University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Center for Holocaust Studies

Monday, September 15, 2004 at 7:00 PM Waterman Memorial Lounge (Room 338)

The German Resistance to Hitler and the Persecution of the Jews

Peter Hoffmann
Peter Hoffman


Peter Hoffmann, McGill University

German Resistance leaders were motivated, in varying degrees of intensity, by all that was wrong with the regime and with the war, the general brutality, contempt for the rule of law, arbitrary arrests, secret courts, abolition of civil liberties, murder of political dissidents, mistreatment of civilians in occupied territories, and mass starvation of Soviet-Russian prisoners of war. Resistance leaders saw the persecution of the Jews as a crime of a different order. A significant number of the anti-Hitler conspirators are on record as having stated, when interrogated by the Gestapo before their execution, that their ultimate motive, from the beginning of the war in 1939, was the violent persecution and mass murder of the European Jews. An important example of this was Carl Goerdeler, before 1936 the mayor of Leipzig and a cabinet-level official, who engaged in active opposition against the persecution of the Jews from 1933 on. He was hanged for “treason” on 2 February 1945.

Peter Hoffmann is William Kingsford Professor of History at McGill University, Montreal. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal of the State of Baden-Württemberg (Germany), the Officer´s Cross of the Order of Merit (Germany), and the Konrad Adenauer Research Award. He is the author of books on the German Resistance including The History of the German Resistance 1933–1945 (1977);  Hitler´s Personal Security (1979); German Resistance to Hitler (1988); Stauffenberg. A Family History, 1905-1944 (1995); Carl Goerdeler and the Jewish Question, 1933-1942 (2011); Behind Valkyrie. German Resistance to Hitler. Documents (2011); and Carl Goerdeler gegen die Verfolgung der Juden (2013).