Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg – foto Wikipedia
‘A coward dies a thousand deaths… a soldier dies but once’
Commemorations in Berlin today marked the anniversary of the failed plot to assassinate the cunning-coward Hitler.
The ceremonies began with a church service at the ‘Ploetzensee Memorial Center’ – formally a Berlin prison and the site of nearly 3,000 executions – direct victims of the Nazi regime.
The attempt on the life of the Nazi leader on July 20th 1944 was the belated result and culmination of years of plotting by various circles in the Germany army which never seemed to be able to turn their revulsion of Nazi crimes into concrete action to overthrow the morally corrupt Nazi regime.
The timing in July 1944 was significant – the higher echelons of the army had now realized that the time of the Hitlerite disaster was over.
Firstly the hugely successful strategic Soviet offense of ‘Operation Bagration’ mounted by the Red Army which started in on 22nd of June 1944 and cleared German forces from the Belorussian SSR and eastern Poland , caused 550,000 German casualties – of which 150, 000 deaths- was a military defeat on a scale even greater than those suffered at Stalingrad and Kursk.
Secondly the successful allied landings in France meant that a Germany, already greatly weakened had no chance to survive a two front war.
On July 20th, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg planted an explosive device in a briefcase inside Hitler’s field headquarters near Rastenberg in what was then East Prussia – now Poland.
The briefcase was placed just under a heavy oak table in a room where Hitler and a small coterie of Nazi military lackeys were holding a meeting.
Hitler escaped the explosion with his life - many of his ‘yes-men’ were present when the bomb detonated – however, very unfortunately one of the table’s heavy supports protected Hitler from the powerful explosion, leaving him almost completely unscathed but killing four others.
Stauffenberg managed to fly back to Berlin and attempted a poorly managed military coup, but along with other accused co-conspirators was executed in the courtyard of the’ Bendler Block’ building – the HQ where the resistance had thought to initiate the post-assassination coup.
Defense Minister zu Guttenberg and the President of the ‘Bundesrat’ Boehrnsen attended another earlier ceremony today, which included laying of wreaths at this same ’Bendler Block’ site.
At yet a third ceremony over 400 soldiers in Germany’s armed forces gave a pledge of allegiance in front of the Reichstag, the German parliament – a service or ritual which has been performed every year on this day since 2008 to honor the heros who organized the plot.
There is a case to be made for the attitude which was officially taken by the DDR towards this plot against Hitler – namely that it mainly consisted of prominent opportunistic members of Germany’s ruling elite who themselves supported Hitler until such time that they saw he was going to lose the war- and then they ‘put the boot in’ - and not a minute before then!
This was certainly the case regarding Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, a complete reactionary right-wing type who it seems was directly involved in the ‘Freikorps’ assassinations of both Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht as early as 1919.
However poorly, however mismanaged and amateurish the plotters went about their coup attempt, it cannot be denied that we owe them a great deal of respect for their bravery – for their incompetence they paid with their own lives.
We do well to honour them and remember them.
‘A coward dies a thousand deaths… a soldier dies but once’ – Ceremonies mark anniversary of ‘July 20th’plot’ to wipe-out coward Hitler -’OTA-Berlin Constituency Blog’ commentary from OTA Berlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License. If you use this article or parts of it, please refer to http://www.ota-berlin.de.
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