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Stauffenberg’s 20 July plot at the Wolfschanze.

01-04-2018

On 20 July 1944, an attempt was made to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Führer of Nazi Germany, perpetrated by Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg

  and other conspirators, inside his Wolf’s Lair field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia. The name Operation Valkyrie, originally referring to a component part of the conspirators’ overall plot, has become associated with the event. The apparent purpose of the assassination attempt was to seize political control of Germany and its armed forces from the Nazi Party (including the SS) in order to obtain peace with the western Allies as soon as possible. The underlying desire of many of the involved high ranking Wehrmacht officers was apparently to show to the world that not all Germans were like Hitler and the Nazi Party. The details of the conspirators’ peace initiatives remain unknown, but they likely would have included demands to accept wide-reaching territorial annexations by Germany in Europe.

The plot was the culmination of the efforts by several groups in the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi-led German government. The failure of both the assassination and the military coup d’état which was planned to follow, led to the arrest of at least 7.000 people by the Gestapo. According to records of the Führer Conferences on Naval Affairs, 4.980 of these were executed after trials by Roland Freisler..

 

 

wpe669283c_01_06 On 18 July 1944 rumors reached Stauffenberg that the Gestapo had wind of the conspiracy and that he might be arrested at any time—this was apparently not true, but there was a sense that the net was closing in and that the next opportunity to kill Hitler must be taken because there might not be another. At 10:00 on 20 July Stauffenberg flew back to the Wolfsschanze for another Hitler military conference, with two British bombs in his briefcase.

The conference took place in the wooden main room of Wolf’s Lair instead of the underground concrete bunker due to the hot weather. At around 12:30 as the conference began, Stauffenberg made an excuse to use a washroom in Wilhelm Keitel‘s  office where he used pliers to crush the end of a pencil detonator inserted into a 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) block of plastic explosive wrapped in brown paper, that was prepared by Wessel von Freytag-Loringhoven . Loringhoven committed suicide at Mauerwald in East Prussia age 42 on 26-07-1944..

Stauffenberg prepared the bomb which was slow going due to war wounds that had cost von Stauffenberg an eye, his right hand, and two fingers on his left hand. Interrupted by a guard knocking on the door to hurry up.

As Stauffenberg was disabled following the loss of his right hand and two fingers from his left hand, Major Ernst John von Freyend

 , adjutant to Wilhelm Keitel, offered to carry it for him. Von Freyend survived the explosion and died age 70 on 24-03-1980. Von Stauffenberg at first refused, but then relented upon approaching the conference room and he asked von Freyend to put him as near as possible to Hitler so that ‘I catch everything the Führer says for my briefing afterwards’. Freyend placed the briefcase by the conference map table to the right of General Adolf Heusinger who was standing next to Hitler and Stauffenberg adjusted its position. However, After a few minutes, von Stauffenberg received a planned telephone call and left the room. Heinz Brandt, wanting to get a closer look at a map on the table, re-positioned the briefcase farther away from Hitler on the other side of a thick table leg, thus unwittingly deflecting the blast from Hitler but causing his own death with the loss of one of his legs when the bomb detonated. Seven minutes later, between 12:40 and 12:50 the bomb exploded, demolishing the conference room. Three officers and the stenographer were seriously injured and died soon after. Hitler survived, as did everyone else who was shielded from the blast by the conference table leg Grafik_-_Lagebesprechung_Wolfsschanze,_20._Juli_1944. Hitler’s trousers were singed and tattered 04-German-officer-holds-tattered-remains-of-uniform-worn-by-one-of-Hitlers-top-officers-after-failed-assassination-20.7.44-222x300 and he suffered from a perforated eardrum, as did most of the other 24 people in the room. Had the second block of explosive been used, it is probable that everyone present would have been killed. More then twenty were injured, a ten seriously and only 4 were killed in the room. Generaloberst Günther Korten A black-and-white photograph of a smiling man in a military uniform.  age 45, stenographer Dr. Heinrich Berger

Berger, Heinrich wolfsschanze-jung_1437325258 age 39, Oberst Heinz Jürgen Brandt , age 37, Aide de camp to General Adolf Heusinger and General Rudolf Schmundt 

Schmundt, Rudolf   age 48, Chief of the Army Staff Office.

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