In September 1944, Allied troops crossed the border into the German Reich south of Aachen. The Red Army entered East Prussia a month later. Despite the Allies’ superior forces, the Nazi leadership called on the Germans to continue the war “to the last drop of blood.” Every town and village was to be defended with no consideration of the civilian population. Anyone who disobeyed orders, criticized the regime, or expressed doubt in the “final victory” risked their lives.
A few individuals did oppose the National Socialist decrees of destruction, however, and attempted to prevent the pointless defense of their home towns. The spectrum of resistance shortly before the end of the war ranged from spontaneous refusal to planned acts by political opponents of National Socialism, attempting to disempower local Nazi leaders.
Numerous people paid for their resistance against the “war to the last bullet” with their lives. Many of them were sentenced by court martial and publicly hanged as a deterrent. This frequently occurred only hours before the Allies arrived.