Why was the hunt for Hitler canceled?

Claus of Stauffenberg. The biography, the assassination attempt and an analysis of a radio address by Hitler after the assassination attempt

Table of Contents

1 Introduction.

2. Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg.
2.1 biography.

3. The assassination
3.1 Before the attack
3.2 The planning.
3.3 Implementation.
3.4 After the attack

4. Radio address from Hitler
4.1 Analysis of the speech.
4.2 Summary / Conclusion
4.3 Assessment / evaluation.


1 Introduction

In my specialist thesis I deal with Claus von Stauffenberg. He is often referred to as the symbol and person for resisting Hitler.

There were numerous assassination attempts and attacks on Hitler and his employees, but none of them succeeded in killing Hitler. Mostly it was unexpected delays, changes or cancellations that saved his life. One of the best known failed assassinations is the attack on Hitler on July 20, 1944 and the coup d'état that followed. Since I have often asked myself how he was able to survive so many assassinations, I decided to use an assassination attempt on Hitler as a topic for my specialist thesis. The Stauffenberg attack stood out among all the other assassination attempts. This was due to his plan not only to kill Hitler but also to overthrow his government by means of a coup. Because Hitler's death alone would not have changed much. His most loyal employees such as Himmler and Goebbels could have continued the Nazi regime. In my thesis, after thorough research into several books and biographies, I first present Stauffenberg's life and show how he came to resistance. Then I describe the planning and execution of the attack myself and explain the consequences of it.

I end my specialist work with an analysis and assessment of Hitler's speech which he gave on the radio after the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944.

2. Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg

2.1 biography

Claus Philipp Maria Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg was born on November 15, 1907 in Jettingen, in the Bavarian Swabia. He was the third son of Alfred Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (1860-1936) and his wife Caroline (1875-1956). Claus von Stauffenberg grew up with his two years older twin brothers (Alexander and Berthold) in Stuttgart and was raised Catholic. He also had another twin brother named Konrad Maria, who died the day after the birth.1 From 1913 Claus attended a private school for elementary instruction and then switched to the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium in autumn 1916. The twin brothers were also at this school. At the age of 16 in 1923, Claus and his two years older brother Berthold von Stauffenberg discovered the circle around the poet Stefan George and were then accepted into the circle of friends of the latter.2

After Claus von Stauffenberg had passed his Abitur prematurely in April 1926, he joined the 17 cavalry regiment in Bamberg three weeks later as a flag junior. He then attended the cavalry school in Hanover, completed the officer's examination as the best of his year in the cavalry and received a saber of honor. After completing a mine throwing course in Döberitz, he became the commander of the mine throwing platoon in March 1931. In the 1932 presidential election, Claus von Stauffenberg spoke out in favor of Hitler, but was not allowed to vote as an officer. Hitler's competitor Paul von Hindenburg "is reactionary and far too old"3. However, Hindenburg was again President of the Reich with 53.1 percent. Stauffenberg expressly welcomed Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor on January 30, 1933, as he was impressed by the ideas of the Nazi government for renewal and hoped for national reconstruction. Hitler promised to strengthen self-esteem and raise the national community to an ideal. However, it was not realized that the Jews were excluded from these promises. Under the Nazi government, Claus was promoted to lieutenant on May 1, 1933.

Claus von Stauffenberg did not ignore his family wishes and on September 26, 1933 married Nina von Lerchenfeld, to whom he had been secretly engaged for three years. Claus had five children with her: Berthold, Heimeran, Franz-Ludwig, Valerie and Konstanze.

Claus von Stauffenberg continued his career in 1934 as a rider officer at the cavalry school in Hanover. There he passed a military district examination and earned the diploma as a military interpreter in English and received a two-week stay at the military academy in Great Britain. His goal was to train as a general staff officer at the War Academy in Berlin. To do this, however, you had to come to the talented selection. Since Claus von Stauffenberg had already achieved remarkable things, he was accepted into the selection of talented students after his stay in England and was thus qualified for training as a general staff officer.

After his successful training, he was promoted to Rittmeister on January 1, 1937. On August 1, 1938, he was appointed Second General Staff Officer (Ib) to the 1st Light Division in Wuppertal detached and achieved one of his stated goals.4 A year later on September 1, 1939, the Second World War broke out, which Claus von Stauffenberg saw as a redemption despite the terrible war.5 In the same year, Claus von Stauffenberg was asked to take part in an attempted coup, but he refused, although he was appalled by the riots during the Reichspogromnacht. He stood in a conflict between his oath of allegiance and resistance to Hitler's policies. His next important promotion to major in the General Staff was on January 1, 1941. This was followed in January 1943 by promotion to Lieutenant Colonel i. G.

In 1943 Stauffenberg was transferred to Tunisia as the first general staff officer of the 10th Panzer Division to cover the retreat of General Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. In a low-flying attack by Allied fighter-bombers, however, Stauffenberg was seriously injured and lost his left eye, right hand and two fingers on his left hand. In the meantime he was also convinced that Hitler had to be eliminated, since his policies caused a great number of losses. After his recovery he was awarded the Golden Wound Badge and was then awarded the German Cross in Gold. After his vacation in Lautlingen, he joined the Kreisau Circle, a resistance group, and worked with General Olbricht, Colonel Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim and Major General von Treskow to launch a coup under the code name “Valkyrie”.6

With his promotion on July 1, 1944 to colonel in the general staff and chief of staff of the commander in chief of the replacement army, he now had direct access to Hitler. On July 17, 1944, Stauffenberg learned that he would have to appear for a meeting in Wolfschanze on July 20. On that day he wanted to carry out the planned assassination attempt. After the failure of the assassination attempt and the coup on July 20, 1944 in Berlin, Stauffenberg was arrested. On the same day, General Fromm ordered an immediate execution for high treason. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg is said to have shouted "Long live holy Germany" shortly before this. For the time being he was buried with a uniform and decorations, but Himmler had him dug up again, burned and his ashes scattered over the fields.

3. The assassination

3.1 Before the attack

Hitler's policy was criticized by many civil circles. In some cases resistance groups were formed that were ready to do anything to eliminate Hitler. However, Hitler was hardly vulnerable. He survived 42 documented assassinations, which he ultimately saw as proof that he was God-ordained, and ultimately saw them as providence. Planning an assassination attempt on Hitler was very difficult. Public events were sometimes canceled or postponed at short notice. Nor did he stick to the schedules. This made the firm planning of an assassination almost impossible.

However, there was always a fixed date for Hitler, November 8th. This was the anniversary of the failed coup, on which he gave a speech every year in Munich's Bürgerbräukeller. Georg Elsner (1903-1945) knew that he would give another speech in 1939 and decided to put a time bomb "in that particular column behind the speaker's podium"7. He chose the column because he had also planned to kill others in the leadership by collapsing the building. But this plan failed because Hitler kept his speech shorter than expected. The bomb exploded thirteen minutes after Hitler left the building.

After this failed assassination attempt, the security precautions for Hitler were increased many times over. An assassination attempt on Hitler had become almost impossible for the civilian population. Only the Wehrmacht had the opportunity to get so close to Hitler that they could kill him.

For December 16, 1943, Captain Axel von dem Bussche planned to kill Hitler at a winter uniform demonstration. He let himself be classified as a "model" and planned to clasp Hitler with two unlocked hand grenades in his pockets until the hand grenades exploded. But the evening before, the freight wagon with the uniforms burned down and the demonstration was canceled.

There was no conspirator who had direct access to Hitler until Claus von Stauffenberg was promoted to Chief of Staff of the Replacement Army. Stauffenberg decided or was forced to carry out the attack himself. After much planning, his plan failed twice. He broke off the first attempted assassination on July 11, 1944 because Heinrich Himmler was not supposed to attend the meeting. On July 15, 1944, Stauffenberg had to stop again because Hitler left the room while Stauffenberg was returning from a phone call. His last chance was July 20, 1944.

3.2 The planning

The overturn plan consisted of two parts. Once the assassination attempt on Hitler himself and then the subsequent coup. The assassination attempt on Hitler was supposed to be carried out with two bombs (C1), each with one kilo of explosives (C1) made in the UK. Stauffenberg was able to transport the bombs into the high-security zone “Wolfschanze” without any problems, as only personal controls were carried out.

“We really had instructions to only carry out identity checks, no baggage checks, no checks on briefcases, not even on weapons. Someone could have carried a machine gun on their back, but I would still have let them through "8 said the guard Kurt Salterberg later.

Chemical time fuses were used so that Claus von Stauffenberg had enough time to leave the conference room. The plan was pretty simple. Before the meeting, Stauffenberg was supposed to activate the detonators using separate pliers, put both explosives in his briefcase and go to the meeting. Then he had to place the bag very close to Hitler.

Olbricht, who also played an important role in the coup, was supposed to contact Wolfschanze from Berlin to ask Stauffenberg on the phone. Stauffenberg should thus be able to leave the bunker under a pretext and move towards the airfield with the car that Werner von Heaften had already organized. After the explosion, General Erich Fellgiebel was supposed to cut off all communications, so that no more messages could be sent from Wolfschanze. Meanwhile, Colonel General Fromm was supposed to trigger the Valkyrie Plan in the Bendler Block in Berlin and thus initiate the coup. However, the “Valkyrie” coup had to be planned much earlier. The Valkyrie Plan was originally intended to put down civil unrest caused by the replacement army in the event that forced laborers or prisoners of war should start an uprising in Germany. Henning von Tresckow and Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg saw gaps and weaknesses in this plan and used the opportunity to inconspicuously rewrite the plan. In some cases they added new orders so that the SS, SD, Gestapo and NSDAP could be eliminated by the replacement army as part of the plan through the Valkyrie plan. This enabled them to enforce their own government in an "inconspicuous" coup. Stauffenberg was the only one of the conspirators to have access to Hitler. He personally presented the revised version of the Valkyrie plans to Hitler and then had him sign it.

After a successful coup, the takeover of government should be announced to the population on the radio.

Accordingly, Stauffenberg had a double position. He had to detonate the bomb in Wolfschanze (East Prussia) and return to Berlin as soon as possible to lead the attempted coup.

Thus everything was prepared for a smooth and quick overthrow.

3.3 Implementation

July 20, 1944, today the great turning point in German history should come and the Nazi regime should be finally eliminated.

In the early morning at 6 o'clock, Claus von Stauffenberg left his house at Tristianstrasse 8 in Wannsee. Stauffenberg and the driver Karl Schweizer then drove to Rangsdorf airfield. The co-conspirators of Stauffenberg's adjutant Oberleutnant Werner von Haeften and Major General Hellmuth Stieff were already waiting there. At 7 a.m. they arrived at Rangsdorf airfield in the south of Berlin, but did not take off until 8 a.m. due to the morning fog. Werner von Heaften carried the explosives packages, each weighing one kilo, with him in his briefcase.

At 10.15 a.m. the plane landed at the Rastenburg airfield in East Prussia. They then drove to Wolfsschanze, six kilometers away, in a car from the commandant's office. The Wolfsschanze had three so-called blocking zones.

At 11.00 a.m., Stauffenberg reached Sperrkreis I, where the meeting was also supposed to take place at 1.00 p.m. After a purely personal check, he crossed the border to the interior of the restricted area I and reported to Field Marshal Keitel to go through any questions during the briefing.

A short time later, Keitel received a call. The briefing had been brought forward by half an hour due to the expected visit by Benito Mussolini. Stauffenberg only had a few minutes to arm the bombs. On the pretext of wanting to change his shirt, Stauffenberg asked for a room. Together with Haeften, who had the bombs with them, they quickly entered the room to arm the bomb. Haeften unpacked the explosives, time fuses and the special flat-nose pliers. In order to activate the bomb, Stauffenberg first had to equip the explosives with a detonator and then break the acid ampoule with flat-nose pliers so that the acid begins to decompose the wire that holds the firing pin for the detonation.

Shortly after arming the first bomb, Sergeant Vogel suddenly opened the door and bumped into Stauffenberg's back. Sergeant Vogel then announced that General Fellgiebel was praying for a call back, while in the background Lieutenant Colonel John von Freyend called to Stauffenberg. The call from the co-conspirator Fellgiebel was actually planned so that Stauffenberg would later have an excuse to leave the meeting. The timing, however, was very inconvenient, so Stauffenberg decided to just put the activated bomb in his briefcase. Haeften quickly took the other bomb and the detonator and left the room. Shortly afterwards, Stauffenberg made his way to the conference room. At 12:32 p.m. Stauffenberg entered the conference room. 25 people were already gathered around the large oak table. Stauffenberg took the place next to Hitler and placed his briefcase as close as possible to Hitler. Stauffenberg left the room with Lieutenant Colonel John under the pretext of having to make a phone call.

Stauffenberg put the receiver aside, left the room and climbed into the car with Haeften and Fellgiebel. At that moment the bomb exploded. 4 people died, the remaining participants were injured to a moderate degree. Hitler was unharmed. They could still pass through the first gate without any problems. But when they got to the second gate, the alarm went off. Sergeant Kolbe refused entry. Stauffenberg asked for a telephone connection to the commandant of the Fiihrer's headquarters. There Rittmeister Möllendorf, who temporarily represented the commandant and did not know the reason for the explosion, allowed Stauffenberg to continue through. Then they made their way to the airfield as quickly as possible. There they boarded the plane at 1:15 p.m. and arrived in Berlin Rangsdorf after a 2-hour flight.

Olbricht still hadn't initiated Operation Valkyrie because he had not yet received any clear evidence of Hitler's death. However, Colonel Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim put the reserve army on alert without Olbricht's permission. Only when Haeften phoned General Olbricht after landing and expressly informed him that Hitler was dead, Olbricht initiated Operation Valkyrie on behalf of Colonel-General Fromm, who had already been informed by telephone about the failure of the assassination and opposed the triggering of Valkyrie. A little later Stauffenberg appeared in the Bendlerblock and went to Fromm personally and tried to convince him that Hitler was dead.Fromm, however, advised Stauffenberg to shoot himself because of the failed assassination attempt or to have him arrested. However, Olbricht turned the tables and arranged for Fromm to be arrested. Stauffenberg then went to work and phoned the many different military districts. Goebbels' arrest was also part of the Valkyrie plan. Major Remer personally went into Goebbels' office and informed him of the arrest. Goebbels then established a personal telephone connection with Hitler. Hitler then asked the major: "Do you recognize my voice?"9Major Remer recognized his voice immediately, was promoted during the phone call and charged with putting down the coup. At around 9 p.m. the Bendler block was occupied by Remer's guard battalions and Fromm was freed again. At 00:10 he informed all military districts that the attempted coup had been put down. Thereupon the conspirators General Olbricht, Lieutenant Colonel von Haeften, Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim and Colonel Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg were executed on orders from Fromm. Stauffenberg is said to have shouted "Long live holy Germany!" Shortly before he was shot.10

At 00.01, Hitler spoke personally to the people via all of the Großdeutscher Rundfunk broadcasters.


1 Gerd Ueberschär, Stauffenberg - July 20, 1944, Frankfurt am Main, 2004, p.88

2 Harald Steffahn, Stauffenberg, Hamburg, 1994, pp. 18-24

3 Guido Knopp, Stauffenberg- The True Story, 2008, p. 55

4 Guido Knopp, Stauffenberg - The True Story, 2008, p.86

5 Guido Knopp, Stauffenberg - The True Story, 2008, p.94

6 Christian Graf von Krockow, A question of honor, Berlin, 2002 pp. 95-105

7 Berlin interrogation protocol 3rd day, http://www.georg-elser-arbeitskreis.de/texts/geverhoer3.htm, accessed on February 10, 2016

8 Guido Knopp, Stauffenberg - The True Story, 2008, p.188

9 Christian Graf von Krockow, A question of honor, 2002, p.139

10 Harald Steffahn, Stauffenberg, 1994, p. 129

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