Sunday, July 20, 2014

Remembering The Plot To Kill Hitler

  1. The year 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the 1944 Hitler assassination plot centered around Colonel Claus Schenk von Graf Stauffenberg and including military and civilian conspirators.
  2. This day is a symbol of résistance and the will to end tyranny and totalitarianism.
  3. On 20 July 1944, the German resistance movement with principal figures that include Ludwig Beck (Former general); Wilhelm Canaris (Head of Military Intelligence); Hans Oster (Deputy Head of Military Intelligence); Helmuth von Moltke (Legal advisor to Canaris); Heinrich von Stülpnagel (Military governor of France); Carl Gördeler (Price Control Commissioner); Friedrich Olbricht (Colonel-General); Henning von Tresckow (Major-General); and Claus von Stauffenberg (Colonel; Chief of Staff Army Reserve) tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler and tragically failed at the attempt.
  4. The night after the failed assassination, Stauffenberg, Olbricht and two other co-conspirators were executed by firing squad in the courtyard of the military headquarters, known as the Bendler Block, in Berlin and in the following weeks and months, the Gestapo rounded up some 7,000 people associated or suspected in the resistance and killed them.
  5. According to records of the Führer Conferences on Naval Affairs, 4,980 of these were executed.
  6. Today, the Bendler Block complex remains the home of Germany’s defense ministry and also houses the German Resistance Memorial Center wherein military and government leaders hold an annual commemoration of the July 20 plot in the courtyard of the Bendler Block and at the Plötzensee Memorial Center and it has also become tradition that new soldiers of the Bundeswehr are sworn in on this day every year in a ceremony with high-ranking guest speakers in Berlin.
  7. Operation Valkyrie (Unternehmen Walküre) was a German World War II emergency continuity of government operations plan issued to the Territorial Reserve Army of Germany which was approved by Hitler to execute and implement in case of a failure of the government to maintain control of civil affairs which could be caused by the Allied bombing of German cities, or a rising of the millions of foreign forced laborers working in German factories.
  8. German Army (Heer) officers General Friedrich Olbricht, Major General Henning von Tresckow, and Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg modified Operation Valkyrie with the intention of using it to take control of German cities, disarm the SS, and arrest the Nazi leadership once Hitler had been assassinated in the July 20 Plot because Hitler's death (as opposed to his arrest) was required to free German soldiers from their oath of loyalty to him (Reichswehreid).
  9. Peter Hoffman's 1970 book on the topic, The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945, is the most authoritative detailed work on the subject.
  10. The July Bomb Plot was not the first attempt to kill Hitler, but it was the one that came the closest to success and the other attempts include Baron Henning von Tresckow, a staff officer, who had sent two brandy bottles disguised as bombs to a friend at Rastenburg - Major-General Helmuth Stieff. Stieff was a staff officer of the Army High Command at Rastenburg. He would have had the ability to put the bombs anywhere. The bomb failed to go off and Tresckow had to spend time retrieving them. Colonel von Gersdorff, a young officer in Tresckow's circle offered himself as a suicide bomber when Hitler was to open a museum in Berlin. This failed as Hitler could not make up his mind whether to open the new museum or not. In November 1943, Axel von dem Bussche, a young army officer, offered to blow himself up while modeling a new military great coat in front of Hitler. This only failed because Hitler, once again, cancelled the meeting.
  11. On 30 April 1945, shortly before Germany surrendered to the Allies, Hitler committed suicide and the Wolf’s Lair compound, where the Nazi leader spent more than 800 days between 1941 and 1944, was blown up by the Soviet army in January 1945.
  12. Ewald von Kleist died on 8 March 2013 at the age of 90 and he was the last surviving conspirator against Adolf Hitler.

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