Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistance

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CJK1990
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Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistance

Postby CJK1990 » 21 Feb 2011 00:16

I've always been puzzled as to why there was no German resistance movement after the war. Based on everything I've read, the Nazis were relatively popular and the vast majority of Germans supported the war effort. Furthermore, Allied occupation policy in the first two years was harsh, with low food rations, a massive refugee crisis, and little hope of economic recovery from devastation.

True, people were sick of the fighting and the resistance might not have been that effective. But that hasn't stopped lots of other resistance movements past or present.

My theory is that Germany took so many casualties in the war that there just weren't that many people left to resist. Resistance movements are usually composed of strongly motivated young men who are physically fit. By mid-1945, a huge portion of ideologically motivated physically fit young men were either dead or disabled. As a result, a resistance movement couldn't get off the ground.

In many ways it seems like the allies just paid the price of resistance upfront rather than after the war. The Germans killed more American soldiers and airmen in April 1945 alone (9,273) than insurgents have killed in nearly eight years of Iraq and Afghanistan combined (less than 6,000, including noncombat deaths).

Does anyone have an alternative theory?

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby phylo_roadking » 21 Feb 2011 01:21

1/ there actually WAS a degree (ever diminishing) of resistance "Werwolf" activity - see Perry Biddiscombe's book on the subject.

2/ For effective resistance, you need as many of the following as you can get;

Outside supply of arms and munitions...AND food! this latter was vitally important in 1945-46 Germany;

Outside supply of funding;

A networking/liaison function able to travel and organise freely

A hope of actually accomplishing something;


So...what WAS there to accomplish after the death of Adolf Hitler, and his lieutenants at Nuremberg? What outside sources of funding, organisation,and resupply WAS there for the remnants of the Third Reich? 8O

It could be argued that the food shortages in the civilian population of Germany in 1945 and 1946 greatly hindered the organisation of an effective resistance; when the requirements for any form or armed resistance were still "laying about"....the population was simply TOO BUSY trying to keep life and limb together, or in the case of Third Reich military who hadn't been incarcerated, simply keeping one step ahead of the Occupying Powers OR trying to escape Europe altogether OR trying to hide peacfully in Germany (see "trying to keep life and limb together")

Yes, there was an embryonic Werwolf organisation, hidden weapons caches, and a degree of limited armed resistance...but it never amounted to very much when reckoned across the whole of WESTERN Germany...

And there was a longer-lasting armed resistance in the East, in the Soviet Zone of Occupation; but these holdouts in Germany....and Poland and in a number of countries...that the Western Allies tried to support with great difficulty and not very much real help faded away within a few years. For there comes a time in the life of all hold-out resistance groups, the ones with no outside help, that they spend an ever-increasing amount of time and energy simply staying alive, so much so that they can't actually DO much resisting....

....and thus just end up scavengers/bandits.
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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby Panzermahn » 21 Feb 2011 01:32

No postwar German resistance is actually a myth. Professor Biddiscombe has done several excellent studies regarding post-war German resistance, namely in his three books;

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You be surprised that some of the SD radio stations were operational until the autumn of 1945 and these were actually taken over operationally by the Allied intelligence services such as the American OSS while the American CIC were looking for them! (in fact, the SD foreign intelligence as the Abwehr intelligence officers such as Schellenberg and Gehlen had the foresight to know that Germany had lost the war by 1944 and begin to orientate towards preserving their network contacts and handling them to the Allies in order to continue the struggle against the Soviets after Germany's surrender)

Indirect resistance such railway gauge sabotage, wire-cutting, damaging manufacturing equipment were also conducted by some Germans particular in the Soviet sector but as usual, the Soviet response is to unleash fire and steel against those who were caught. German stragglers and deserters still hiding out in the East, continued to take pot-shots and conducted small scale ambushes against the Red Army and it is reported that it continued until 1946 especially at the forests of East Prussia.

Such incidents were hardly reported in the mainstream press due to Allied strategy go not giving any major coverage to postwar German resistance action but a lot of after-action and intelligence reports (that were classified at that time) by the Allied units (which is true for the western Allies as their archives relating to German postwar resistance has been declassified, however the files of the NKVD/KGB are still restricted until today) shows that the German resistance was a reality

In fact, Konrad Adenauer's West German government continued to tried to circumvent the social/economic/military restrictions imposed upon it by the Allied Control Council and this could be seen as a type of resistance even until the end of 1950s.

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby Peter H » 21 Feb 2011 06:03

What was the Allied death toll from these pinpricks though?

I would suggest that enough Germans,after seeing the news reports of the death camps as well,were sickened,embarrassed in having even supported the Nazi regime,undoing any nationalistic resistance tendencies.Resistance also requires a spirit of perceived injustice to be formented.

I don't know why Iraq is held up as a model of a full scale insurgency,at the peak of the Vietnam war the US was losing a thousand killed a month.

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby CJK1990 » 21 Feb 2011 14:46

phylo_roadking wrote:1/ there actually WAS a degree (ever diminishing) of resistance "Werwolf" activity - see Perry Biddiscombe's book on the subject.

2/ For effective resistance, you need as many of the following as you can get;

Outside supply of arms and munitions...AND food! this latter was vitally important in 1945-46 Germany;

Outside supply of funding;


Is that really true? There are plenty of resistance movements that haven't been primarily powered by outside funding, like Iraq. And I'm sure there was plenty of ammunition lying around when Germany was defeated.

So...what WAS there to accomplish after the death of Adolf Hitler, and his lieutenants at Nuremberg? What outside sources of funding, organisation,and resupply WAS there for the remnants of the Third Reich? 8O


The goal would have been to keep resisting until the allies get tired and leave. That's like saying "what was there to accomplish after the capture of Saddam Hussein?"

It could be argued that the food shortages in the civilian population of Germany in 1945 and 1946 greatly hindered the organisation of an effective resistance; when the requirements for any form or armed resistance were still "laying about"....the population was simply TOO BUSY trying to keep life and limb together, or in the case of Third Reich military who hadn't been incarcerated, simply keeping one step ahead of the Occupying Powers OR trying to escape Europe altogether OR trying to hide peacfully in Germany (see "trying to keep life and limb together")


So does that mean that the Iraq insurgency wouldn't have happened if the U.S. restricted the food supply?

And there was a longer-lasting armed resistance in the East, in the Soviet Zone of Occupation; but these holdouts in Germany....and Poland and in a number of countries...that the Western Allies tried to support with great difficulty and not very much real help faded away within a few years. For there comes a time in the life of all hold-out resistance groups, the ones with no outside help, that they spend an ever-increasing amount of time and energy simply staying alive, so much so that they can't actually DO much resisting....


How many people did they kill?

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby CJK1990 » 21 Feb 2011 14:51

Peter H wrote:I would suggest that enough Germans,after seeing the news reports of the death camps as well,were sickened,embarrassed in having even supported the Nazi regime,undoing any nationalistic resistance tendencies.Resistance also requires a spirit of perceived injustice to be formented.


Based on what I've read, Germans were apathetic to the death camps and believed they were being treated unjustly by the allies. Contemporary news reports noted that Germans felt no guilt over the war.

I don't know why Iraq is held up as a model of a full scale insurgency,at the peak of the Vietnam war the US was losing a thousand killed a month.


Because the resistance would have been more like Iraq than South Vietnam, because the Viet Cong had the support of North Vietnam which was supplies by the USSR and China. Plus, Vietnam is has lots of jungle cover.

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby Rob - wssob2 » 21 Feb 2011 15:35

I've always been puzzled as to why there was no German resistance movement after the war.


I think we've ascertained that there was a small, ineffectual movement of Nazi dead-enders.

Based on everything I've read, the Nazis were relatively popular and the vast majority of Germans supported the war effort.


Popular in 1939; not so popular in 1945.

Why would you support a regime of policies so horrible that had so decisively been destroyed?

Furthermore, Allied occupation policy in the first two years was harsh


This is a gross generalization. You're lumping together the occupation policies and administered territories of four different occupying nations. For example, in some respects, the US occupation was a piece of cake compared to the USSR sector, but in other respects, the reverse was true. Read Constantine Fitzgibbon's Denazification to learn more.

and little hope of economic recovery from devastation


Umm - what about the Marshall Plan?

Resistance movements are usually composed of strongly motivated young men who are physically fit.


Not necessarily.

The Germans killed more American soldiers and airmen in April 1945 alone (9,273) than insurgents have killed in nearly eight years of Iraq and Afghanistan combined


But you're comparing oranges to elephants.

Such incidents were hardly reported in the mainstream press due to Allied strategy go not giving any major coverage to postwar German resistance action but a lot of after-action and intelligence reports


Such incidents didn't get press coverage because they were so trivial. More important was the fact that 14,000+ German women had married American servicemen by 1950. (see http://www.americainwwii.com/stories/warbrides.html)

In fact, Konrad Adenauer's West German government continued to tried to circumvent the social/economic/military restrictions imposed upon it by the Allied Control Council and this could be seen as a type of resistance even until the end of 1950s.


I would disagree. It may be a form of independence, but not Nazi-inspired resistance.

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby phylo_roadking » 21 Feb 2011 18:12

1/ there actually WAS a degree (ever diminishing) of resistance "Werwolf" activity - see Perry Biddiscombe's book on the subject.

2/ For effective resistance, you need as many of the following as you can get;

Outside supply of arms and munitions...AND food! this latter was vitally important in 1945-46 Germany;

Outside supply of funding;



Is that really true? There are plenty of resistance movements that haven't been primarily powered by outside funding, like Iraq. And I'm sure there was plenty of ammunition lying around when Germany was defeated.


While a lot of IEDS can and have been made by steaming the filler out of old artillery rounds etc....I seem to remember tales of a LOT of the other materiel in insurgents' hands having come over the border from Iran... :wink:

By funding I mean enough to survive on, to NOT have to hide in the community and raise a living wage yourself; why cell-structured terrorist groups in Western countries also get invovled in all sorts of organised crime - so they can have a living wage WITHOUT having to be "on the radar" of drawing state benefits etc. That's how PIRA did it.

In Postwar Germany, with the Allies maintaining the ration system for some time due to the food shortages, it would have been VERY hard for a large Maquis-like underground army to survive in the bush, so to speak. They would have starved in short order....OR left such a trail of brigandage as to be very traceable.

So...what WAS there to accomplish after the death of Adolf Hitler, and his lieutenants at Nuremberg? What outside sources of funding, organisation,and resupply WAS there for the remnants of the Third Reich?


The goal would have been to keep resisting until the allies get tired and leave.


What's the use of that??? The Western Allies were always intending to render Germany a non-threat and leave anyway at some point 8O What an active resistance would have done was prolong that period of occupation!

Because the resistance would have been more like Iraq than South Vietnam, because the Viet Cong had the support of North Vietnam which was supplies by the USSR and China. Plus, Vietnam is has lots of jungle cover.


The Black Forest? The Huertgenwald? The Bavarian Alps? Germany had and still has plenty of cover for an insurgency.
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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby CJK1990 » 21 Feb 2011 19:48

Rob - wssob2 wrote:Why would you support a regime of policies so horrible that had so decisively been destroyed?


Most Germans thought the Allies were responsible for the war. To the extent they opposed the Nazis it was because they had failed to defeat the Allies.

Umm - what about the Marshall Plan?


That wasn't announced until June 1947.
Not necessarily.


THat's why I said "usually".

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby phylo_roadking » 21 Feb 2011 19:51

Most Germans thought the Allies were responsible for the war.


Have you a source for this?
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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby Peter H » 21 Feb 2011 22:24

An excellent study on insurgency warfare is David Kilcullen's The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One .

He notes that even in Iraq external funding was crucial---from Iran for the Shia,from Syria/Jordan for the Sunni.Guerillas need to be paid like anyone else.Another requirement for a successful insurgency seems to be fluid borders,allowing safe havens to be established for training,resupply and rest.

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby CJK1990 » 21 Feb 2011 23:02

Yes, there has been some funding from Syria and Iran but the main sources were the huge weapon caches Saddam left around in case he wanted to crush the Shia.

Phylo, couldn't they just have smuggled the food or try to live off the land? And if there is a certain "food requirement" for insurgencies does that mean the Iraq insurgency could have been prevented if only the food supply was restricted? I mean, that's a first...

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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby phylo_roadking » 21 Feb 2011 23:45

Phylo, couldn't they just have smuggled the food or try to live off the land?


Smuggle it from where? EVERYWHERE in Europe was in the same state, Holland etc. were equally as hungry!

And...live off the land how??? People who do that are called farmers, they don't tend to have much time to do anything else at many times of the year - especially not be guerillas.

How many Wehrmacht soldiers living in ditches or under rocks were going to BE farmers, even know how to start? 8O Talking of rocks - mountainsides and deep forests don't tend to be good for raising crops...

The only other way left to them to "live off the land" is ...take what they need from others I.E. from their own people who were ALREADY going hungry 8O That's guaranteed to make them as popular as a fart in a submarine....and create nothing apart from hundreds of informers :wink: It also takes time to forage like that - time that they can't spare out of hiding, and actions that allow counterinsurgency forces to build up a picture of your movements.

And if there is a certain "food requirement" for insurgencies does that mean the Iraq insurgency could have been prevented if only the food supply was restricted? I mean, that's a first...


Is is really? :wink: :P Carting the Boer civilians off to camps to keep them from supplying food and shelter to the Boer Commandos fifty years before?....moving the rural population in Malaya into protected zones so they can't supply/support/shelter the communist guerillas during the Emergency?....shifting the rural population of Kenya into camps, rationing food and medical care so they can't support the Mau-Mau?....
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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby phylo_roadking » 22 Feb 2011 02:18

....and of course - in country where they CAN forage and live off the land as described above...there isn't usually a high concentration of targets for military action against the Occupiers! 8O
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Re: Theories as to why there was no postwar German resistanc

Postby Peter H » 22 Feb 2011 04:20

German military tradition also downgraded irregular warfare and viewed such participants with contempt.Its hard to adjust from an honoured regular service tradition built over generations to what some regarded as thuggery.

Insurgencies also work better with peasant societes.Poor Third World type road infastructure and adequate large isolated wilderness areas are also mandatory as safe havens,base areas.


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