Elimination of Political Opponents

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The potential for political resistance in the German Reich had been largely broken in the first months after the “seizure of power”, in the so-called phase of consolidation of power. SPD chairman Otto Wels’s speech, in which he enunciated the Social Democrats’ refusal to approve the “Enabling Act”, was the final act of opposition against the Nazi Regime in parliament.

Parties were banned or disbanded themselves. The establishment of new parties was forbidden. The unions were broken up. Representatives and party members, above all from the left-wing, fled into exile, were placed in detention, lived underground or went into “inner emigration”.

Chiefly Communist, Social Democratic and other left-wing groups actively combatted the Nazis in the regime’s early years. They were however very soon severely weakened by the Gestapo and SS. The disappearance of the Nazi’s opponents in prisons and concentration camps or their forced flight abroad hardly stirred any protest in the populace or even in the churches.

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