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Enemies of the People
Hitler's Critics and the Gestapo

  • Date Published: January 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108832601


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About the Authors
  • How do terror and popularity merge under a dictatorship? How did the Gestapo deal with critics of Nazism? Based on hundreds of secret police case files, Enemies of the People explores the day-to-day reality of political policing under Hitler. Examining the Gestapo's policy of 'selective enforcement', J. Ryan Stackhouse challenges the abiding perception of the Gestapo as policing exclusively through terror. Instead, he reveals the complex system of enforcement that defined the relationship between state and society in the Third Reich and helps to explain the Germans' abiding support for Hitler and their complicity in the regime's crimes. Stories of everyday life in Nazi Germany paint the clearest picture yet of just how differently the Gestapo handled certain groups and actions, and the routine investigation, interrogation, and enforcement practices behind this system. Enemies of the People offers penetrating insights into just how reasonable selective enforcement appeared to Germans, and draws unavoidable parallels with the contemporary threat of authoritarianism.

    • Offers the first systematic account of the Gestapo's routine investigation, interrogation, surveillance, and enforcement practices, and how these changed over time
    • Counters myths that persecution was random and average Germans obeyed Hitler out of fear
    • Explains how 'selective enforcement' by the Gestapo was able to create a degree of German support for Hitler and his regime
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Memorable and chilling. Stackhouse's eminently readable book offers fresh insights into political policing in Nazi Germany and helps us to better understand how the Gestapo's rule of terror worked.' Robert Gerwarth, University College Dublin

    'An eye-opening book about the tyranny of law, this archive-based account of violent policing in Nazi Germany adds considerably to our understanding of the Gestapo. Drawing on thousands of case files from a key government district, Stackhouse has written a regional history of 'selective enforcement.' Chock-a-block with fascinating detail, Enemies of the People illuminates brightly the local-and legal-origins of dictatorship.' Jens Meierhenrich, London School of Economics and Political Science

    'Stackhouse's focus on the Gestapo's 'selective enforcement' broadens our understanding of policing the Volksgemeinschaft and of the Nazi state. His impressive book also has much to say about visions of an 'authoritarian rule of law' in general and should be required reading.' Katrin Paehler, Illinois State University

    'This shows us how the Gestapo ruthlessly targeted political and 'racial' opponents but proceeded cautiously, even routinely, against reliable members of the 'people's community' accused of a crime-thereby ensuring broad support for Nazism while gradually hollowing out the rule of law. This unsettling study is a major achievement!' Dennis Sweeney, University of Alberta

    'Stackhouse's fascinating book demonstrates how frighteningly quickly the Nazis managed to exert control over a region in which the majority of people had not voted for them. The central insight is how easy it is for authoritarian rulers to set up sustainable regimes.' Thomas Weber, University of Aberdeen

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2022
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108832601
    • length: 330 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. National and Regional Foundations, 1933-1945
    2. Criminalizing Conversation, 1933-1934
    3. Defining Opposition, 1935-1939
    4. Discovering Offences, 1935-1943
    5. Confirming Culpability, 1935-1943
    6. Cooperation and Ascendancy, 1935-1939
    7. Principles of Internal Security, 1939-1942
    8. Enforcing People's Community, 1939-1942
    9. Total War Policing, 1943-1944
    10. Involving the Party, 1943-1944
    11. Death Throes.

  • Author

    J. Ryan Stackhouse
    J. Ryan Stackhouse is an historian of modern Europe and Nazism. His PhD from Florida State University, as a Walbolt Fellow, was honoured with Distinction. He hosts The Third Reich History Podcast and interviews experts about the many faces of authoritarianism on the New Books Network.

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