.mw-parser-output .hidden-begin{box-sizing:border-box;width:100%;padding:5px;border:none;font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .hidden-title{font-weight:bold;line-height:1.6;text-align:left}.mw-parser-output .hidden-content{text-align:left}You can help expand this article with text translated from the corresponding article in Finnish. (August 2018) Click [show] for important translation instructions. Machine translation, like DeepL or Google Translate, is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia. Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. You must provide copyright attribution in the edit summary accompanying your translation by providing an interlanguage link to the source of your translation. A model attribution edit summary is Content in this edit is translated from the existing Finnish Wikipedia article at [[:fi:Defaitismi]]; see its history for attribution. You should also add the template ((Translated|fi|Defaitismi)) to the talk page. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation.

Defeatism is the acceptance of defeat without struggle, often with negative connotations. It can be linked to pessimism in psychology, and may sometimes be used synonymously with fatalism or determinism.[1]


The term defeatism is commonly used in politics as a descriptor for an ideological stance that considers co-operation with the opposition party. In the military context, in wartime, and especially at the front, defeatism is synonymous with treason.[citation needed]

Under military law, a soldier can be accused of being defeatist if he refuses to fight by voicing doubt of the ideological validity of national policy; thus, existential questions such as "Is the war already lost?" and "Is the fight worth the effort?" are defeatism that connote advocacy of an alternative end-to-the war other than military victory.[citation needed]

"Defeatism" in Nazi Germany

Defeatism became a buzzword in Germany following its capitulation in 1918, particularly among the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler, who routinely blamed this loss on a "defeatist mentality".[2] After seizing power, his obsession with denouncing opponents for "defeatism" grew more acute as time went on, and was widely noted.

During World War II, Hitler unexpectedly dismissed many generals for defeatism. More prudent military commanders such as Field Marshal Albert Kesselring felt constrained to present the Führer a rosier account of the battlefront situation than was realistic, to avoid being labeled "defeatist".[3]

During the last year of war, the German people's court executed many people accused of defeatist talks or acts, and their names were announced weekly in a pink colored poster pasted on billboards around the country.[4] In March 1945, as Red Army tanks were closing in on Berlin, Nazi officials worked feverishly to suppress "cowardice and defeatism" in their own ranks with summary death sentences.[5]

Revolutionary defeatism

Revolutionary defeatism is a related idea, made most prominent by Vladimir Lenin, that establishes that the proletariat cannot win or gain in a capitalist war. Instead, according to Lenin, the true enemy of the proletariat is the imperialist leaders who send their lower classes into battle. Workers would gain more from their own nations’ defeats, he argued, if the war could be turned into civil war and then international revolution.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "defeatism". dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2014-03-13.[title missing]
  2. ^ Ian Kershaw (2001) Hitler 1936-1945 Vol. II p. 168
  3. ^ Kershaw 2001, p. 580: "[Hitler] was much influenced by the views of the Commander-in-Chief South, Field Marshal Kesselring, one of nature's optimists and, like most in high places in the Third Reich, compelled in any case to exude optimism, whatever his true sentiments and however bleak the situation was in reality. In dealings with Hitler — as with other top Nazi leaders whose mentality was attuned to his — it seldom paid to be a realist. Too easily, realism could be seen as defeatism. Hitler needed optimists to pander to him..."
  4. ^ H.W. Koch: In the Name of the Volk: Political Justice in Hitler's Germany. I.B. Tauris, 1997. ISBN 1860641741 pp. 228
  5. ^ Antony Beevor, 2003, The Fall of Berlin 1945, p. 131.
  6. ^ Appignanesi, Richard (1977) Lenin For Beginners, p. 118. Writers and Readers Cooperative, London. ISBN 0906386039.