Power of Fear in Nazi Germany

Fear was arguably one of the most important ways that Hitler and the Nazi Regime kept control over the German people during their reign.  When most think of the Nazi’s control over Germany leading up to and during the Second World War they often think of the large rallies that were held in Germany to show off the Nazi power.  Alternately, many people think of the fear that caused families to go into hiding for fear for their lives.  In this paper the fear aspect of life in Nazi controlled Germany will be discussed. The children of the Nazi era were often totally loyal to the Nazi Party. These children believed fully in the party ideals and therefor would do anything asked of them by the party. In adults the willingness to turn others in for speaking against the party was brought about by a fear for one’s own freedom. Hitler and the Nazi government made Germany into an environment that any citizen to be arrested at any time because of what they do, say, or are associated with. 

Children that grew up under the German government were often total follower of Hitler and the Nazi Party, therefor would be more likely to side with the Nazi’s than their own family or neighbors.  These young devout Hitler followers added to the fear of the government because they did not keep any ideals of their own only the Nazi ideals.  The German government loosely required every citizen to be a part of the Nazi Party.  Membership required paying dues to the party as well as outward support of everything that Hitler and the Nazis did with respect to the government and the military.  If not a part of the Nazi Party a citizen would see no advancement in their professional or in any private life.  The German government took control over all parts of life.  Children were not exempt from this full Nazi control.  This included schools and children’s clubs.  The Nazis created the Hitler Youth to replace all the clubs that they removed during gleichschaltung.  With the intention of making sure that every citizen in the coming generations was fully engulfed in the Nazi ideology all children in Germany were required to be a part of the Hitler Youth.  Children that attend the Hitler Youth became some of the best supporters.  These children, who grew up surrounded with the ideology of the Nazis, were willing to do anything for the good of the Nazi government and therefor Hitler.  When the young Hitler Youth member of the Persicke family is dismissed by his father because of his plan to rob the Jewish woman in the building he decided that he will convince an old desperate man to do it for him.  When his plan falls apart and the group is caught he still thinks of the best way to show that he is loyal to the Nazi government. When the Judge offers the idea to turn in the robbers and possibly get rewarded by the Gestapo the young man decides the possible praise is better than the current reward. (Fallada 64-67) Many children during this time would rather be part of the party than part of their family. Engelmann recounts a time when during school a group of Hitler Youth students report their teacher who is suspended for removing the Nazi flag from the classroom. (Engelmann 38-40) This also shows that children are total Nazi followers willing to do anything that would help them rise in the Nazi Party. 

Living in the Nazi controlled Germany required thought to be put into everything that was said that might be overheard and turned in by anyone.  No one could be trusted when neighbor and even family members were willing to turn you in for speaking against the German government or the Fuhrer.  In the beginning of the Nazi gleichschaltung the people who were removed from society were those who were according to the Nazi government threats to the government and a better way of life.  When the government had its communist opponents removed from society the German people could justify this as these people were actively attempting to destroy the new government that promised to do so much for the people.  When enemies to society were transferred to conservation camps the German people, as any sympathetic person would, wondered the fate of these threats that were still German citizens.  The German government then used this national curiosity in two ways to keep control of the nation’s citizens.  To ease the fears and prevent national outrage the Nazi Government crafted a false narrative about the use of the camps.  The first part of this was reinforcing that the people sent to these camps truly deserved to go to these camps.  Newspaper headlines would often read “Enemy of the Volk Goes to Concentration Camp”.  The wording of this was very important to the narrative the government was building.  The headlines referring to the enemy as one to the Volk or people rather than the government caused these same people to fear the enemies not just for their government but for themselves.  To reduce fear for those enemies of the people that were sent to these camps other new headlines stated, “Concentration Camp Inmates Treated Well.” (Engelmann 40) The hope that these enemies could be taught the error of their communist or other non-fascist political views and then allowed to return to the people.  Although neither of these propaganda types worked on every person these constant reminders did work to constantly keep the consequence of speaking out in people’s minds.  With every person around willing to play Judas on everyone else, the possibility of going to one of these concentration camps themselves was a real possibility.  In Every Man Dies Alone, this is often brought up the possibility of being betrayed.  The first most prevalent instance of this is just after Otto and Anna are informed of their son’s death.  Otto while walking to work in a distraught state of mind he is bothered by a neighbor Emil Borkhausen.  After Otto vocalizes his discomfort and anger with the government he then calms himself for fear he says something that could get him in serious trouble.  As he walks away he thinks of the consequences that could come from what he had just said.  Otto thinks of the single call this little man could make to end his life as he knew it.  The price in this case for the life Otto Qurangel was a few packs of cigarettes.  If Emil had decided to trade a free life for cigarettes Qurangel would have been arrested and most likely sent to a concentration camp that would be nothing like the one described in the paper.  (Fallada 23) Using the fear of being sent to concentration camps, by anyone who did not value your life, the Nazi government was able to keep the citizens from speaking out against their rule in public and even in private.  

Under the Nazi government citizens being associated to a different political party was enough to be arrested and sent to the concentration camps.  This lead to a fear of who and what you were associated.  A law-abiding citizen that presented no reason to be arrested would fear being seen somewhere or with someone. Otto and Anna Qurangel were afraid of being seen around the places they dropped the cards that would easily get them convicted and sentenced to death. These consequences caused Otto to fear bring Anna along with him while he buys the cards and drop the finished cards.  (Fallada 137-141) When a post card is found in a doctor’s office everyone in the office is fearful of the outcome. The doctor himself has secrets that he wants to keep hidden. When the nurse finds the postcard, and brings it to the doctor he had no choice but to call the police. The doctor then must worry that the police may try to connect the card to him. Although there is nothing that could connect the doctor to the card there is still fear because the police could use this flimsy connection to arrest the doctor.  (Fallada178-180) This incredible fear of being even close to anyone who was an enemy of the German government caused every citizen to fear every conversation they had, every person they met and everything they encountered every day. 

The Nazi Government and Hitler used fear every day in many ways to keep control of the citizens. The police could use any connection even a card found in your office. The people around could at any time turn you in to the police, because of what you said, to be sent off to the consecration camps. Children of the Hitler era were so loyal that anything done in their presence could be the reason they report you to the police. The Nazi government created an environment that could cause anyone to be arrested at any time.