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Focus question 3: Which people resisted the Nazis?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1 Simulation: 'Resistance' ESL Activity 1

Activity 1: Simulation - 'Resistance'

Could people oppose the new system?

Look at this simulation of situations in which opposition might have been an option, and decide what you might have done in the circumstances.

1a Imagine that it is 1933. You live in Munich. You will face a number of choices. How well you survive depends on your decisions. You start with a 'bank' of 15 points. Your decisions will maintain or lose your points.

Copy the table below into your workbook. Adjust your 'score' as you go. Your aim is to maintain your 'funds' as much as possible - and if you lose 10 or more, you are dead.

In small groups discuss the options available fully before committing yourself to a decision. Then record your decision. At the end of each situation your teacher will read out the consequences.

Good luck!

Democratic protest record sheet

Situation Option chosen Consequences Points scored
(Begin with 15)

Resistance decisions

Situation 1

You are a school student, invited and expected to join the Hitler Youth. You prefer another youth organisation, which is open-minded, liberal, and free of propaganda. It is also illegal. What do you do?

  1. Join the Hitler Youth.
  2. Join the illegal group.
  3. Join both and try and balance your time between them?
  4. Join neither.

Situation 2

You are a good and patriotic German. You love your country, but you are becoming very critical of some of the things happening in your society. Certain books are banned. You have books by several of the banned authors, and really enjoy them. They help you to see what is going on, and to be critical of things. You do not think this makes you any less of a patriotic German. What do you do?

  1. Throw your copies on the pile to be burnt.
  2. Keep them at home openly on the shelves.
  3. Hide them.
  4. Destroy them yourself at home.

Situation 3

You are very upset about what is happening generally in your country. You want to discuss this with others, just to make your feelings known. But you are aware that there are many informers around who will report any criticism to the police. What do you do?

  1. Speak openly about your criticisms.
  2. Speak only to those friends you know you can trust.
  3. Keep your criticisms to yourself but keep worrying about the situation.
  4. Just accept the situation and go on with life as normal.

Situation 4

Some friends who feel the same way about the Nazis invite you to join them in writing, printing and distributing Resistance, a secret newsletter which is very critical of the abuses of the Nazi Government, to fellow students. You believe that if people are exposed to the truth, they will eventually help overthrow the corrupt Nazi system. You know that if you are caught you will be at least imprisoned, and probably executed. What do you do?

  1. Do not become involved.
  2. Help them, but only indirectly, so that if they are caught you will not be implicated with them.
  3. Help with distributing the newsletter, but not with writing or printing it.
  4. Help in every way possible.

Situation 5

The newsletter is having an effect. At one Nazi meeting fellow students even throw the local Nazi leader out of the hall! This makes the Nazis more determined than ever to suppress Resistance. You have to decide whether you will continue, or stop your activities. What do you do?

  1. Stop your association with the newsletter. You have done your bit. Let others take over for a while.
  2. Continue to be active with Resistance.

Situation 6

You are a teacher. The Nazis introduce new compulsory textbooks. You know that these books are full of Nazi propaganda. Your response is:

  1. Use the old textbooks and ignore the new ones.
  2. Take the new ones but rarely use them.
  3. Use the new books all the time but mock them.
  4. Use the new books as required.

Situation 7

You are a judge and a person accused by the secret police of anti-Nazi activities is brought before you. You do not believe there is sufficient evidence to convict him. What do you do?

  1. Find him guilty, knowing that this is expected, but give him a light sentence.
  2. Find him guilty and give a severe sentence, knowing that if you don't he will be worse off and sent to a concentration camp rather than a prison.
  3. Find him innocent.

1b Work out how many points you have left. If you have five or more you have survived. If you have less than five, you are in trouble.

1c What sorts of choices did you have to make to survive?

Parts of this exercise are based on the story of a movement that began in 1942, after Germany had gone to war. Hans and Sophie Scholl, brother and sister, were at university. They both became anti-Nazi when they saw how their society was changing. They joined an illegal Youth Group, and read banned works that promoted democratic ideas. They helped to produce several editions of The White Rose and distribute it among fellow students. They were caught, however, interrogated, tried and executed by guillotine two hours after being found guilty. Sophie was 21, Hans 24. Both were buried in a Munich cemetery. In the town, graffiti appeared on walls saying : 'Their spirit lives'.

1d What made it difficult for people to resist?

1e What qualities did people who resisted the Nazis, such as Sophie and Hans Scholl, have?

1f Sophie and Hans were heroes. What could an ordinary non-heroic person do to oppose an immoral system?

ESL activities

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