The Monarchist Plot to Kill Hitler
by William Kennedy
On 20 July 1944 at 12:42 p.m. a time bomb exploded and ripped through the War Office at Wolf's Lair - the East Prussian Headquarters of the Third Reich. The primary target of this drastic assault was German Chancellor and Führer Adolf Hitler. Although injured in the attack Hitler would survive this harsh assassination attempt.
As the heat from the blast emanated from the structure it caressed the face of a young German colonel who stood about 50 yards from the flame engulfed building. Although this officer bore the marks of war wounds that included an eye patch and missing hand he still possessed an aristocratic and noble bearing in his tailored officer's tunic. Believing that no one could have survived such a powerful explosion the colonel muttered to himself that 'the beast is dead'. This regal looking colonel was Count Claus von Stauffenberg and as the small building he had just bombed with a timed explosive hidden in a brief case began to smolder in flames, he hurried to a waiting staff car. His driver and co conspirator sped to a nearby airfield where a plane waited to fly von Stauffenberg to Berlin where his destiny beckoned.
Thus began the famous July Plot to kill Adolf Hitler and overthrow the Third Reich. History was been very kind to the conspirators who attempted this daring coup d'état. They are heralded as heroes and as allies in the war against Hitler. The primary architect of this conspiracy was Claus von Stauffenberg and he especially is honored as a valiant soldier who sought to destroy the despotic figure of Adolf Hitler. In major cities throughout Europe, the United States and even Israel streets and parks have been named after Stauffenberg in honor of his bold effort to annihilate the Nazi Hierarchy.
Now that over fifty years has passed since the July Plot was hatched a fresh examination of the motivations and ultimate aspirations of the primary conspirator is necessary to understand the true reasons for this audacious attempt to seize power. Some of the conclusions drawn from this re-evaluation may not fit the 'official' historical interpretation of the events surrounding the July Plot. Some may even be offended by the conclusions proffered.
The primary thesis of this examination contends that the July Plot was not in any way, shape or form an attempt to restore democracy to the German people as it is often portrayed. Neither was it a concerted effort to stop the horrors of the Holocaust and to save the various Jews, Gypsies, Gays and political dissidents who so greatly suffered in the concentration camps. Nor was it an attempt to bring freedom to the many occupied countries that endured German control on a daily basis.
The July Plot was an attempt to restore monarchy to Germany and to continue the domination of Europe by the German people. In order to explain this hypothesis it will be necessary to examine the background of the principal conspirator Count Claus von Stauffenberg. What motivated von Stauffenberg to plant a bomb as a means to kill Hitler on that hot July day is far more complex than historians have acknowledged. It involves his own family history, the mentors of his youth and his opinions concerning the social class and standing of the leaders of the Third Reich. It is a lot to unravel and it would be best to begin with Stauffenberg's family history.
Claus Philipp von Stauffenberg was born on 15 November 1907 to Alfred and Koraline Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg in Swabia Germany. His father could trace his ancestry back to medieval times. It is believed that the Stauffenbergs emerged from the House of Staufen who ruled Germany as Holy Roman Emperors form the early 800rds until 1273 AD when the Habsburg Dynasty took the imperial crown. The Stauffenbergs were most likely Staufen princes who became warriors as a means to defend the German Empire'.
The first traceable ancestor of the von Stauffenbergs is one Werner Schenk von Zollern who is mentioned in a legal document written in 1257. Schenk means 'cup bearer' or steward in Old German and this title suggests that the Werner in question was a courtier. A script dated in 1317 mentions the name Stauffenberg for the first time. The signature of Hannes Schenk von Stauffenberg appears on this document and it is from this figure that Claus von Stauffenberg could trace his direct lineage.
The von Stauffenbergs held the title 'Free Knights of the Empire' meaning that they answered only to the Emperor in matters of law and personal honor. This imperial designation was of equal status to that of a baron. The difference being that a baron was bound to a particular region while a Free Knight was allowed to roam unreservedly throughout the Empire. This family produced a number of notable military figures.
Three von Stauffenbergs were listed as members of the Teutonic Knights and two others were known to be members of the Knights of Saint John - one of them becoming a leader of this illustrious order.
Another von Stauffenberg served with the Habsburg Emperor Charles V when he defeated the King of France in 1519 and then continued on with the Holy Roman Emperor when he seized Vatican City and held the Pope captive. Some von Stauffenbergs converted to Protestantism after Luther but many remained within the Church of Rome. By the seventieth century the Stauffenbergs boasted a Jesuit priest, two prince-bishops and a Field Marshall of the Swabian Order of Saint John. The famous poet and playwright Friedrich von Schiller was a Stauffenberg on his mother's side.
By 1874 General Konrad von Stauffenberg was raised to the rank of Count [Graf] by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. His grandson Alfred Schrenk Graf von Stauffenberg married Karoline von Üxküll and to them were born Alexander, Berthold and Claus von Stauffenberg.
Claus von Stauffenberg's mother Karoline von ÜxKüll was of Prussian descent and her family boasted a great many important military figures among their ancestors. Among these were Field Martial Peter von Wartenburg who began his career as a soldier of fortune and eventually found himself upgrading the Prussian Army as an advisor. Another famous scion of the von ÜxKüll family was Field Marshall August von Gneisenau. He served as an advisor to General George Washington at the end of the American Revolutionary War. Both men were instrumental in the defeat of Napoleon.
The von Stauffenberg brothers were raised with a strong sense of their noble heritage. They lived in a castle owned by the Wittelsbach King of Wütteremberg. Alfred von Stauffenberg served as Senior Marshal [special advisor] to the King and counselled the Bavarian Monarch on matters of foreign relations and diplomacy. His wife Karoline served as 'Lady in Waiting' to the Queen. Her duties included organizing cotillions and other formal social occasions. It was in this fairy-tale milieu of Bavarian aristocracy that Claus von Stauffenberg took his first steps, learned to talk and eventually to dance, fence and ride a horse.
When the Württenburg Monarchy was dissolved in 1918 as a condition of the Armistice the von Stauffenbergs moved to their country estate which had been their ancestral home for over 300 years. The village of Lautingen lies in the Swabian Alps just south of Stuttgart and the Schloss Stauffenberg, with its high roof and lily-white exterior, dominates the small town. The rolling Alpine foothills dotted the countryside the three brothers revelled in exploring the glorious landscape.
Non-Germans can never fully appreciate the significance of the countryside in the make up of the German soul. For the German, and especially the Bavarian, the land and the people merge and fuse in an enigmatic mystical union. Unlike other nations which speak of national spirit, the Germans have always spoken in terms of Blood and Land. It can be seen everywhere in 19th and early 20th century literature and even propaganda - Blood and Iron, Blood and Soil, Blood and Honor. In effect, the German worldview may be described as a sort of spiritual materialism the likes of which non-Germanic peoples can only grasp a slight understanding.
It is in this context that the young Claus von Stauffenberg and his two older twin brothers roamed and explored the Swabian countryside. They saw themselves as being physically and metaphysically merged the environment. This mystical communion with the land combined with the high culture and respect for tradition and family history they received at home made them aristocrats in the highest sense of the term.
As the brothers grew into their teen years their parents recognized the need for them to be tutored and mentored in life and art by an outside party. The standard gymnasium education was limited in its scope and the elder von Stauffenbergs understood their children required more than the regular instruction offered in the German school system.
In this regard they sought out the help and advice of German poet Stefan George [pronounced Gee-org-ah]. George was the definitive German language poet of his era outshining even Rilke in reputation and status. In his early years George roamed the vineyards owned by his parents and soon became aloof and somewhat detached from his contemporaries. During his teens and early 20's George traveled Europe and began to explore poetry and various forms of esoteria. He flirted with Ariosophy - a German form of theosophy which accented German identity but soon found it overly anti-Semitic for his tastes.
Eventually he settled back in Germany and formed the 'George Circle' around 1892. This group comprised an esoteric brotherhood which sought to explore poetry, spiritualism, arcane rites and spiritual doctrines. This group eventually merged with a pre-existing fraternity known as the 'Cosmics' - a fellowship which centered around George when he relocated to Heidelberg. There is much speculation concerning George and his followers. One overriding observation concerning this group was its total domination by George.
There was absolutely no room for individual opinion besides that of George himself. Followers even had to take a 'loyalty oath' to Meister George promising to following him unconditionally and agreeing never to reveal his inner teachings to outsiders.
Sometime in the early 1900's George began to don what looked very much like a curate's cassock and soon his followers began to copy his dress and mannerisms. There were rumors centering around George's use of secret ceremonies in which he wore ornate robes and regalia, burnt incense and performed occult rituals while uttering incantations. Some unfounded rumors surfaced which spoke of homosexual initiation ceremonies. It seems that George formed a Golden Dawn type organization in pre WWI Germany.
At this point George began to publish volumes of poetry which were to capture the imagination of an entire generation of young German intellectuals. His poetry was to German literature what Nietzsche was to German philosophy. Nietzsche captured the essence of German identity while George's poetry explored the Germanic soul. As his poetic star rose George himself became more and more reclusive insisting that he only wanted to be surrounded by spiritual aristocrats.
George proffered a mystical/poetic purview in which a sort of priest king would emerge to lead the German people into a spiritual utopia. [Many Nazis saw this personified in Hitler] This is best reflected in his masterpiece "The New Kingdom" . In this work George expresses his hopes and aspirations for the German people and the mystic imperium he hoped would imbibe and revive his nation.
When Karoline von Stauffenberg approached Stefan George concerning tutoring her three sons the famous poet could not be more pleased. He saw in the three youths the very embodiment of his spiritual and aristocratic leanings. The Stauffenberg brothers saw in George a mentor who understood their background and desires. Soon the three took George's 'loyalty oath' and entered the inner circle of his esoteric secret society.
During his frequent visits to the Stauffenberg home George had the boys learn poetry by heart and even had them compose some of their own poems. He also tutored them in classical civilization and literature with an emphasis on Plato and the Greek dramatists. George had the brothers explore occult philosophy which most likely included the works of Rudolf Steiner and Thule Society literature. Although a neo-pagan at this juncture in his life, George encouraged the three boys to explore the numinous temper of Roman Catholicism with its stress on sacrifice and the mystical nature of divine kingship.
In essence George taught the boys that their duty as aristocrats was to promote a new divine monarchy and to ensure that, within the limits if their circumstance, that they should always act with duty and honor as their watchwords. Nothing less would be befitting those of their high social station.
The two older von Stauffenberg brothers eventually went off to university and were to gain doctorates in the humanities. However, Claus was so infatuated by George's philosophy that he chose a military career over university. Claus von Stauffenberg saw this as his only opportunity to put into practice what his mentor had taught him.
After rising through the ranks to Lieutenant in the German Army von Stauffenberg was surprised when an Austrian named Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933.
At first von Stauffenberg celebrated the rise of the National Socialist Workers Party. He saw in their symbols and their dedication the very essence of the New Kingdom he had envisaged for his entire life. However, his taste for the Führer soon soured. For one thing Stefan George hated Hitler and refused to meet with the new Chancellor. George declined Hitler's invitation to head the Germany Poetry Academy. As a final smear to the 'Leader' George denounced the Führer stating that Hitler was a mere vulgarian who would lead Germany to ruination.
To demonstrate his complete and utter contempt for the Third Reich George left Germany in protest of the new regime and exiled himself to Switzerland. There he died not long after his expatriation in 1933. The Stauffenberg brothers acted as pole bearers at George's funeral.
As the military prowess of the Third Reich grew Claus von Stauffenberg remained as an officer in the regular German Army although his distrust of Hitler grew as the years moved on. When war broke out in 1939 Stauffenberg held a number of combat assignments. He served in all of Hitler's major campaigns from the Sudetenland, to Poland, to France, to Russia and finally North Africa.
On 7 April 1943 Claus Von Stauffenberg was seriously wounded along the Kasserine Pass in the North African desert when Allied fighters strafed his convoy and vehicle. In a hail of machine gun fire Stauffenberg lost his left eye, right hand, two fingers of his left hand and a kneecap.
It was during his recovery that von Stauffenberg, by then a lieutenant colonel, began to plot against the life of Adolf Hitler. Stefan George's opinions concerning Hitler all rang true. He led Germany into the greatest military disaster in modern history. In his initial plan von Stauffenberg knew that any cogent overthrow of the Third Reich would mean the deaths of Hitler and his two closet power sharers - Himmler and Göring.
Upon reflecting on the lives and careers of the three prominent leaders of the Third Reich von Stauffenberg felt nothing but loathing for these commoners who were as far away from George's vision of Divine Kings as one could get. Considering Stauffenberg's aristocratic upbringing - dancing with the Queen of Bavaria as a boy, exploring the Swabian countryside, listening to his parents speak of their lineage and especially studying the mystical poetry and teachings of Stefan George - Hitler, Himmler and Göring were nothing more than mere plebeians.
In Stauffenberg's reckoning Adolf Hitler was an Austrian prole whose military record did not even involve participating in a charge. Upon leaving the armed services Hitler was a failed artist, paper hanger and one time vagabond. Given his chance this ruff-hewn peasant ran Germany into the ground.
Heindrich Himmler, head of the SS, was not even physically-fit enough to pass a basic medical exam for entry into the army. He worked raising and selling chickens for a time but he even failed at this inane employment. Himmler's greatest claim to fame was that he once received a government grant to study the nature of dung in the production of manure but even this study was never completed. Yet on the death of Hitler this ex-chicken farmer possessed the manpower to seize the government as his dreaded SS followed him blindly.
Herman Göring may have had some merit in Stauffenberg's reckoning as he was a WWI flying ace. However, he was a throw back to earlier age and made his living as a stunt pilot and barn stormer after the Great War. He was even an insignificant wine salesman at one time. However, Göring controlled the entire Prussian interior police consequently making him a threat after Hitler's death.
From the Fall of 1943 to the Summer 1944 Claus von Stauffenberg became the leader of a conspiracy to kill Hitler, Göring and Himmler and overthrow the Third Reich in one decisive action. In June 1944 he was promoted to full colonel and appointed Chief of Staff to Home Army Commander General Friedrich Fromm. Now von Stauffenberg had direct access to Hitler's briefing sessions and he made his final move against the man he referred to as 'The Anti Christ'.
On July 20 after returning to Berlin after the bombing von Stauffenberg soon discovered that Hitler had miraculously survived the blast and that his co-conspirators had failed to launch the coup. The plot quickly collapsed and Count Claus von Stauffenberg was subsequently shot for sedition.
If the coup had succeeded it is doubtful von Stauffenberg would have restored democracy. Although his provisional government would have placed General Ludwig Beck as Head of State, von Stauffenberg would have had full control of all armed forces as Secretary of War. Most likely he would have sued for a negotiated peace with the allies and retained most of the new Reich.
In this regard it can be plausibly argued that von Stauffenberg would have eventually restored some form of monarchy in Germany with either himself or one of his brothers appointed as King or Holy Roman Emperor of Germania. Considering Stauffenberg's aristocratic background, the monarchical influence of Stefan George, and his overall disdain for the lower class types who gained political power in democratic regimes, this theory constitutes a reasonable conclusion.
It is unclear what Stauffenberg's opinions were concerning the Holocaust but it is certain that he hoped to bring diehard Nazis, like Albert Speer, into the new provisional government.
Stauffenberg also recruited the German commander of France into the plot and, consequently, did not seem to plan to give up any segment of the Greater Reich if the coup had been successful.
It is very unlikely that von Stauffenberg would have bought back some scion of the Kaiser's family to act as king. In his the reckoning the Hohenzollern dynasty was too quick to jump on the National Socialist bandwagon in hopes of regaining power. Nor were the Kaiser's heirs raised with the same mythical concept of kingship and sacrifice as were the Stauffenberg children.
Count Claus von Stauffenberg was only 37 at the time of the plot and thus required an older and respected leader like General Beck to smooth over the transition of government after the coup. It is clear that Stauffenberg would retain control of the military and even went as far as to form an alliance with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel as a means to consolidate his hold on the armed forces after the Third Reich was deposed. Consequently, Stauffenberg would control the military and could eventually impose any form of government onto the Greater German Reich.
In the final analysis Count Claus von Stauffenberg would have inaugurated the New Kingdom that Stephan George had conceived and would have coronated himself or some scion of his family as Monarch of the New Reich.
A Good German? von Stauffenberg and the July Plot
Roger Moorhouse takes issue with the secular sainthood bestowed on Claus von Stauffenberg, subject of the film "Valkyrie"
Published in 'History' Today Volume 59 Issue 1 January 2009.
January 2009 saw the release of Bryan Singer's new Hollywood movie "Valkyrie", a dramatic retelling of the July 20 plot to kill Adolf Hitler, with Tom Cruise in the starring role of Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, Hitler's would-be assassin.
As is inevitable whenever Hollywood picks up a story such as this, the film will be accompanied by a host of publications, re-publications, documentaries and discussions, as its subject matter is thrust into the media spotlight.
A new and much wider audience of readers and cinema-goers will thus be exposed to the Stauffenberg story, many of them for the first time. Those visiting their multiplexes will be presented with Stauffenberg as a chisel-jawed action hero, a ‘good German’ who stood up to Hitler and 'did the right thing'. Some might even imagine that they are watching the progenitor of the democratic Germany that we know today.
But, before we rush to promote Stauffenberg to the status of a secular saint, we should perhaps take a moment to remind ourselves just who Hitler's most famous potential assassin really was, and what values he espoused. Was he really a harbinger of the 'new' Germany that was to follow him, or was he just as much a product of the 'old' Germany as his intended target?
One must not forget that Stauffenberg was in many ways the archetypal German nationalist - very much a child of the age and milieu in which he lived. He had been an early and enthusiastic supporter of Nazism, for example, and had welcomed Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933. He embraced all of those subsequent measures - the reintroduction of conscription, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss with Austria and the annexation of the Sudetenland - which were seen as 'restoring German honour'.
Stauffenberg was no democrat. He had spent his honeymoon, for example, in Borne, where he had enjoyed an exhibition celebrating Mussolini's first ten years in power. Even in later life, as a prime mover in the plot against Hitler, he had vociferously objected to the inclusion of the political left in the conspiracy.
An aristocrat, Stauffenberg despised 'the lie that all men are equal' and insisted that the 'natural hierarchies' should be respected. His rejection of Hitler, when it came, was not initially grounded in politics or morality, it was based on class. He could not be a subject of Hitler, he said, as Hitler was a 'petty bourgeois' and his family tradition forbade it.
Stauffenberg was also susceptible to the all-pervasive climate of racial and national prejudice under Hitler. Upon completion of the Polish campaign in 1939, for instance (in which he had served as a staff officer in a Light Panzer Division), he described the Poles as 'an unbelievable rabble' of 'Jews and mongrels' who were 'only comfortable under the knout'. He would go on to advocate the systematic colonisation of occupied Poland by Nazi Germany.
Even after joining the resistance in 1943, Stauffenberg barely changed his opinions. Though he - like the other conspirators from the German military - was motivated primarily by his sense of horror at the Holocaust and his desire to end the brutality of Nazism, there was another important strand to his thinking. As a military man, he had been an occasional critic of Hitler's military leadership. But, by 1943, he was fully convinced that Hitler was driving the nation towards catastrophic defeat. The war could be fought much more effectively, he believed, after a change of personnel at the top.
The removal of Hitler, therefore, was seen by Stauffenberg as much as a military imperative as it was a moral one. And this conviction would, of course, only have been strengthened by the opening of the Allied second front with the Normandy landings of June 1944 - barely six weeks before the attempt on Hitler's life was launched.
Stauffenberg’s fellow conspirators were critical in the same vein. The anti-Nazi diplomat Hans Gisevius, for instance, clashed repeatedly with him over the plans for the wider coup against Hitler – Gisevius preferring a thorough-going revolution to Stauffenberg’s more minimalist approach. In assassinating the Führer, Gisevius complained, Stauffenberg ‘wanted to drop no more ballast than was absolutely necessary, then he would paint the ship of state a military grey and set it afloat again’. Stauffenberg, it seemed, envisaged replacing Hitler’s rule with a military dictatorship.
Stauffenberg was certainly dynamic and there is no doubting his personal valour. He clearly stood out both among his often timorous and vacillating group of co-conspirators and in his decisive actions at Rastenburg in planting the bomb that almost killed Hitler. In addition, he exhibited a profound moral bravery. He had seen the hideous crimes that Hitler’s soldiers were committing in Germany’s name and had resolved to act in defence of a higher morality, though he knew it might well cost him his life.
This assessment should not, therefore, be viewed as a character assassination. Stauffenberg is rightfully remembered: his place in the pantheon, as modern history’s most famous would-be tyrannicide, is assured. Rather, it should be taken as a timely corrective: a reminder that we are unwise to view the past through the prism of the present; foolish if we judge historical characters according to modern standards.
Above all, it is a reminder to the reading and cinema-going public not to accept their new Hollywood hero at face value, uncritically; not blithely to imagine that he was ‘one of us’. Let us not fool ourselves: for all his valour, Stauffenberg espoused values that were just as alien to us – and to modern Germany – as Hitler’s were.
Roger Moorhouse is the author of "Killing Hitler" (Vintage)
The conspirators against Hitler were anything but heroes
by John Rosenthal
8 January 2009
"Many Saw Evil", the posters for the new Tom Cruise film "Valkyrie" proclaim, "They Dared to Stop It". Or tried, at any rate. The members of what is known in Germany as the “July 20” plot failed, of course, to kill Hitler and were unable to seize power. If this slight exaggeration amounts to wishful thinking, however, the suggestion that the would-be assassin, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, and his co-conspirators “saw evil” in the Nazi regime amounts to an outright distortion of the historical record.
In fact, Stauffenberg served the Nazi regime loyally almost to the very end and continued to share its most fundamental ideas and "values" even when he finally turned against it. What Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters "saw" was not evil. What they saw — undoubtedly with increasing clarity following the German defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943, and with near certainty following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944 — was that Germany was going to lose the war and that the reckoning would be severe when it did. The need to prevent this impending "catastrophe" for the "Fatherland" is the common thread running through all their known statements. Once Hitler was out of the way, the plotters hoped to avoid the worst by proactively seeking peace with the western Allies before Germany was forced into an unconditional surrender. They, above all, feared the consequences of a foreign occupation of Germany.
Contrary to what the film repeatedly suggests, the fate of the Jews appears to have played little role in their considerations and it was certainly not the trigger that finally moved them to action. The systematic extermination of the Jews had, after all, begun long before the plotters resolved to act. Recent historical research has indeed shown that members of the plot were themselves directly involved in implementing the murderous policies of the Nazi regime vis-à-vis the Jews of the Soviet Union. In reference to this research, the leading German historian Hans Mommsen has concluded:
"There is no getting around the fact that a considerable number of the persons who actively participated in the July 20 plot … earlier took part in the war of racial extermination [i.e., on the Eastern front], for periods at least approved of it and in some cases actively promoted it".
In light of these findings, it is hardly surprising that one of the conditions that the plotters laid down for any potential peace agreement with the Allies was that no Germans should be tried for war crimes by foreign or international courts. This may have been an expression of self-preservation as much as “patriotism,” since some of them presumably had reason to believe that they could themselves face charges. According to the historian Christian Gerlach, one of those implicated was Major General Henning von Tresckow. He was a key member of the plot who, as played by Kenneth Branagh, figures prominently in the film and whose seemingly “moral” injunctions on the need to act against Hitler serve as a sort of Leitmotif. Tresckow’s own role in the Eastern campaign and his anxieties about the inexorable advance of the Red Army are not thematized at all.
The notion that Stauffenberg himself was somehow out to "save the Jews" is a relatively recent bit of revisionism, for which the historian and Stauffenberg biographer Peter Hoffmann is largely responsible. It is undoubtedly no coincidence that Hoffmann is prominently thanked during the closing credits of "Valkyrie". But the "most irrefutable" evidence offered by Hoffmann for this thesis is in fact extremely flimsy. It consists of a single phrase in a testimonial that was unearthed from the KGB archives after the end of the Cold War. The author of the testimonial is one Joachim Kuhn, a German officer who was taken prisoner by the Soviets one week after the assassination attempt.
In the preface to the third German edition of his Stauffenberg biography, Hoffmann insists that the document, dated September 1944, "is untainted by any wish for ex-post self-justification". The remark amounts to a tacit acknowledgment that all the rest of his evidence — consisting as it does of post-war recollections — is precisely so tainted. But, as it happens, Kuhn was a close subordinate of none other than Tresckow, and in Soviet captivity one could easily imagine that he too felt more than a little need for "self-justification".
Given his ample access to German archives and his many years of research, the fact that Hoffmann would have to rely on such a fortuitous second-hand source is perhaps the most damning indication of just how unconcerned Stauffenberg must have been about the fate of the Jews. Hoffmann himself provides inadvertent insight into Stauffenberg’s views of Jews — as well as his racism more generally — when he cites a letter that Stauffenberg wrote home to his wife Nina from Poland in September 1939, just days after the German invasion. "The population is unbelievable rabble," Stauffenberg writes, "a whole lot of Jews and a whole lot of racial mixing [Mischvolk]. A people that only feels comfortable under the knout". And then, displaying an insouciance worthy of a true member of the Germanic "master race," he adds: "The thousands of prisoners will really be good for our agriculture. In Germany, they will definitely be of good use: hard-working, docile and undemanding". Hoffman concedes, moreover, that both Claus von Stauffenberg and his brother and co-conspirator Berthold approved of the Nazi "racial" policies. Berthold was indeed a legal scholar and published an article already in 1933 in which he defended stripping the so-called "Eastern Jews" [Ostjuden] of their German citizenship on "racial" grounds.
One would never know any of this from the film, however. The very first scene opens with Cruise/Stauffenberg brooding over the "mass executions of the Jews". Later, after the assassination attempt and while Cruise/Stauffenberg is still under the impression that Hitler is dead, he is depicted energetically issuing orders to shut down the concentration camps and to arrest the Nazi leadership. The scenes in question represent the most outrageously bogus sequence in the entire film. Among other things, they give the impression that the plotters’ coup plans got much farther than they ever did. But the initial orders prepared by Stauffenberg in the event of Hitler’s death are known. They contain nothing about shutting down the concentration camps and refer not to the arrest of the Nazi leadership, but merely to its subordination to the Army leadership. Cruise/Stauffenberg’s "concentration camp order" appears to be a transfer from a draft declaration attributed to General Ludwig Beck and Carl Gördeler, the leading civilian member of the plot who was slated to become chancellor if it succeeded. The text of the declaration is available from the German Resistance Memorial Center. It is, however, accompanied by a note that indicates that the original document is "missing". The extant text is a "reconstruction". While Gördeler may well have been put off by the brutality of the Nazis’ methods, incidentally, he too advocated the expulsion of Jews from German society.
"We have to show the world that not all of us were like him," Cruise/Stauffenberg can be heard solemnly intoning toward the end of the film, presumably referring by "us" to Germans and by "him" to Hitler. When all is said and done, this seems indeed to be the whole point of the movie — which undoubtedly helps to explain why it received millions of dollars in financial support from the German government.
Well, of course not all of "them" were like "him". But Stauffenberg and his inner circle of co-conspirators were in many respects more like "him" than he was. Their geo-political "vision" was essentially indistinguishable from that of leading Nazi theorists like Carl Schmitt. Stauffenberg advisor Adam von Trott zu Solz wrote, for instance, "Germany — and all of Europe — is threatened by alien powers from the East and from the West, by the Soviets and by the Americans". Stauffenberg and his brother Berthold were devoted followers of the esoteric poet and prophet of the "New Reich," Stefan George. It is no wonder, then, that they were thrilled when Hitler’s "Third Reich" seemed to fulfill the master’s prophecy.
Above all, Stauffenberg was a great German chauvinist whose convictions about the natural superiority of the German "race" or Volk were arguably even more pronounced than those of Hitler himself. This can be seen most clearly in the "oath" that Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters composed for themselves just weeks before the assassination attempt. The purpose of the oath, incidentally, appears to have been to create a "secret bond" among the plotters that would enable them to continue their struggle against the Allied occupiers, i.e., in the event that they were not able to prevent the Reich’s collapse. It begins as follows:
"We believe in the future of the Germans.
"We know that the German has powers by virtue of which he is called to lead the community of western nations into a more beautiful life.
"In spirit and deed, we pledge our faithfulness to the great tradition of our people [Volk], which created western man through the fusing of Hellenic and Christian origins in the Germanic character.
"We want a New Order that makes all Germans into bearers of the state and guarantees them law and justice. But we despise the lie of equality and demand the recognition of naturally given ranks".
The only trace of the plotters’ mystical Germanomania that remains in the film are the final words that Cruise/Stauffenberg cries just before he is executed: "Long live sacred Germany!" According to some reports, his actual words were "secret Germany". It was this "secret Germany" that was sworn to defy the Allied powers that were then advancing toward the heart of the Reich.
John Rosenthal’s writings on European politics and transatlantic relations have appeared in English, French, and German in such leading publications as "Policy Review", "Les Temps Modernes", and "Merkur". He holds a PhD in philosophy and he taught political philosophy and classical German philosophy before turning to journalism. More of his work can be found at "Transatlantic Intelligencer".
Beyond the war hero
Bernard-Henri Levy embarks on an adventure of anti-Nazi dialectics. First stop: Tom Cruise
The release of "Operation Valkyrie" first in the Unites States and Germany and now in France is without question a good thing. Because it's always a pleasure to see the world honour its heroes. Riveting as it is however, this film poses certain questions that are too complex and too delicate to be resolved solely within the logic of the Hollywood film industry.
The first has not escaped the attention of German commentators and concerns the choice of Tom Cruise to play von Stauffenberg, a man presented as the very incarnation of anti-Hitler honour. Not that Cruise ever showed sympathy for Hitlerism. But he is a leader of a sect, the Church of Scientology, about which the least one can say is that its values have little to do with those that led to the destruction of Hitlerism. Elitism, social and political Darwinism, education as a form of dressage, brainwashing raised to a principle of conviction, sequestration, applying cybernetics to social organisation, black magic, an apocalyptic vision of the world. This is Scientology, and this is Cruise's credo. And seen in this light having him play Stauffenberg is a mistake or, as Berthold von Stauffenberg, Stauffenberg's son, said when he learned of the decision, a very grave attack on the memory of his father.
The second question, no doubt unavoidable with this sort of enterprise, is whether raising someone to hero status does not always happen, alas, to the detriment of precision, nuance and history itself. The film shows Stauffenberg's integrity very well. It shows his courage, the nobility of his views, his firmness of spirit. But what does it tell us of his thoughts? What does it teach us about why he enthusiastically joined the Nazi Party in 1933? Why does it go into no detail on how many of his initial Nazi convictions he had to jettison to carry out his plot and how many remained intact? A sympathy for Ernst Jünger, for example? Or for Oswald Spengler? A fierce hostility to Weimar and the idea of democracy which he shared with the other former members of the Freikorps who remained true to National Socialism and its frenetic anti-Semitism? Did Stauffenberg hope to get rid of Hitler or Hitlerism? Of a bad tyrant or the principle of tyranny? Was his project to destroy Nazism or to rescue it?
And why does the film not go into the true and tragic paradox of the affair? Why does it not illustrate what one should call the "Stauffenberg theorem", which involved getting close, very close, to Hitler (a proximity that, bearing in mind the hyper-surveillance of Hitlerist society, could be neither feigned nor fictitious) to acquire access to the Wolf's Lair and thus be able to deposit the deadly briefcase? I do not believe I am flouting anyone's memory by saying that even after "Valkyrie" one can ask what values (oh yes!) Nazism and certain of its adversaries shared, or by maintaining that on second analysis there could be a sort of hidden logic after all, a ruse of history, in this meeting between the Scientologist actor and the conspirators of July 1944.
Thirdly, this film risks having the Stauffenberg tree hide the forest of the German resistance to Hitlerism, such as it is described by Joachim Fest in his book "Plotting Hitler's Death: The Story of German Resistance". This book must be read as a counterpoint to "Valkyrie", because it clearly differentiates between the latter-day plotters among Hitler's officers like Stauffenberg and earlier ones such as Hans Oster and Hans von Dohanyi, who conspired against Hitler from within the army as early as 1938. The explosion of the first National Socialist nucleus revealed a whole galaxy of figures. There were National Bolsheviks like Ernst Niekisch who broke with Nazism as early as 1934, and national conservatives like Wilhelm Canaris who looked back nostalgically to the grand eastern alliance dashed by the rift between Stalin and Hitler. There were conservative revolutionaries such as Hermann Rauschning, author of "The Revolution of Nihilism".
One of the most widely quoted sources of information about Hitler's personality and secret intentions is the supposed memoir of Hermann Rauschning, the National Socialist President of the Danzig Senate in 1933-1934 who was ousted from the Hitler movement a short time later and then made a new life for himself as a professional anti-Nazi.
In the book known in German as "Conversations with Hitler" (Gespräche mit Hitler) and first published in the U.S. in 1940 as The Voice of Destruction, Rauschning presents page after page of what are purported to be Hitler's most intimate views and plans for the future, allegedly based on dozens of private conversations between 1932 and 1934. After the war the memoir was introduced as Allied prosecution exhibit USSR-378 at the main Nuremberg "war crimes" trial.
Among the damning quotations attributed to Hitler by Rauschning are these memorable statements:
"We must be brutal. We must regain a clear conscience about brutality. Only then can we drive out the tenderness from our people ... Do I propose to exterminate entire nationalities? Yes, it will add up to that ... I naturally have the right to destroy millions of men of inferior races who increase like vermin ... Yes, we are barbarians. We want to be barbarians. It is an honorable title".
Hitler is also supposed to have confided to Rauschning, an almost unknown provincial official, fantastic plans for a German world empire that would include Africa, South America, Mexico and, eventually, the United States.
Many prestigious historians, inculding Leon Poliakov, Gerhard Weinberg, Alan Bullock, Joachim Fest, Nora Levin and Robert Payne, used choice quotations from Rauschning's memoir in their works of history. Poliakov, one of the most prominent Holocaust writers, specifically praised Rauschning for his "exceptional accuracy", while Levin, another widely-read Holocaust historian, called him "one of the most penetrating analysts of the Nazi period".
But not everyone has been so credulous. Swiss historian Wolfgang Hänel spent five years diligently investigating the memoir before announcing his findings in 1983 at a revisionist history conference in West Germany. The renowned "Conversations with Hitler", he declared are a total fraud. The book has no value "except as a document of Allied war propaganda."
Hänel was able to conclusively establish that Rausching's claim to have met with Hitler "more than a hundred times" is a lie. The two actually met only four times, and never alone. The words attributed to Hitler, he showed, were simply invented or lifted from many different sources, including writings by Ernst Jünger and Friedrich Nietzsche. An account of Hitler hearing voices, waking at night with convulsive shrieks and pointing in terror at an empty corner while shouting "There, there, in the corner!" was taken from a short story by French writer Guy de Maupassant.
The phony memoir was designed to incite public opinion in democratic countries, especially in the United States, in favor of war against Germany. The project was the brainchild of the Hungarian-born journalist Emery Reves, who ran an influential anti-German press and propaganda agency in Paris during the 1930s. Hänel has also found evidence that a prominent British journalist named Henry Wickham-Steele helped to produce the memoir. Wickham-Steele was a right-hand man of Sir Robert Vansittart, perhaps the most vehemently anti-German figure in Britain.
Recently, West Germany's most influential weekly periodicals, "Die Zeit", and "Der Spiegel" (7 September 1985), have run lengthy articles about historical hoax. "Der Spiegel" concluded that Rauschning's "Conversations with Hitler" "are a falsification, an historical distortion from the first to the last page... Hänel not only proves the falsification, he also shows how the impressive surrogate was quickly compiled and which ingredients were mixed together."
There are some valuable lessons to be learned from the story of this sordid hoax, which took more than 40 years to finally unmask: It shows that even the most brazen historical fraud can have a tremendous impact if it serves important interests, that it's easier to invent a great historical lie than to expose one and finally, that everyone should be extremely wary of even the "authoritative" portrayals of the emotionally-charged Hitler era.
- Mark Weber
But above all there were simple people like the carpenter Georg Elser who attempted to assassinate Hitler in 1939. There were student associations like the White Rose group, there were socialists, Catholics and Jews. There were the workers in Berlin, the heroes of Hans Fallada's novel "Every Man Dies Alone" which Primo Levy called the most beautiful book on the German resistance to the Nazis. And there were, finally, those who remained true to the ideals of Weimar and who, like Willy Brandt, preferred being labelled "deserters" over risking the irremediable dishonour of having worn the uniform of the Wehrmacht and, consequently, of the plotters of July 20.
Eradicating these distinctions, all of them, is the risk run by such a film. Underlining them, acknowledging them, continually distinguishing between the culture of war of the Nazis and certain of their opponents on the one hand and the radical anti-Nazism of the heirs of Willy Brandt on the other is made imperative by the very confusion of this film. For Germany this is a task, for Europe it is a duty.
Bernard-Henri Levy is a French public intellectual and journalist. He was one of the leaders of the Nouvelle Philosophie movement in 1976.
This article orginally appeared in "Le Point" on 29 January 2009.
Why did Stauffenberg plant the bomb?
Whatever his motives for killing Hitler, Stauffenberg was no role model for future generations, says British historian Richard Evans
Few incidents in the domestic history of Germany during the Second World War are more dramatic than Colonel Claus Schenk, Graf von Stauffenberg's attempt to assassinate the German "Leader" Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944. The hushed conversations and secret debates of the conspirators beforehand, the near-misses of their previous attempts, the breathtaking audacity of the final bombing, the chance circumstances behind Hitler's survival, the violent and desperate confusion of the final hours at army headquarters in the Bendlerstrasse in Berlin, the stark tragedy of Stauffenberg's summary execution, the mystery of his final exclamation "long live sanctified Germany!" - all of this has become the stuff of legend. It is not surprising that the conspiracy of 20 July 1944 is now to be the subject of a Hollywood movie.
Yet Stauffenberg was much more than an action hero driven by the kind of simple moral imperative that suits Hollywood's desire to portray everything in terms of starkly opposed opposites of good and evil. He found moral guidance in a complex mixture of Catholic religious precepts, an aristocratic sense of honour, Ancient Greek ethics, and German Romantic poetry. Above all, perhaps, his sense of morality was formed under the influence of the poet Stefan George, whose ambition is was to revive a "secret Germany" that would sweep away the materialism of the Weimar Republic and restore German life to its true spirituality. Inspired by George, Stauffenberg came to look for a revival of an idealized medieval Reich, in which Europe would attain a new level of culture and civilization under German leadership. A search of this kind was typical of the Utopianism that inhabited the wilder shores of Weimar culture - optimistic and ambitious, but also abstract and unrealistic. It was ill-suited to serve as the basis for any kind of real political future.
Such influences set Stauffenberg apart from many of the longer-standing members of the military resistance, whose multifarious projects and plans to overthrow Hitler dated from as early as 1938, and were driven above all by a belief that the war the National Socialists were aiming for was unwinnable. To launch it, they believed, would cause incalculable harm to Germany. It was this, rather than any fundamental opposition to National Socialism as such, that motivated the leading members of the military-aristocratic resistance in the late 1930s and at the beginning of the 1940s. Like them, Stauffenberg thought of himself first and foremost as a soldier, in the centuries-old tradition of his family, and for a long while, this military identity outweighed the influences he had imbibed through his membership of the George circle. But even in the late 1930s, he was markedly more sympathetic to National Socialism than were many more senior officers. His relatives were wont to describe him as the only "brown" member of the family. While he was later to lose altogether his enthusiasm for National Socialism, he never lost his contempt for parliamentary democracy. This alone would make him ill-fitted to serve as a model for the conduct and ideas of future generations.
In the 1930s, Stauffenberg was at first enthusiastic about National Socialism's promise of spiritual renewal, and supported Hitler in the Reich presidential elections of 1932. He welcomed Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor, and took part in a street demonstration in its support on the night of 30 January 1933. His enthusiasm never led him to join the Party, for him, the George circle was the only party, but he considered the National Socialists were leading a movement of national renewal that was sweeping away the shabby parliamentary compromises of Weimar. More than this, he also believed that a policy of purifying the German race and eliminating Jewish influences from it was an essential part of this renewal, and although he regarded open antisemitic violence with distaste, the only time he protested was when the vulgar anti-Semitic Hetzblatt "Der Stürmer" accused George's poetry of being "Jewish" and "Dadaistic" in character. For Stauffenberg, Hitler's achievements in revising the Versailles Treaty remained paramount.
Stauffenberg's doubts about the wisdom of starting a general European war were quelled by the stunning successes of German arms in 1939-40, which he saw as decisive steps towards the creation of the general European Reich of the kind he had dreamed of in his days as a disciple of George. Stauffenberg fought with bravery and enthusiasm in the campaigns of the first two years of the war. It was only in the months following the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 that he gradually came to doubt whether National Socialism was going to realize the ideals he sought to achieve. The over-ambitious military strategy adopted by Hitler in 1941, which led to disaster at Moscow in January 1942, was repeated on an even greater scale in the following year, and it became clear to Stauffenberg that it was overstretching Germany's resources to such an extent that failure was becoming inevitable. Even more important, the mass killings of Soviet civilians behind the Eastern Front, the murder of three and a half million Soviet prisoners of war, the looting and destruction of Soviet property, above all, the shooting of hundreds of thousands of Jews, convinced Stauffenberg that the National Socialist regime was recklessly squandering the goodwill that it had initially met among the peoples it had freed from Stalin's yoke. It was betraying his idea of a new Europe under the benevolent rule of the Reich. Indeed, Stauffenberg thought it was betraying the ideals of National Socialism itself.
Like the few other army officers who were critical of the conduct of the war in the east, therefore, Stauffenberg at first took a stance that was motivated more by military than by moral considerations. In the course of 1942, however, Stauffenberg realized that such atrocities were not just counter-productive by-products of a brutal policy of waging war, but formed the very essence of the German war effort. Hitler and the National Socialist leadership were betraying Germany, not merely preventing the realization of the true spiritual values of the "secret Germany" but actually negating them. They were perverting military values and implicating the Armed Forces in terrible crimes that went against all the most fundamental principles by which Stauffenberg and his fellow-officers lived; had he survived the war, this realization that the army itself was being turned into an instrument of criminality would no doubt have made him impatient with those who would claim that it remained untainted by the murderous spirit of National Socialism. It was this moral conviction, arrived at when Germany was still absolutely dominant in Europe, that set Stauffenberg apart from the more instrumental views of some of the other conspirators, who sought above all to rescue Germany from the total defeat that stared it in the face after Stalingrad. These beliefs, combined with his energetic personality, were also what led him to act where many other members of the military-aristocratic resistance still hesitated.
Stauffenberg was acting not just on the basis of a strong moral imperative, but also in the name of a political ideology. He remained true to the essential elitism of the George movement, combining it with a more conservative, basically instinctive belief in the superiority of the aristocracy and the army officer corps. The oath he devised for the conspirators declared that in seeking a "New Order, that makes all Germans bearers of the state", those who signed it none the less "despise the lie of equality, and bow down before the hierarchy ordained by Nature". Like almost all sections of the resistance, he considered parliamentarism, the only viable form of democratic politics, had bankrupted itself in the Weimar Republic; that it would re-emerge after the war would have dismayed as well as surprised him. Here too, in their arrogant dismissal of social and political equality, his ideas looked more to the past than to the future. This rejection of egalitarianism and democracy was shared, in different forms by all the multifarious elements of the resistance, and meant that its attempt to gain a popular base by bringing in political figures from differing ideologies, such as Social Democrats, was never likely to meet with any meaningful success.
The leading figures in the conspiracy hammered out and repeatedly revised a set of aims that became distinctly more modest as Germany's military situation worsened, but even in May 1944 they included a negotiated peace on the basis of the German frontiers of 1914 plus Austria, the Sudetenland and the South Tyrol, autonomy for Alsace-Lorraine, and the retention of an effective defence force in the east. These far-reaching aims, which would have kept Germany as the dominant power on the Continent, indicated that Stauffenberg and his fellow-conspirators remained German nationalists to the end. They would have been a poor guarantee for European peace and co-operation had they ever come into effect.
In view of the Allied insistence on unconditional surrender, the foreign policy aims of the conspiracy were unrealistic in the extreme. By the time the bomb went off, most of the leading conspirators already recognized this unpalatable fact. After the Normandy landings, Stauffenberg doubted whether killing Hitler would serve any useful political purpose. Surely there was no hope any longer, if there had ever been any, of reaching a negotiated settlement with the Allies and rescuing something of Germany from the ruins. But, his fellow-conspirators persuaded him that practical politics were now irrelevant: what mattered was to show that the German resistance had been prepared to act.
Stauffenberg knew therefore that his bomb was important above all as a moral gesture. His intention in setting it off was to rescue the honour of the German people. Yet this aim too failed. The notion of honour that underpinned the conspiracy in its final stages was not dissimilar to that which had led the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto the previous year to go down fighting against the final drive of the SS to exterminate them; or, perhaps, to that of the German navy officers who had tried to lead the fleet out against the Royal Navy at the beginning of November 1918, when all was clearly lost. In a way, it was not even dissimilar to that of Hitler, Göbbels and the other National Socialist leaders who determined in the final months of the war to sacrifice themselves in the interests of their own particular version of Germany's future.
But the National Socialist leaders of course sacrificed millions of others as well. German military losses reached their highest numbers in the final months of the war; civilian deaths from bombing raids likewise. And the mass murder of the Jews continued right to the end. Had Stauffenberg's bomb succeeded in killing Hitler, it is unlikely that the military coup planned to follow it would have moved the leading conspirators smoothly into power. Large parts of the army, the SS and the NSDAP would have resisted by force of arms, and a civil war would have been the most probable result. There can be little doubt, however, that this would have brought huge military advantages to the Allies, and that the war would have come to an end several months sooner than it did, with the consequent saving of millions of lives.
That alone was justification enough for Stauffenberg's act. In failing, he failed comprehensively. The war continued: millions more were killed. [Of Germany’s 7.4 million dead in the Second World War, some 4-5 million lost their lives in the last six months]. Anti-democratic, elitist and nationalist, he had nothing to offer the politics of the coming generations, still less the politics of today. In the end, too, for all the desperate heroism of Stauffenberg and his fellow-conspirators, Germany's honour was not rescued. The conspiracy encompassed only a tiny minority of the German people. The vast majority continued fighting to the end. Most were shocked by the news of the assassination attempt and relieved at Hitler's survival. As a moral gesture, Stauffenberg's bomb was wholly inadequate to balance out the crimes that had been committed in Germany's name and with the overwhelming support, or toleration, or silent acquiescence, of the German people. As the Catholic schoolteacher turned army officer Wilhelm Hosenfeld noted on 16 June 1943, more than a year before Stauffenberg's attempt: "With this horrendous murder of the Jews we have lost the war. We have brought an indelible shame upon ourselves, a curse that cannot be lifted. We deserve no mercy, we are all guilty together".
The article was originally published in "Süddeutsche Zeitung", 23 January 2009.
Richard J. Evans is Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and author of "The Coming of the Third Reich" (Penguin, 2003), "The Third Reich in Power" (Penguin, 2005) and "The Third Reich at War" (Penguin, 2008).
Unmasking the July 20 plot
Karl Heinz Bohrer defends Stauffenberg's historical honour against the judgments passed by Richard Evans
It is thanks to the judgement pronounced by the English historian Richard J. Evans on the assassin Stauffenberg as a new German "hero", that we can move beyond the superficial interest in the film and its plot and on to the moral and political substance of Stauffenberg as hero. If, however, it was Evans's intent to enlighten German readers, then he was doubly mistaken: Firstly Evans's lesson consisted of historical half truths, contradictory theses and slanderous allusions to Stauffenberg's character; and secondly, such distortions differ very little from the view held by West German intelligentsia regarding the events of 20 July 20 1944 and the conspirators who were, for the most part, of aristocratic Prussian stock. So it's owls to Athens. For a proper understanding of the how the plot against Hitler of 1944 is seen and judged today, one should bear in mind that today's horizon has shifted.
Before I go into the weaknesses of Evans's thesis, I would first like to look at the horizon in Germany today. One should remember that until the end of the fifties and later even, the overwhelming majority of the German society stigmatised the attack and its protagonists. The reasons for this, as Evans's text rightly suggests, stemmed on the one hand from the residue Nazi mentality in the majority of the population and on the other, from the resentment harboured by a new petit-bourgeois middle class which could no longer relate either culturally, politically or psychologically to characters such as Stauffenberg, Tresckow, Kleist, Schulenburg, Bussche, Trott zu Solz, or even to Moltke und Yorck von Wartenburg. That a list of distinguished middle-class men, most notably Dietrich Bonhöffer, lost their lives resisting Hitler has done nothing to prevent this memory loss.
If, in spite of all the official remembrance days, the names of those who conspired against Hitler surfaced at all in the collective memory of the West German public, it was most likely to be as scapegoats: Why couldn't the members of an elitist upper class just disappear and take the flawed Nazi past with them, one, it should be said, which the West German majority initially refused to confront (until the children and grandchildren of these very Nazis suddenly became tireless in their efforts to kitschify the intellectual climate with their "antifascist" posing and strutting.
As such Evan's misrepresentation of the July 20 plot and its central figure - something he avoids in his important book "The Third Reich At War" (2008) - is profoundly accommodating of this milieu. Indeed, reading his text one sometimes gets the impression that he is having his lines fed to him by West German academia. In the course of his problematic argument he walks into two traps: 1. by contesting Stauffenberg's "moral motivation"; 2. by contesting Stauffenberg's suitability as role model. At he fall into the first, his analysis blurs and he starts contradicting himself.
If then, as Evans notes with initial objectivity, Stauffenberg had a strong moral imperative - whether this stemmed from an aristocratic code of honour, Catholic doctrine or Romantic poetry - then this also underpinned his initial affinity for National Socialism which Stauffenberg misinterpreted as "spiritual renewal". If "true spirituality" was Stauffenberg's guiding political impulse - and aside from Stefan George's mystical nationalism, this was rooted in the language of Hölderlin more than anything else, in his evocation of the "Fatherland", his "holy heart of the people" his avowal of "the holy be my word". Logically then, Stauffenberg's moral Leitmotiv should be traced back to this spirituality which, for Hölderlin, was pietistically tinged. It is therefore unconvincing to declare Stauffenberg's initial patriotic engagement in the war a moral deficit.
To muddy Stauffenberg's motives, Evans likes to operate with dates. It was "only in 1941" that Stauffenberg entertained his first doubts. Doubts about what? About the Nazi war's chances of success, or about the Nazi crimes in Russia? Evans's rhetoric becomes opaque at this point: If he has to admit that the National Socialist mass killings were what made an assassin out of Stauffenberg, the spiritually motivated soldier, why then relativise this motivation with a remark about Stauffenberg's insight into the military senselessness of this crime, an insight that was shared by high-ranking SS officers?
But then Evans's tactic is to contest the moral motivation behind the assassination attempt by pointing to how late in time it supposedly took place, as if were born out of the fear of losing the war rather than any morals held by the conspirators. Indeed in his book "The Third Reich at War", which otherwise relies on very balanced historical observation, Evans claims that Fritz Dietlof von der Schulenburg, one of Stauffenberg's early political mentors, did not arrive at the decision to assassinate Hitler until 1944, after the catastrophe of Stalingrad. Bearing in mind that there are undisputed documents which testify that, as early as 1939, before the outbreak of war, Schulenburg had mentioned in a conspiratorial conversation, the need to eliminate Hitler, not least because of the obvious criminality of his regime, - Evans's date shifting constitutes libel and insult to his honour, in that it implies that Schulenburg was motivated exclusively by military considerations. This view, which was hinted at in the book, now becomes method. The fact that Schulenburg, like Stauffenberg, thought in categories of Prussian-German patriotism that are alien to us today, is apparently too much for Evans's one-dimensional historical imagination.
Unclear in his argumentation, Evans continues to play off "military" against "moral" motivation until he collapses into self-contradiction. While, on the one hand, he talks about Stauffenberg being "motivated more by military than by moral considerations" in the next paragraph he talks about his "moral conviction" so as to distinguish him from the other conspirators. This, although his book about the Third Reich during the war provides plenty of evidence that he was aware of the mindset of the other younger Putsch officers such as von dem Bussche or Ewald Heinrich von Kleist. This false analysis then reaches it grotesque climax with the equation of Stauffenberg's execution with Hitler's suicide: Stauffenberg had no intention of sacrificing himself, no, he was planning to outlive Hitler and realise his political ideas. And Hitler was certainly not sacrificing himself but expressis verbis the German people.
If his assessment of the moral motives borders on impudence, his political conclusions are slow on the uptake. That Evans accuses Prussian officers of being German nationalists, who, like Hitler, were bent on revising the Versailles Treaty and who endorsed Third Reich European power politics, is not only profoundly naive, it is also hypocritical.
When English politicians and intellectuals of the 1930s mistrusted Adam von Trott zu Solz and his attempts to use his old Oxford contacts to raise support for a secret Germany of resistance, they did so on the basis of what they deemed to be unacceptably patriotic motives. They wrote him off as a Nazi, and made their suspicions known to his American contacts. But they had their reasons. This mistrust resulted from an intellectually-based argument, as the letters from von Trott's Oxford friends, Sheila Grant Duff and Isaiah Berlin reveal.
Evans cannot co-opt this understandable insecurity about Trott's "Hegelian" mentality. His claim, astounding for an historian of our times, that the conspirators were not democrats and are therefore undeserving of our respect and honour, goes beyond distortion of the facts and into the blindness of political correctness. This is the line of argument taken by German historians who write German history from a social-democrat perspective.
There is no question that like Ernst Jünger and Gottfried Benn, Stauffenberg's first spiritual influence, Stefan George, entertained pre-fascist fantasies. And there is also no question that the young Stauffenberg's reverence for the medieval 'Reich' was reactionary in a similar vein to Novalis's ideas in "Die Christenheit oder Europa". But what does that mean? Neither of them had political ideas that could in any way have served as a model for democratic European societies in the second half of the twentieth century. But to fundamentalise this tautological insight to effectively deny the conspirators any moral or cultural relevance is blinkered and constitutes intellectual bigotry. George, Jünger and Benn's pre-fascist fantasies contained important modernist symbols which mean they cannot be judged by political moralist criteria, alone. The same goes for Stauffenberg and his friends who, in a different way to the "idealistic" Scholl siblings and their circle, represented a calibre of ethics, character and culture class of which today's politicians and other bureaucratic elites can only dream.
One would think that Evans might have been prompted by Hans Mommsen, a historian who was certainly not uncritical of the July 20 conspirators, not to forget the noblesse and strength of character shown by these emphatically conservative men, even if their ideas, and this goes for Stauffenberg, Schulenburg as well as those in the Kreisau Circle, seem politically anachronistic today. Evans has not only forgotten them, they seem to have entirely escaped his attention.
The fact is, as English critics of the film "Valkyrie" have rightly pointed out, its specific deficit is the failure to even broach the subject of the spiritual and intellectual background of the conspirators. Then again, that would have demanded a second "recherche du temps perdu" which is not possible in a film of this genre. The documents for this intellectual-moral zone exist, one only needs to consult the letters (which are partly accessible to the public at least) of von Trott zu Solz or Schulenburg, the diaries of one Marie "Missie" Vassiltchikov or Ursula von Kardoff ("Diary of a Nightmare"), to recognise Evans's complete denial of a moral dimension as tendentious.
The problem, aside from putting historical facts into disarray, centres around an error of reasoning: The belief that one can negate an intellectual and cultural paradigm by challenging â€“ and rightly so â€“ the validity of a political role model. How philistine, and in terms of philosophical history, how naive to believe that contemporary applications are the sole criteria for past events. But it's not about these applications!
The danger that, in the imagination of an historically illiterate cinema audience, the character of an American actor will fuse with that of the German original into a heroic role model for people today, is insufficient grounds to rob Stauffenberg of his historical honour. Bertolt Brecht's words are far more applicable to the summer of 1944: "Unhappy the land that needs heroes". This deed was necessary because it took place in an unhappy country that was turning its back on the community of nations. In this sense the conspirators were heroes. But also in a contemporary sense that Evans completely overlooks. These were people with enormous civil courage, who were ready and able to endure absolute isolation. This is a very modern virtue. One would not want to demand something similar from the conformist and politically correct Nazi heirs in a post-heroic society. My guess is that these politically correct conformists would have been the first to condemn the 1944 plot. Which is why their representatives, and their new stooge Evans, should stop beating the sparks of a modern-day moral triumphalism out of a past historical event at the expense of its authors. It is sensible and necessary to make the Germans politically responsible as a nation. But to give their political minorities the honour they deserve is beyond the level of finesse that Professor Evans has at his disposal. To recognise this is all the more essential now that the German intellectual milieu will be lapping up Evans's unmasking of the July 20 plot, as piously as lambs.
This article orginally appeared in "Süddeutsche Zeitung" on 30 Janary 2009.
Karl Heinz Bohrer is a cultural critic and publisher of the monthly "Merkur" magazine. He is also visiting professor for German and Comparative Studies at Stanford University.
Allen W. Dulles, the first English-language historian of the July 20 plot wrote this:
"There was an anti-Nazi underground working in Germany, despite the general impression to the contrary. It developed out of heterogeneous groups that finally achieved a working unity and reached into the vitals of the army and the government services. Professional men, church and labor leaders, and high commanding officers on various fronts participated. Even Field Marshals [Erwin] Rommel and [Günther] von Kluge finally had a share, but this was late in the day, when they saw that military victory had eluded them. But there were others of a very different moral fiber, both civilian and military, who were not opportunists and who had fought Hitlerism for many years.... It is easy to criticize the German underground for its delays, disunities, vacillations, and ultimate failure. But in a police state such as Hitler and Himmler organized it is not likely that men will do much better than a Beck, a Gördeler, a Moltke, a Leuschner or a Stauffenberg".
Valkyrie: Stauffenberg a hero? I don’t think so
by Hans Kundnani
27 January 2009
The critics seem to have been almost unanimously unimpressed with "Valkyrie", which stars Tom Cruise as Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the key figure in the failed plot to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944. But whether or not it’s a good film, it raises a deeper, much more difficult question: should Stauffenberg be seen as a hero, as the movie strongly suggests and many people in Germany also believe?
You wouldn’t know it from watching the movie, but like many aristocratic Wehrmacht officers, Stauffenberg was initially enthusiastic about Nazism and approved of the colonisation of Poland. Although he was subsequently appalled by the mass murder of Jews on the Eastern Front, in which the Wehrmacht was complicit, he became involved in the resistance movement within the military only after he was badly wounded in North Africa in April 1943. The movie also gives us little sense of what else was going on in the Reich in the summer of 1944 when the assassination attempt finally took place. At that point, as the Red Army advanced and war crimes tribunals loomed, the SS was even beginning to wind down the extermination of the Jews. In other words, Stauffenberg left it until extremely late in the day.
One might also think, from watching the movie, that the conspirators were enlightened democrats. Far from it. Men like Carl Gördeler, who would have become German chancellor if the Stauffenberg coup had succeeded, were national conservatives who hated the Weimar Republic as much as the Nazi dictatorship and wanted essentially to restore aristocratic rule and maintain German domination of contintental Europe. (There was another connected group, the Kreisau circle around Helmuth James von Moltke, which was motivated more by Christian and socialist principles, but unlike the national conservatives it declined to act against Hitler.)
Furthermore, a big part of why the conspirators took so long to attempt to assassinate Hitler, why they devised such elaborate schemes to do so (including one involving a bomb disguised as two cognac bottles that mysteriously metamorphoses in the movie into Cointreau – product placement perhaps?) and why they ultimately failed, was their own reluctance to be killed in the process. Despite their pious declarations about the need to show the rest of the world that another Germany existed.
The conspirators have been hailed as heroes, but historian Robert Payne has a harsher opinion:
"The conspirators died heroically, but they were not heroes. They bungled the most necessary assassination of their time when it was within their power to do the job well, and they bungled their short-lived revolution and incriminated thousands of people through their carelessness and lack of understanding of the elementary principles of conspiracy. They were amateurs when professionals were needed".
- Robert Payne, "The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler" (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973)
How Germans Came to View Claus von Stauffenberg as a Hero -- And Thank Goodness!
by Randall Hansen
14 July 2014
Seventy years ago this July 20, a dashing colonel, Claus von Stauffenberg, blind in one eye and missing fingers on one hand, placed a bomb under a conference table in East Prussia. The plan, called Operation Valkyrie, was to kill Hitler, declare martial law to put down an alleged SS coup, and to install a government that would negotiate an end to the war with the Allies.
The plan almost worked: several men in the room were killed, and if Stauffenberg had either used two bombs (one was left behind for reasons that remain unclear) or if the conference had taken place in the usual airtight Bunker (it was moved to an airy hut because of the heat), everyone would have been killed. After it emerged that Hitler had survived, the coup in Berlin fell apart, and an opportunist commander, General Friedrich Fromm, had Stauffenberg, his adjutant First Lieutenant Werner von Häften, his old friend Colonel Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, and Lieutenant General Friedrich Olbricht (commander of the reserve army that was to arrest the SS, SD, and Gestapo across Germany) shot.
Stauffenberg was directly supported on that night by around two hundred resisters, who waited to seize Vienna and Paris, to pass on orders, to mobilize troops, and to sever communications. Their motivations were multiple, but for those at the top – Stauffenberg, General Henning von Tresckow, Olbricht, and others – three factors led them to risking their lives in overthrowing Hitler: he was a lunatic who was destroying the German army, sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to their deaths, and slaughtering entire peoples in the process.
In the decades that followed, there has been great debate on the plan, which is frequently denounced as feeble and amateurish; on the moral worth of the resisters; and on the merits of commemorating their efforts. Indeed, as the July 20 commemorations roll around, several commentators attempt, like clockwork, to ruin the party. Drawing (often without citation) on the early work of the distinguished historian Hans Mommsen, they point out that the July 20 resisters were not ‘PLU’ (people like us): they were not democrats and had been horrified by the chaos of Weimar Germany; they had in many cases supported National Socialism in the early years; and they hoped to save the German army from total destruction.
All these points are very true, and Mommsen and his associates were right to reject a fawning and sycophantic literature that attempted to canonize the July 20 resisters. But the critics are not content to leave it at that: the resisters, they continue, were deplorable reactionaries who had nothing to teach the postwar federal republic.
The last point gets it entirely wrong abstractly but, more importantly, historically. For as a matter of fact they did teach postwar Germany, and by extension Europe, a great deal. To understand this, we must recognize that in the months and the years after the coup most Germans viewed Stauffenberg and the July 20 resisters as traitors. This was, not coincidentally, a period in which a majority of Germans thought National Socialism was a good idea badly applied. The wives of the resisters were denied pensions, and former mass murderers from the SS gleefully went around the globe denouncing them as treacherous cowards.
Then matters slowly began to change. When the German armed forces – now the Federal German Armed Forces – were created in 1955, the ghosts of both Stauffenberg and Stalingrad (the latter a prime example of the results of blind military obedience) had to be confronted. Against those who argued that an army could not be built upon the legacy of disobedience of military orders, Defense Minister Theodor Blank insisted that Stauffenberg and the July 20 resisters become the moral foundation of the new German army. When officers applied to the new German army, they were expected to “recognize Stauffenberg’s act of conscience and base their respect for the many soldiers who died doing their duty on this recognition (Buck 1998: 279).”
As the army changed, so did the German people. From the 1960s, Germans’ view of the resisters evolved, and respect and admiration replaced suspicion and contempt. More than this, the Germans’ attitude to the resisters was a marker for broader, more fundamental trends: Germans began celebrating the resisters in the same years that their democracy consolidated (the reaction to the 1962 Spiegel affair marked one turning point) and they began seriously, from the 1960s, to confront their own responsibility for the Holocaust and a war of annihilation against the Soviet Union.
The July 20 resisters would never have regarded themselves as heroes. Although the senior resisters – Stauffenberg and Tresckow – turned against Hitler on moral grounds, in revulsion to the atrocious, they knew that they were indirectly implicated in National Socialist crimes, whereas other resisters were directly implicated. Indeed, they saw their final act as resistance in part as a form of penance. They in fact doubted they would succeed, but they were determined to try to show the world that were those in Germany that were horrified by the deeds of the regime and to offer their children and grandchildren a moral frame of reference. “The assassination attempt must take place whatever the cost,” Tresckow told Stauffenberg, who questioned the point of the coup after the Normandy landings. “What counts is the fact that in the eyes of the world and of history the German resistance was prepared to act. Compared with that nothing else matters.”
In this they succeeded, and it is natural and right that the Germans regard them as heroes. As the great military historian Gerhard Weinberg noted, all people need a past to which they can relate positively. It should be a matter of unalloyed satisfaction, not curmudgeonly carping, that in a day in which mass murders such as Josef Stalin enjoy the admiration of millions, and in which the starver and slaughterer of millions, Mao Zedong, has his picture emblazoned across China, the Germans look for heroes in the figure of those who were prepared to risk their lives, along with those of their families, to put an end to Hitler’s butchery. That Stauffenberg failed, and tens of millions of people went to their deaths in the last nine months of the war, was an unalloyed tragedy.
Buck, Robert (1998). “Die Rezeption des 20. Juli 1944 in der Bundeswehr,” in Gerd R. Ueberschär (ed.), Der 20. Juli: Das “andere Deutschland” in der Vergangenheit. Berlin: Elefanten Press.
Noakes, Jeremy (2000). “Introduction” in Hans Mommsen, Alternatives to Hitler. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Weinberg, Gerhard (1971). “The Plot to Kill Hitler.” Michigan Quarterly Review 10/2: 125-130.
Randall Hansen is the author of "Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance after Valkyrie" (Oxford University Press). He is a Professor of Politics and holds a Research Chair at the University of Toronto.
Disobeying Hitler: ‘Operation Valkyrie’ Sparked German Resistance to the Third Reich
by Jarrett Stepman
20 July 2014
On 20 July 1944 Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a high-ranking German officer who had secretly turned against the Third Reich’s increasingly nihilistic war, conducted a botched attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the Führer’s notorious East Prussian “Wolf’s lair” headquarters. This was supposed to be the first big step in overthrowing the Nazi regime in what became the failed “Operation Valkyrie.”
Stauffenberg had an aide come into the room to tell him he had a call, and then the colonel departed leaving his bomb-filled briefcase behind. When the bomb went off it shattered tables, sent debris and splinters all over the room, and killed four men, but Hitler survived with only minor wounds.
Although this internal, German attempt to stop the Third Reich 70 years ago is the most famous, there were countless other acts of defiance that deserve to have their story told.
Stauffenberg’s plot sets off the narrative of historian Randall Hansen’s new Oxford University Press book, "Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance After Valkyrie", that chronicles the notable to the mostly forgotten German acts of resistance against the Nazis. Stauffenberg’s plan failed and he was quickly caught and executed by the Gestapo secret police, but many of his co-conspirators continued to resist. And there were numerous other incidents of German soldiers and civilians defying Hitler and the Nazi authorities to save lives, cities, and what many believed to be the soul of the German nation.
Hansen describes the fate of Valkyrie’s other conspirators, such as Henning von Tresckow who said to his cousin shortly before committing suicide on the Eastern Front:
"Now everyone will turn upon us and cover us with abuse. But my convictions remain unshaken—we have done the right thing. Hitler is not only the archenemy of Germany; he is the archenemy of the whole world. In a few hours’ time I shall stand before God, answering for my actions and my omissions. I think I shall be able to uphold with a clear conscience all that I have done in my fight against Hitler".
Resistors had different reasons for opposing Hitler, from practical to noble, and "Disobeying Hitler" is an impressive overview of these many acts of defiance outside of the July 20 plot in the Wolf’s Lair.
For instance, Stauffenberg’s coup continued in Paris on that same day. His cousin and co-conspirator, Luftwaffe Oberstlleutnant Cäsar von Hofäcker and his commander General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel, conducted an operation to capture the SS and SD in the city. Shockingly, with the help of a German army security regiment, they were able to round up and arrest over 1,200 SS and SD in Paris without a single shot being fired.
The overthrow of the SS in Paris was a stunning victory that turned out to be short-lived as news broke that Hitler had survived Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt and the Nazi regime quickly regained order.
Hofäcker was eventually arrested and put on trial, which the Nazis thought would be good political theater. Hansen wrote that the “trials were presided over by Roland Freisler, a former Communist who, like few others of his ilk, became a Nazi fanatic.” However, Hofäcker turned the trial into an indictment of the regime by taking aim at the justification of the authoritarian state that trampled on individual rights and stripped people of their humanity.
“The vital point running through all [your] questions is the totalitarian claim of the state over the citizen to the exclusion of his religious and moral obligations towards God,” Hofäcker said to an apoplectic Freisler.
Another conspirator on trial, Hans-Bernd von Häften, was equally forceful in repudiating Nazism. He said, “According to the view I have of the role of the Führer in world history, I assume he is a powerful instrument of evil.”
Of the fascinating accounts that "Disobeying Hitler" highlights is the preservation of Paris when the German army withdrew from France. Although many historians have given credit to German Maj. Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz for disobeying Hitler’s orders to level the city, it was the individual of German soldiers fighting the French resistance, and German military weakness, that ultimately prevented the destruction according to Hansen.
The city was inundated with small arms fire in the final stages of German occupation, but Cholitz and the German soldiers did not bring out the big guns. Hansen wrote that “Paris was sprayed with bullets. Bullets—but not shells".
The book also establishes that not Albert Speer alone (as he claimed) but rather a whole host of generals, officers, and foot soldiers worked together to preserve German industry and infrastructure from Hitler’s insane scorched earth orders.
It shows how complex negotiations, taken under chaotic, unstable, and dangerous conditions, between the Allies, on the one hand, and German officers and civilians (including many women), on the other, determined whether German cities were occupied intact or ravaged by artillery barrages. For the Allies and the Germans, these negotiations meant the difference between life and death.
Besides the larger acts of resistance, Hansen details the smaller acts of disobediance German officers and soldiers undertook on the Eastern and Western fronts, as well as the organized resistance of German citizens. He claims that these actions were important in the eventual rebuilding of Germany. Hansen concluded: “The post-July 20 disobeyers helped ensure that there was a Germany that could be economically, physically, and morally rebuilt. Collectively, they played a great and largely unrecognized role in the recovery of Germany and, therefore, Europe".
"Disobeying Hitler" provides a fantastic and detailed overview of the largely forgotten story of German resistance to the Nazi state and is a great read for the 70th anniversary of Stauffenberg’s daring plot to bring down the authoritarian regime.
As the Allies approached Germany in September 1944, Hitler ordered two responses: defend and, failing that, destroy. The problem with the former was that the German army had already led — and put – exponentially more of its own soldiers to death than it had in World War I; it was running out of manpower.
Hitler responded by increasing the Nazi Party’s control over military strategy and by raising a militia. A 20 September 1944 decree announced that in the event of enemy forces reaching Reich territory, executive power would be transferred from the military commanders to the Reich Defence Commissioners (Reichsverteidigungskommissare), a position previously created by Hitler.
These were the Gauleiter, who were appointed by Hitler and answered to his secretary and chief of the Nazi Party Chancellery, Martin Bormann. In bestowing the title and authority of the Reich Defence Commissioner on most of his Gauleiter, Hitler hoped to establish them as rival commanders to the army. This was a further attempt to extend party influence over the army, and the army leadership was deter- mined to resist it.
A further Führer decree, on 25 September 1944, authorized the creation of what came to be known as the Volkssturm, a militia organized by the Nazi Party from men who were not actively in military service.
The suggestion first came from Heinz Guderian, Chief of the Army General Staff, who wanted permission for the Wehrmacht to form a large militia in eastern Germany to raise manpower to the point where a long, defensive battle against the Soviets could be sustained. Bormann convinced Hitler that a militia under army control would lack the necessary zeal. The September 25 Führer decree granted Bormann control over administrative and organizational matters and Himmler control of military matters.
In practice, however, the Volkssturm came under Bormann’s control. Partly through exploiting the ambiguity in “organization,” and partly through pure guile and determination, Bormann sidelined the SS.
Himmler gave up by December 1944 and noted that the organization had become "an instrument of power for Bormann . . . and the SS had no interest in it". The matter was actually not that clear: although Bormann had the most power, the Gauleiter and Kreisleiter (who answered to Bormann but also retained some independence of action), the Wehrmacht, the SS, and – insofar as he protected labourers from conscription — even Albert Speer had some influence on the deployment of the Volkssturm.
What was clear was that all civilian men between the ages of sixteen and sixty were to be called up, and these ill-trained, badly equipped "soldiers," who had not been drafted into the army for good reasons, were ordered to defend the Fatherland. Army commanders generally thought little of them. Most Volkssturm fired only enough ammunition to get themselves, and less often Allied soldiers, killed, to take out the occasional enemy tank, and to anger the Allies enough to launch an artillery barrage. The latter often heralded the total destruction of Germany’s already ravaged cities.
It was, perversely, a prospect that Hitler welcomed. On those occasions when he would entertain the possibility of defeat, "scorched earth" — the destruction of all public, industrial, and military infrastructure by a retreating army — had been Hitler’s backup plan for all fronts. This continued to hold true even when those fronts withdrew into Germany itself. On 7 September1944, Hitler ordered that a ruthless scorched-earth policy be applied to German territory. Everything was to be destroyed: industrial facilities, bridges, gas distribution systems, waterworks, power plants, museums, theatres, opera houses, and all records.
- Randall Hansen
The Men behind Operation Valkyrie: Role Models or Conspirators and Traitors?
The politicians of "democratic Germany" are trying to give Jewish organizations the impression, that since 8 May 1945 a new German nation emerged, which has absolutely no affinity with previous German generations and the national history of Germany. However, everyone knows that, when a nation has no link with its national history, it becomes an artificial construct without a foundation. Moreover, no nation can function without historical precedents, not even an “artificial nation”. This is why the post-war-anti-Hitler-elite opted for the terrorists of the Twentieth of July 1944 as role models. The reason seems obvious: Whatever was anti Hitler during the era of National Socialism, particularly in the case of the Hitler assassins, must be appropriate for the anti-Hitler politics of the post-war era. Therefore, bring on the July 20 conspirators.
In the same way that the 20 July 1944 conspirators went awry with their intended overthrow of the national socialist regime, the artificial German construct (Federal Republic of Germany) could similarly go awry, if they follow the July 20 terrorist model.
How could terrorists and traitors, like Hitler's would-be assassin, Claus Schenk Count von Stauffenberg, serve as an example for the present day German youth without simultaneously implying to them how to bring down a government, perhaps even by planning a coup against their own government? The German regime persecutes its subjects by using methods in conflict with human rights (§ 130 Penal Code) leaving Germany to be colonized by masses of foreigners. This makes the regime vulnerable and Stauffenberg could rapidly become a role model as to how to bring down the BRD regime in the future.
If one compares Stauffenberg’s nationalistic convictions with the anti-nationalist ideology of the present leading clique of the BRD elite, one could definitely present him as a shining example, a spiritual leading figure of the national resistance against the BRD politics.
However, based solely on his betrayal and criminal act, Stauffenberg distinguished himself as the archetype and paragon for anti-nationalist German youth to follow. Of course they could have been anti Adolf Hitler, but the opposition did not have the support of the people in 1944. Worse still, the enemy powers refused to have binding negotiations with Stauffenberg for the purpose of continuing the existence of the Reich.
"Hitler's death would have put the Allies in a difficult position and their diplomatic skills would have been put to test. In the end they would still have insisted on unconditional capitulation. They regarded Hitler not only as evil, but as the representative of the army and the old German elite, whom the Allies wanted to eliminate … Even if the last phase of the war, fought without Hitler, had turned out differently - the members of the conspirator-led German government of the 20th of July would still have had to accept complete defeat." (Ian Kershaw, British historian, "Stern" 9/2005).
The powers warring against Germany would have demanded that unconditional surrender from Stauffenberg and his conspirators, both on the Eastern as on the Western front. This cynical and brutal attitude alone ought to have prevented the conspirators from stabbing the heroically fighting nation in the back.
The enemy powers wanted nothing less than the annihilation of the German nation which, under Hitler, had become a bitter enemy of emerging globalisation. This was the real cause of war.
"We have to be honest regarding the German question, even if it may be uncomfortable for the Germans, our international partners and for ourselves. ... In essence the question remains the same. It is not about how to prevent German tanks from crossing the Oder or the Marne, but rather about how Europe is going to cope by letting a nation, whose numbers, talents and efficiency destine it to become a regional superpower. We did not enter the war in 1939 to save Germany from Hitler, or the Jews from Auschwitz, or the European continent from fascism. As in 1914 we entered the war for the ignoble reason that we could not permit German predominance in Europe." ("The Sunday Correspondent", London, 16.09.1989, quoted by DWZ, 05.04.1996)
People love the betrayal, however no one likes the traitor. Even Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of the BRD, was contemptuous of these traitors of Operation Valkyrie and saw to it that members of this group could not obtain government positions.
"Chancellor Konrad Adenauer foiled the reappointment of Erich Kordt, a diplomat who belonged to the opposition, from obtaining a post in the foreign office with the justification that he had already deceived his boss once." ("Der Spiegel", 29/2004)
Always true to his oath and to the German people the German war hero Otto Ernst Remer, then Major on leave from the front, was on 20 July 1944 in charge of the “Berliner Wachbataillon” (sentry battalion). Remer later became the legendary hero of the “Führer Armoured Division” as Major-General. On the day of the plot, Remer crushed the amateurish and cowardly implemented Valkyrie Putsch. Remer was, and remained until his final days, an uncompromising fighter against terrorism and force, as proved by his consistent action on the day of the Putsch and by his post-war writings. In his book "Conspiracy and Betrayal around Hitler" he characterises Stauffenberg as follows:
"At any rate it was definitely possible for Stauffenberg to shoot Hitler and then finish himself off. He could have taken advantage of the great confusion. However, he preferred to let others die and he recklessly dragged innumerable fellow conspirators with him into misery. Hardly a role model for future generations of soldiers. This is why I did not find it appropriate during a visit to post war Berlin to view the memorial plaque in the court of Bendlerblocks … What did really happen and what did not happen? Which mistakes did those in charge make? Most importantly, the prerequisite for the success of the overthrow was not fulfilled, the death of Hitler, the one person to whom all others had sworn allegiance. No, Hitler stood there in front of the barracks, injured yet alive. Stauffenberg, would have had proof of this fact if he had only waited another minute.
"He would still have had the opportunity to personally shoot Hitler. He could have used the resulting confusion. ... The assassination attempt involved murder of innocent comrades of Stauffenberg. The stenograph, Dr. Berger was torn apart by the bomb, General Korten, General Schmundt and Colonel Brandt died as a result of wounds suffered by the explosion of Stauffenberg's bomb - placed under the table. Why did not Stauffenberg draw his pistol? If only to save his own precious life, which he lost anyway a few hours later? That could have been seen as courageous and exemplary. Instead he drew hundreds of his companions to their ruin."
A murderer of his comrades as a role model? This kind of contradiction undoubtedly spells the demise of German Holocaust politics sooner or later. BRD politicians, are seriously alienated from the German people and try by all means at their disposal to portray the nationalistic resistance fighters of the 20th July as their anti-German spiritual relatives. But the men involved in the revolt of 20 July 1944 were all staunch Nation Socialists, who fought for the continuation of the German nation inside the borders claimed by Hitler, as due to them according to international law. Whereas the New German BRD leaders would like nothing better than to dissolve Germany altogether. They fight doggedly for an un-definable European mish-mash, which will bury Germany under an avalanche of sewerage before long. The conspirators of Operation Valkyrie had in fact no political concept that diametrically opposed Hitler’s politics. They fought against Hitler, basically because the situation at the front had deteriorated for Germany and they felt the leadership of the Reich ought to be in the hands of the aristocracy and not left to the fate of a “mere corporal”. Hitler, in their opinion, was not successful enough; this and no other was their motive.
Count Stauffenberg and his fellow terrorists were Anti-Democrats and Anti-Semites. Their worldview did not differ from Adolf Hitler’s philosophy:
"Among the conspirators against Hitler there were only a few democrats, but certainly anti Semites and quite a few War criminals. Many of them had on occasion dreamt of grabbing World power … Most of the conspirators had a neutral or even benevolent attitude toward National Socialism. The termination of the war was the main objective (of the conspirators), not to establish a democracy." ("Der Spiegel", 29/2004)
"Stauffenberg was 25 years old when Hitler came to power and he dreamed of a thousand-year empire, which his idol, the Rhenish poet, Stefan George, proclaimed in which he saw himself as a member of a new Elite. A National rebirth, instead of the 'humiliation of Versailles'- Adolf Hitler's foreign policy successes dazzled Stauffenberg. 'What changes in so short a time', he enthused over Hitler’s victories in Poland and France in 1939- 1940. In a letter to his wife from occupied Poland the charismatic officer, for whom many predicted a brilliant career, wrote mockingly about the incredible lowlife, about the very many Jews and the much mixed population. 'A people who love the feel of the whip. The thousands of prisoners will be of great benefit for our agriculture.' ["Der Spiegel", 29/2004]
The conspirators' motive in attempting to kill Hitler was not to establish, so called, democracy or institute privileges for the Jews. No, on the basis of the adverse turn of events of the war, they wanted to save greater Germany. They believed that, if they offered the Allies new heads of state, they would be able to continue just where Hitler left off:
"After the collapse of German hopes of a quick victory against the Soviet Union at the end of 1941, Stauffenberg's attitude changed. ...Yet almost the entire resistance viewed Parliaments and Parties with great distrust. … Even on May the 25th of 1944 Gördeler still declared he wanted to secure part of Hitler's loot for Germany, for example, the Sudetenland." ["Der Spiegel", 29/2004]
The term "loot" comes from DER SPIEGEL as part of their hate and lying propaganda. The Sudetenland has always been German land. The Sudetenland was, in breach of international law, confiscated by Poland post WW1.
When we compare the thoroughly Nationalist conspirators to the anti-nationalist politicians who practice their political misdeeds in the now dishonoured Reichstag, we unjustly insult the memory of the dead. Regarding this fact the failed Jewish leader, Igantz Bubis, stated in 1994 in his newspaper "Allgemeine Jüdische Wochenzeitung" [14.7.1994]:
"The assassination attempt on Hitler was not a 'Revolt of conscience' but rather a last minute panic ... Whatever happened in the Wolfschanze [The Wolf's Lair], or rather did not happen, remains on the sidelines of history, irrelevant to the flow of history, of no consequence for the end of the Third Reich and of no importance for the survival of National Socialism in the minds of the German people".
Bubis was right, as the conspirators had nothing in common with the unnatural tendencies of the new German political league, who wallow with pleasure in the propaganda sewer of the Israel lobby. On the contrary, nationalist politics regarding the Jews were, in principle, welcomed by Stauffenberg and his fellow conspirators. We can read the following about Carl Friedrich Gördeler, who would have become Chancellor, had the assassination succeeded:
"Gördeler was well aware of the Jews as an 'alien element' and he wanted to retain 'the law of the restructuring of career public servants', from 7 April 1933, which removed Jews from the German public (civil) service. 'On the other hand', as Gördeler puts it, 'he (the Jew) enjoys the same privileges as any other foreigner, who lives in Germany, with or without wealth'." ["Die Welt", 16.7.1994)
The opponents, who are now presented as role models for our youth, by present day standards were dyed-in-the-wool anti Semites and upright National Socialists. So many, who are totally fed up with being dictated to by the Israel Lobby and with Germany being the Holocaust-Industry milking cow, will say let us follow these role models.
How do anti-German politicians in the alienated Reichstag portray their strange concept of Democracy in the future, when young German people are becoming more and more marginalized in their own country by masses of culturally alien intruders. How can they possibly bridge the gap in their persecution democracy, where on the one hand patriotically thinking people fill the jails while on the other hand they offer hard-core Nationalists and convinced anti-Semites as their role models? The newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau" reports to the topic on 20.07.1994:
"History Teachers ....have discovered a new right wing radicalism. The resistance against Hitler is seen as an 'anti-modern movement', as after all Hitler modernized Germany greatly."
Stauffenberg died on the 20 July 1944. He was shot by his cowardly fellow-conspirators in the Bendler-Block, who hoped that by murdering their comrade, they might cover up their own involvement and save their miserable lives. In the face of death Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg in the end did become a hero, a hero of the German Nation, who at times had erred. Facing the execution squad he proclaimed his last words: "Long live our Holy Germany." ["Der Spiegel", 29/2004]