The best books on the German Resistance during WWII – what schoolbooks don’t tell you

Michela Cocolin Author Of Hitler's Lost State: The Fall of Prussia and the Wilhelm Gustloff Tragedy
By Michela Cocolin

The Books I Picked & Why

The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945

By Peter Hoffmann

Book cover of The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945

Why this book?

During my research for my book, I was fortunate to get in touch with Claus von Stauffenberg’s grandson Philipp von Schultess, who recommended the Peter Hoffmann book. 

It is a very detailed, comprehensive book on a topic that is too often omitted from schoolbooks and history books alike, the over 700,000 German civilians, politicians, clergy, military, and paramilitary who lost their lives trying to overturn the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. The Hoffmann was a starting point to the discovery of several other books about the German Resistance and a visit to the German Resistance Memorial and Museum in Berlin, where von Stauffenberg and other co-conspirators were executed.


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The Good Germans: Resisting the Nazis, 1933-1945

By Catrine Clay

Book cover of The Good Germans: Resisting the Nazis, 1933-1945

Why this book?

This is a more recent book. It was published in 2020, the same year as mine, so I couldn’t use it as part of my bibliography. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed reading it, it offers invaluable personal accounts by ordinary Germans as well as aristocratic Prussians who shared an utter contempt for Hitler’s propaganda and showed an astonishing courage in the face of the overwhelming brutality of the Nazi regime, resisting it and staying true to their values.


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Germans Against Hitler - July 20, 1944

By Hans-Adolf Jacobsen Royce, Hans Zimmermann, Erich Zimmermann

Book cover of Germans Against Hitler - July 20, 1944

Why this book?

Given all the films and books available about the 20th  of July 1944 attempted assassination of Hitler and coup, I find this book the most fascinating one, as it contains a meticulous collection of the most striking reports of investigations on the Reich from juridical, theological and military standpoints. It is an invaluable read to fully understand the German Resistance, its motives, and its historical significance.


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Stauffenberg: A Family History, 1905-1944

By Peter Hoffmann

Book cover of Stauffenberg: A Family History, 1905-1944

Why this book?

When one mentions German Resistance, the name Claus Maria Schenk von Stauffenberg springs to mind for all the right reasons. Whereas the other Peter Hoffmann book on my list looks at the German Resistance as a whole, this more intimate account of Claus von Stauffenberg’s background and aristocratic upbringing focuses on his biography, particularly his close relationship with his brothers Berthold and Alexander, their formative years, their association with the circle of the poet Stefan George and their political, military and professional development, which led them to take leading positions against Hitler’s tyranny.


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Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

By Annette Dumbach, Jud Newborn

Book cover of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

Why this book?

Sophie and Hans Scholl are often remembered as the siblings who “would not keep silent” against the Nazis until their arrest, flash trial, and execution by guillotine on February 22, 1943. What Sophie and Hans started was much more than a local students’ movement; The White Rose involved students, academics, clergy, and civilians in Munich and around other parts of Germany. The book captures and reflects upon the many dimensions of the activities of those involved, it contains all the 6 original leaflets published by the White Rose as well as indexes of the trial and sentences of its members.


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