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July 19, 2017

July 20, 1944 Valkyrie — the bomb plot against Hitler

Filed under: Germany, movies, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:38 am

On July 20th, 1944 there was a famous assignation attempt against Adolf Hitler.

The five minute video clip above, which is from a Tom Cruz movie, is a fairly accurate reenactment of the incident.  Many people have objected to the casting of Tom Cruz, in the role of the much taller Claus Schenk, Graf von Stauffenberg, but Tom Cruz looks remarkably like Claus Schenk.

There is virtually nothing in Valkyrie, the movie, which shows what ordinary life was like in Germany in July 1944. There are no extras playing the part of a German Fräulein wearing a dirndl; no Germans drinking beer and singing in a beer garden. There is nothing to indicate that the action is taking place in Germany.

Another movie, Revolutionary Road, which was released around the same time, is authentic 1950s America, right down to the smallest detail.

The only scene in Valkyrie that comes close to showing Germany, as it was in 1943, is when Stauffenberg goes to Hitler’s home called the Berghof to get his signature on a document.

We see the famous picture window that looks out on the Bavarian Alps. Hitler’s henchmen are gathered around him at the Berghof and Albert Speer can be identified: there is a bit player who bears a resemblance to him.

BerghofWindow.jpg

The Berghof and surroundings were bombed by the RAF right before the end of the war on April 25, 1945 — it was done out of spite: the area was of no strategic importance at that point.

The famous picture window before it was destroyed 

Hitler is accurately shown in the movie as a broken man, petting his dog, an Alsatian Sheppard. One bit of information that I didn’t know until I saw this movie, many years ago, is that Stauffenberg put in his glass eye whenever he was in the presence of Hitler. He obviously wanted Hitler to have a good opinion of him; in the scene at the Berghof, Hitler says that he wishes that all his Army officers were like Stauffenberg.

In the trailers for the movie, that were shown for weeks before the movie opened, there is a brief scene where someone kills a mosquito with the lit end of a cigarette. Undoubtedly, there were many people who thought that this was a cruel act committed by Hitler, but there was a German guard at Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair headquarters in East Prussia, who actually killed a mosquito on his arm with a lit cigarette.

The Wolf’s Lair was located on swampy ground and that’s why there were mosquitoes. This scene may have been included by the film makers before they learned that Hitler didn’t smoke. In any case, the scene is totally out of context and has no relevance to the movie plot.

On July 20, 1944, an attempt to assassinate Hitler, which had been planned for years by groups which included former political prisoners who had been released from Sachsenhausen, was made by Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, an insider on Hitler’s staff. One of those involved in the planning was a former Sachsenhausen political prisoner, Julius Leber, a Social Democrat.

The plan was for the political prisoners at Sachsenhausen, including Schuschnigg and the trade union leader, Carl Vollmerhaus, to take over important positions in the German government after Hitler was dead.

According to Information Leaflet Number 20, which I obtained from the Sachsenhausen Memorial Site:

As one of the first measures for the “restoration of the supreme majesty of the law,” the conspirators wanted the concentration camps closed down. For this reason, the “immediate measures” of the July 20, 1944 plan included the occupation of the concentration camps, the arrest of the commandants and the disarming of the guards by the military. But this never happened.

The assassination attempt failed when someone moved the briefcase containing a bomb, which Col. von Stauffenberg had planted near Hitler’s feet. Von Stauffenberg had left the room before the time bomb went off, and had returned to Berlin where a group of high-ranking German army officers were planning to proclaim martial law, after the announcement of the death of Hitler, and take control of the government. The bomb went off, but Hitler survived the blast with only minor injuries.

According to the Information Leaflet, some of the conspirators arrested immediately after the assassination attempt are believed to have been taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, including Field Marshall Erwin von Witzleben.

Some of the conspirators who were seriously injured or sick, or who had tried to escape arrest by suicide or had become ill while imprisoned, were sent to the well-equipped infirmary barracks at Sachsenhausen where they were kept alive for further interrogations or until they could be put on trial in the People’s Court.

One of the conspirators who was brought to the Sachsenhausen infirmary with severe injuries was Colonel Siegfried Wagner, who had jumped out the window of his apartment in Potsdam on July 22, 1944 in an attempt to escape arrest; he died in the infirmary four days later.

Colonel Carl-Hans von Hardenberg, who was slated to become the head of the state of Berlin-Brandenberg after the takeover by the conspirators, was also taken to Sachsenhausen with severe injuries after he attempted suicide to escape arrest. He was one of the survivors of Sachsenhausen, thanks to a Communist fellow-prisoner, Flor Peeters, who took care of him.

Another conspirator, Lieutenant Colonel Hasso von Boehmer, was brought to the infirmary at Sachsenhausen, so that he could be kept alive long enough for the People’s Court in Potsdam to sentence him to death and execute him.

Only a few of the many conspirators, who were involved in the July 20th plot, were tried in the People’s Court; the others were sent directly to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp without a trial. Only a few of the many conspirators, who were involved in the July 20th plot, were tried in the People’s Court; the others were sent directly to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp without a trial.

Randolph von Breidbach, a resistance fighter against the Nazis, was arrested in 1943 and tried by the Reich War Court; although he was found not guilty by the court, he was held in prison until February 1945 when he was transferred to the Sachsenhausen infirmary, where he stayed behind when the camp was evacuated two months later. He died on June 13, 1945 in Sachsenhausen and was buried in a mass grave behind the infirmary barracks.

On July 30, 1944, ten days after the assassination attempt by von Stauffenberg, Hitler ordered that the family members of von Stauffenberg be arrested as “kinship prisoners.” A total of 180 relatives, mostly wives and children, were arrested in August 1944 and imprisoned at Sachsenhausen in the special section of brick buildings located outside the prison enclosure, called the “Schuschnigg barracks.” This was where former Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg was held, along with his wife and child, until he was transferred to Dachau in 1945.

 

Auf der Heide blüht ein kleines Blümelein

Filed under: Germany, Language, Music, Uncategorized, World War II — Tags: — furtherglory @ 11:19 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erika_(song)

Auf der Heide blüht ein kleines Blümelein
und das heißt: Erika.
Heiß von hunderttausend kleinen Bienelein
wird umschwärmt Erika
denn ihr Herz ist voller Süßigkeit,
zarter Duft entströmt dem Blütenkleid.
Auf der Heide blüht ein kleines Blümelein
und das heißt: Erika.

On the heath, there blooms a little flower
and it’s called Erika.
Eagerly a hundred thousand little bees,
swarm around Erika.
For her heart is full of sweetness,
a tender scent escapes her blossom-gown.
On the heath, there blooms a little flower
and it’s called Erika.

In der Heimat wohnt ein kleines Mägdelein
und das heißt: Erika.
Dieses Mädel ist mein treues Schätzelein
und mein Glück, Erika.
Wenn das Heidekraut rot-lila blüht,
singe ich zum Gruß ihr dieses Lied.
Auf der Heide blüht ein kleines Blümelein
und das heißt: Erika.

Back at home, there lives a little maiden
and she’s called Erika.
That girl is my faithful little darling
and my joy, Erika!
When the heather blooms in a reddish purple,
I sing her this song in greeting.
On the heath, there blooms a little flower
and it’s called Erika.

In mein’m Kämmerlein blüht auch ein Blümelein
und das heißt: Erika.
Schon beim Morgengrau’n sowie beim Dämmerschein
schaut’s mich an, Erika.
Und dann ist es mir, als spräch’ es laut:
“Denkst du auch an deine kleine Braut?”
In der Heimat weint um dich ein Mägdelein
und das heißt: Erika.

In my room, there also blooms a little flower
and it’s called Erika.
Already In the grey of dawn, as it does at dusk,
It looks at me, Erika!
And it is as if it spoke aloud:
“Are you thinking of your fiancée?”
Back at home, a maiden weeps for you
and she’s called Erika.