Bernardis, Robert.

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Bernardis, Robert, born 07-08-1908, in Innsbruck, Innsbruck Stadt, Tyrol (Tirol), Austria, into a typical old Austrian military family. Even his grandfather worked in the naval port of Pula Pula as a ship’s carpenter, his father worked his way up to civil engineer in the military and was involved in the construction of the fortresses in South Tyrol and the construction of the cadet school in Vienna. When his father was transferred, the family moved from Innsbruck to Linz, where Robert and his older brother Friedrich grew up.

Married to Hermine Feichtinger, with whom he had two children,   and after finishing the military academy in Enns and Klosterneuburg Austria, Bernardis started his military career as a leutnant in Linz. After the Anschluss in March 1938, the merging with Nazi Germany, was celebrated enthusiastically by the Austrians ?? Robert accepted the new regime, but remained critical. However, once the Second World War had begun, experiences at the front such as witnessing the murder of civilians changed his mind and he became involved in the resistance movement against the Third Reich. The annexation could count on fairly general support from the Austrian population and was prepared by the Austrian Nazi Party. The annexation was effected by an invasion of German troops, but no shots were fired.

Robert Bernardis was regarded as a staunch National Socialist during his training as a career military officer in the Austrian army and at the War Academy in Berlin. After seeing action in Poland, France, and the Soviet Union, Bernardis was promoted to Major in 1942 and transferred to the Allgemeines Heeresamt (General Army Office) of the Army High Command in Berlin, where he headed a department. In the winter of 1943 as a Oberstleutnant of the General Staff, his duties brought him into contact with Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. In the spring of 1944, he was included in the plans for a military coup. Bernardis prepared the coup in military district XVII (Vienna). On July 20, 1944, he was with Stauffenberg as a member of the staff of the General Army Office where he was responsible for relaying the “Valkyrie” orders. He was not stationed near Hitler’s headquarters at Wolfsschanze near Rastenburg when the 20 July assassination attempt was carried out, but was instead in Berlin. Bernadis was unaware that the bomb had not killed Hitler and was responsible for the order that initiated Operation Valkyrie. Bernardis was arrested that same evening. Bernardis was to lay the groundwork for the operation in Vienna. This preparatory work, carried out in collaboration with Major Carl Szokoll, was so successful that it – despite the failure of the assassination attempt and in contrast to other military districts –actually worked as planned. Carl Szokoll (born 15-10-1915) was an Austrian resistance fighter involved in the 20 July Plot, major in the Wehrmacht, and, after the war, author and film producer. He survived the war and died 25-08-2004 (aged 88) in Vienna, Austria.

Death and burial ground from Bernardis, Robert.

  It was an ultimately fatal venture that Robert Bernardis took up, planned by mostly noble career officers, ingrained and socialized in the system of command and obedience. Carried out in a leader state that knew no right of resistance. It was supposed to be an uprising of “another Germany”: the initiation of self-liberation from the Nazi reign of terror in order to end the Second World War and then be able to return to the circle of civilized nations. For Bernardis as well as for Claus von Stauffenberg and everyone else involved in the coup, this meant the separation of what had previously been symbiotically connected: the military oath and pledge of allegiance to Adolf Hitler  and National Socialism. After July 20, 1944, the Wehrmacht was to become a citizen army again and no longer an ideological weapon in wars of conquest and annihilation. The military opponents of the regime had recognized over the course of the war that the oath of allegiance had long since given way to obedience, which no longer earned honor. Despite being deported to a concentration camp, Bernardis’s family survived the war. Hermine Bernardis, the wife of Robert Bernardis, came with her mother to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in August 1944, Ravensbrück from which they were released after a little more than a month. She then lived in Linz until her death, where she died on 03-11-2009 at the age of almost 100 years.

On 08-08-1944, the People’s Court under jurist Roland Freisler

sentenced him to death,

and he, age 36, was murdered, on the guillotine , the same day in Berlin-Plötzensee. Robert, Bernardis was buried at the Plötzensee prison cemetery in an anonymously grave like all Plötzensee victims.

It is a fact that many hundreds of thousands of the 7,000,000 Austrian inhabitants were with the Waffen SS and were much more brutal and fanatical in battle than their German counterparts, and many Austrians were primarily responsible for the holocaust., About approximately 700,000 Austrians were members of the NSDAP. Adolf Hitler himself was a Austrian.and as the war ended they didn’t want to talk anymore about this behavior. Many Austrians associate the liberation mainly with clearing rubble, hunger, scarcity, illegal trade, a housing shortage and uncertainty about a possible status as an Eastern Bloc country. Victims of bombings were buried in the parks, vegetable gardens were laid out and dairy cows were allowed to graze. In addition, half a million Austrians were prisoners of war and 247,000 Wehrmacht soldiers were considered missing. Those who came home from the front or the (Siberian) camps were often traumatized. “Austria has nothing to make amends for, because it has done nothing wrong,” said Trade Minister Ernst Kolb in 1946. In such a climate, Jews and other victims were not welcome; after all, they could break this myth.

Despite attempts at denazification, in 1947 some 71 percent of the population stated that Austria was not to blame for World War II. And that view was actually the common one, until the scandal in 1986 surrounding President Kurt Waldheim. Waldheim had failed to mention that he had been an SA officer and insisted that he had only done his duty. This has resonated with younger generations, who are now dismantling the victim myth.

Although the masses had cheered Adolf Hitler on Heldenplatz in 1938 and many Austrians were responsible for the Holocaust, the myth persisted in the country that Austria was Hitler’s Germany’s first victim in World War II. But in post-war Austria, the doors were closed to Jews and former Nazis were rehabilitated en masse

World War II was an unprecedentedly brutal war. Just as brutal and barbaric as the wars Europe had known during the Middle Ages. Sometimes fighting was done with knife and shovel: man against man. Millions of Jews, about 6 million, were murdered by Nazis in and outside concentration camps by gas and bullets (the “death by bullets”). That “final solution” (Final Solution) was part of Nazi politics. The large-scale and systematic murder of Jews is called the Holocaust. In terms of losses, the Soviet Union suffered the most losses: between 26 and 40 million dead. More deaths than all inhabitants of the Netherlands put together. Great Britain, France and America also suffered many losses. America lost 419,400 soldiers, Britain about 450,900 people (civilians and soldiers) and France 600,000 people (civilians and soldiers). Hitler’s Germany had about 6.9 to 7.4 million deaths (civilians and soldiers). It is clear that the Soviet Union made the greatest sacrifice. The leader of the Soviet Union, dictator Joseph Stalin, stated that one death is a tragedy, thousands or millions dead is a statistic. It is difficult for the human mind to imagine so many deaths. Never war again. May we never forget those who gave us freedom and died for our freedom. y native country the Netherlands with number of inhabitants 8.729.000 had 7.900 homeland military casualties, 88.900 civilian casualties, Jewish Holocaust victims 102.00, a total of 198.800.


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