The Berlin Spectator
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Germany Commemorates Men Behind 1944 Attempt to Kill Hitler

Germany’s Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer and Berlin’s Governing Mayor Müller were part of a commemoration event for Graf von Stauffenberg and his allies today. The Wehrmacht soldiers tried to overthrow the Nazi regime in 1944.

On July 20th, 1944, the most important attempt to overthrow the Nazi regime took place. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, an officer in the Wehrmacht, was a central figure in the attempt to kill Adolf Hitler at his ‘Wolfsschanze‘ headquarters 76 years ago today, on July 20th, 1944.

Hitler Survives Assassination Attempt

The resistance group Graf von Stauffenberg was part of included people with very different backgrounds, including staunch antisemites and war criminals some of whom were responsible for murdering Jews and Gypsies in terrible massacres, but also participants with a clearer conscience, as far as that was possible in the war Nazi Germany terrorized most of Europe with.

For several reasons, the July 20th coup failed. First of all, the group did not manage to kill Hitler. The dictator was lucky, since a massive strut under a massive wooden map table prevented the explosive charge to hit him. Several officers, who were standing around the briefcase with a bomb which Graf von Stauffenberg had placed there, were killed, others injured.

Caught and Executed

Another reason for the failure was the fact that the resistance group mostly consisting of high-ranking military personnel hesitated too long before the decision to go ahead with the other part of the July 20th plot, namely the ‘Operation Valkyrie’, was taken. The latter was supposed to lead to the overthrow of the Nazi regime.

Graf von Stauffenberg and several other plotters were caught and shot in the yard of the ‘Bendlerblock’ building in Berlin, hours after Hitler survived the bomb explosion. The Nazi regime used the building as its General Army Office. Today it is the Ministry of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany.

‘We Will Never Forget their Legacy’

At today’s commemoration event in Berlin, Kramp-Karrenbauer stated, von Stauffenberg and his allies had had the courage to stand up for what was right, even though they had known that the decision could lead to their own deaths.

The resistance fighters had failed with their undertaking, the Defense Minister said, but their actions had become meaningful to the Federal Republic of Germany, after WWII. The Nazi regime had killed them, “but not their stance”, Kramp-Karrenbauer said. “We will never forget their legacy.”

Eighty-Nine People Executed at Plötzensee

Governing Mayor Michael Müller said the lesson was that resistance against wrong had been possible even under difficult conditions. He said everyone who had rebelled against the Nazi dictatorship needed to be commemorated. Müller called on Berliners to oppose proponents of antisemitism and other inhuman ideologies even more. “Freedom and democracy are not self-evident”, Müller said.

Because of Corona, no guests took part in the ceremony at the Plötzensee Memorial for the inmates of the jail that used to be there. After the plot to overthrow Hitler and the regime, the Nazis executed 89 people at that location.

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