Adolf Hitler Implements the Nacht und Nebel Directive

Nacht und Nebel (German for "Night and Fog") was a directive (German: Erlass) of Adolf Hitler on 7 December 1941 signed and implemented by Armed Forces High Command Chief Wilhelm Keitel, resulting in kidnapping and forced disappearance of many political activists and resistance 'helpers' throughout Nazi Germany's occupied territories, principally in Western Europe. Anyone guilty of endangering the "security or state of readiness" of German forces and who was not to be summarily executed simply vanished into the "night and fog" of Germany. It was a specific punishment for opponents of the Nazis in occupied countries and intended to intimidate local populations into submission by denying families and friends of "les disparus" all knowledge of what had happened to them. To this day, it is not known how many people were seized as a result of this order.

In 1942, the Gestapo took things a step further via Hitler's Night and Fog Decree. Suspected anti-Nazis would now vanish without a trace into the misty night never to be seen again. The desired effect as stated by Himmler was to "leave the family and the population uncertain as to the fate of the offender." The victims were mostly from France, Belgium and Holland. They were usually arrested in the middle of the night and whisked off to far away prisons for torture-interrogation, eventually arriving at a concentration camp in Germany if they survived.

From the very beginning of Hitler's regime, the ever-present threat of arrest and indefinite confinement in a concentration camp robbed the German people of their personal freedom and left them as inhibited, dutifully obedient subjects.

But even this was not enough. The Nazis wanted to change people's thinking. And so, just as they had purged their hated political enemies, they began a campaign to purge hated "unGerman" ideas. That effort started in May 1933 with the worst of all crimes against human thought and culture - the burning of books.