Germans against Hitler: Claus von Stauffenberg

We took this challenge before our Lord and our conscience, and it must be done, because this man, Hitler, he is the ultimate evil.
Claus von Stauffenberg  

July 20, 1944 is an important date in history. It is the date of the failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. It was by no means the only attempt but it is, perhaps, the most famous because the plot was the most far reaching. It is also the date that Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader, and other plotters were executed.  Each year on this date there is a memorial ceremony in Berlin.  

“Every year, on July 20, the Memorial to German Resistance, located at the military building complex in Berlin known as the Bendlerblock, commemorates the few Germans who had the courage to go against Hitler and the Nazi regime. Taking place in the courtyard of the building complex at which the museum is located, the ceremony serves as a reminder of the events that occurred there on the night of July 20, 1944, when a firing squad executed military officers involved in the plot: Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, First Lieutenant Werner von Haeften, General Friedrich Olbricht, and Colonel Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim.”

On July 20th we should contemplate the courage to oppose tyranny. 


12 thoughts on “Germans against Hitler: Claus von Stauffenberg

  1. We should contemplate that, but we should also get our history right. The motivation conspirators around Stauffenberg was not to oppose tyranny, as is the popular belief. Rather, they percieved correctly that the war was lost, and that Hitler was determined to take Germany down with him. To avoid this, they planned to stage a coup, after which they were going to petition the Allies for an armistice immediately in order to avert further hardship from their beloved German nation. Alas, they did not succeed.

  2. You are no doubt right about the motives of most of the plotters. But I was under the impression that Claus and his brother were genuinely appalled by the atrocities caused by the Hitler regime. They seemed to have had a religious motivation as well.

  3. Yes, Claus was appalled by Hitler’s atrocities, as any sentient human being with a moral compass, and certainly a good Catholic and Prussian officer, would have been. He was not appalled by his authoritarian style of government and his nationalistic jingoism, both of which he rather agreed with.

    Even so, after having witnessed mass murders against Ukranians, Russians and Jews, he did not break his oath of fealty to the Fuhrer until the destruction of Germany as a nation seemed inevitable.

    He did have a solid set of values, and the firmness of his convictions is admirable, but some of his values we’d better do without in this 21st century.

  4. What is equally telling in this type of story is the fact that there were so few serious attempts to kill Hitler.

    And so few acts of real courage in resisting or opposing the system, with exceptions such as the young students who were part of the small group known as the “White Rose.”

    Another telling fact is that the Gestapo represented a rather small percentage of the population over which they had power. In 1944, the Gestapo employed between 25,000-30,000 people out of a total German population of around 80 million. Yet, they were sufficient to assure obedience, and generate a wide array of informers within Germany. Some were intimidated or threatened. But at least 25 percent of all cases of informers turning in others did so “voluntarily.”

    And in the case of the Soviet Union, there seems to have been virtually no attempts to kill Stalin. Even admitting the ruthlessness and power of the NKVD (later the KGB), this is even more amazing than in the case of Hitler. This is especially amazing considering that Stalin was fully in power from 1928 to 1953, and killed far more of the people of his own State than Hitler killed Germans as “enemies of the people” — thus, likely to arouse more anger and desire for revenge among the domestic population.

    One of the most interesting analysis of the types and potentials of resistance to the totalitarian state is Vaclav Havel’s essay, “The Power of the Powerless,” written during communist times in Czechoslovakia.

    Richard Ebeling

  5. Absolutely, and I am not criticizing him or the others here, just the myth that has been built around them, where they are cast in the role of defenders of liberal democracy.

  6. What about Stalin’s purges? Was there no truth at all to a revolt amongst military officers?

  7. There is no serious evidence of any organized attempt to plan to kill Stalin by military officers leading up to the Great Purges of the 1930s.

    These were all fictitious creations of Stalin’s and the NKVD.

    Stalin saw conspiracies where they did not exist. And he learned the Purge technique from Hitler.

    Shortly after Hitler’s “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934, during which Hitler violently did away with the threat that he saw in the SA, or Brown Shirts, Stalin came into a meeting of the Politburo in the Kremlin with a copy of that days “Pravda” with a front page story about Hitler’s purge.

    Stalin, according to the minutes of the meeting, said, “That Hitler certainly knows how to take care of his opponents.” (This is recounted in Robert Tucker’s “Stalin in Power.”)

    Soon Stalin was hatching the plan that in December of 1934 because the assassination of Kirov in Leningrad, and the setting in motion of the start of the waves of purges of military officers, intellectuals, “foreign spies,” “wreckers” of the five-year plans, “enemies of the people,” and many of the other leaders and senior figures of the Communist Party and the Central Committee.

    Stalin would sit behind a curtain at the more important of the purge trials following the script (from behind the curtain could be seen the puffs of smoke from his pipe) in which the defendants would admit their guilt and betrayal of the socialist revolution, and ask for the only justifiable punishment — their own execution.

    Those were often the days when Stalin seemed to be in the best humor.

    Stalin once said in the 1920s, “To choose one’s victim, to prepare one’s plans minutely, to slake on implacable vengeance, and then to go to bed. There is nothing sweeter in the world.”

    Richard Ebeling

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