to power; in 1933 they hid from him, or played up to him in the hopes that he would step back and defer modestly to them, the truly educated ones; they then proceeded to console themselves with definite and logically irrefutable expectations of his impending downfall; in 1934 they reluctantly praised him when he created the Wehrmacht out of next to nothing and placed them into coveted positions, and cursed him for not also giving up the political leadership he had fought for and won. This intellectualism 'saw it all coming': Hitler's quick failure, the rapid collapse of the 'hare-brained idea' of doing away with the injustice of Nuremberg, the inevitable crash - but what was to come then was the only thing they did not foresee. They did not contribute to the elimination of the problem of unemployment, to the integration of the worker into the national whole, to the rescue of the farmers as social class, to the cleansing of cultural life, or to the restoration of the German value system - they always stood outside in self-imposed exile, always in opposition, hoping day in, day out for the collapse of this structure even though it offered the leadership circles every conceivable opportunity. They did not see that the masses became the heartbeat of the nation, did not see how millions grew out of gloominess and self-forlornness into a cheerful and positive attitude to life, and to self-awareness; they did not feel how dried-up wellsprings began to flow again, and did not want to realize that a rush of true faith had taken hold of the German soul. What was happening did not fit into the formulae and dogmata whence this intellectualism drew its sustenance, and its ingenious mind-games had no room for anything new - so what could it be, but of the devil? - And so the carriers of this deviant intellectuality found each other in their uncomprehending disapproval and impotent hatred, formed their circles, fled from the active, doing world that grew up around them, and sought consolation in hoping for the return of bygone days, prayed to God to grant victory to Morgenthau and Stalin, to the dollar and the Marxist World Revolution, and sent out their emissaries to get themselves into the good books of the arch-enemies of their own people."

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8I much prefer the Americans' openness in stating that their new luxury liner, which was awarded the Blue Ribbon, could be converted to a troop transport ship at a moment's notice. ...back...

9According to T. R. Emessen (Dokumente aus Görings Schreibtisch), a letter written on April 18, 1938 by Herr von Hassel to Göring tells "which experiences prompted Hassel to join the opponents of the Nazi regime. This man was among the participants and casualties of the putsch of July 20, 1944. But his letter of April 18, 1938 brings us the bitter realization that it was disappointed ambition, not political conviction that alienated this man from National-Socialism. Hassel is not alone in this respect among the plotters of July 20." ...back...

10Readers who to date have seen only the distorted accounts of the Fritsch Crisis, including that of General Foertsch (2nd Publication of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte), are urged to study the interesting report that Admiral Boehm published on this topic in issue 4/II of Nation Europa, which vindicates not only the actions of the Generals in this matter, but Hitler's as well. ...back...

11The elimination of the SA. [-trans.] ...back...

12There are hardly any base and deceitful means which were not used to achieve such entrapment. The modus operandi included lies, slander and blackmail. For instance, a man who had learned of the treasonous activities of Herr Oster and Dr. Müller was prevented from informing his superiors by means of painting the gentlemen in question in glowing colors of patriotism and representing Hitler as a criminal because he had allegedly ordered the attack of German bomber planes on the city of Freiburg - which was not the case, but which, in light of Oster's position, did not fail to have the desired effect on the man in question. Or, as another example, persons in influential positions were sent seemingly harmless memos, which they ought to have passed on to their superiors because of the contents of these memos, but which they failed to do out of either ignorance or comradeship. This omission was then exploited in order to blackmail them into the ranks of the conspirators. ...back...

13This hatred is evident for all the leading members of the conspiracy, and can be traced right to its originating factor. It precluded any possibility of fair assessment, much less responsible decision-making. ...back...

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Worm in the Apple
German Traitors and Other Influences That Pushed the World Into War:
The little-known story of the men who destroyed Adolf Hitler's Germany