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Tamping down, spinning up

“The speed and completeness of the German victory in western Europe in 1940 resulted in the absence of any significant plans for resistance to occupation. Shocked by military defeat and cowed by the full weight of the Nazis’ well-honed forces of repression, opposition to German rule was initially unco-ordinated and small scale. Instead, large sections of the population sought to conform to the new status quo and endeavored to recreate a form of pre-war normality. In contrast, the Nazi parties of the newly conquered countries anticipated that the new conditions would enable them to seize power. But even trusted leaders such as Quisling in Norway and Mussert in Holland were allowed by the German occupiers to exercise only limited political control. Nevertheless, the rewards of outright collaboration proved too strong for many to resist, with hundreds of thousands volunteering to work for the occupying forces. Consciences were salved to a great extent by Germany’s attack upon the Soviet Union in 1941, and for those who enlisted in the Waffen-SS collaboration became less of a betrayal of nationalist ideals and was elevated to the level of a ‘crusade’ against Communism.” – “Resistance in Western Europe, 1940-1945,” The Times Atlas of the Second World War, ed. John Keegan

Published inJohn KeeganPolitics & LawThe Second World War

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