Although loved by many of his subjects, inevitably Adolf Hitler was hated by others, many of whom wanted to see him dead as much as the Allied forces. Very few leaders in history have had as many assassination attempts made against them and in total forty-two known attempts were made on his life. Here are just three such attempts, one made by a German citizen and the others by officers in the Fuhrer’s army, that illustrate the lengths some were willing to go to in order to bring his reign of terror to an end.
1. Johann Georg Elser
Born in 1903, Johann Georg Elser was a humble cabinetmaker in Switzerland until 1932, when he moved to his native Germany and worked in his father’s lumberyard. A die-hard anti-Nazi, he resented the control they had over labour unions and the restrictions that they were increasingly placing on religious freedoms.
He took it upon himself to solve the problem and decided to assassinate Adolf Hitler by placing a time bomb in a podium where he was to give a speech in the Burgerbrau Beer Cellar in Munich. The bomb was set to explode at 9.20 pm on November 8, 1939 but unfortunately the speech was over at 9.12 pm and Hitler left the building immediately after. When the bomb exploded, it killed eight people, seven of whom were Nazi Party members and wounded sixty-five including the father of Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress.
Elser was arrested while trying to cross the border into Switzerland and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and later moved to Dachau concentration camp. The unlucky Elser was executed on 9 April, 1945, just two weeks before the end of World War II.
2. Colonel Henning von Tresckow
Three attempts were made on Hitler’s life on March 13, 1943. Field Marshal Guenther von Kluge, commander of Army Group Centre on the Eastern Front got Hitler to visit his head quarters at Smolensk. Meanwhile, a number of officers on his staff hatched their plans to kill the Fuhrer while he was there.
Colonel Henning von Tresckow, Lt. Fabian von Schlabrendorff, Colonel Rudolf von Gersdorff and Cavalry Captain Georg von Boeslager planned to ambush Hitler’s car as he made his way from the airfield to the HQ but the plan was aborted when they realised he was too well protected by 50 armed SS guards escorting him. The second attempt was aborted for the same reason, the sight of so many guards prevented Colonel Henning von Tresckow from standing up at lunchtime in the mess hall and opening fire on him.
For the third plan, Tresckow told Lt. Fabian von Schlabrendorff to pass on a package to a passenger on Hitler’s plane, to give as a gift to another officer in Berlin. The package contained two bottles of brandy and a concealed time bomb that was to be triggered by acid but due to the high altitude the acid froze and the bomb failed to explode. Schlabrendorf flew to Berlin on hearing of the failure of the attempt and replaced the ‘gift’ with two genuine bottles of brandy.
3. Lt. Colonel Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg
Lt. Colonel Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg was convinced that it was his responsibility to assassinate Hitler and he made three attempts to do just that. The first was on July 11 1944 when he attended a conference at the Berghof, Hitler’s villa on the Obersalzberg. He concealed a time bomb in his briefcase and waited outside in a car with his co-conspirator Captain Friedrich Klausing. The plan was to take out Hitler, Goering and Himmler all together but when he contacted his colleagues in Berlin and informed them that the Fuhrer’s top henchmen weren’t present, the plan was aborted.
Four days later, Stauffenberg made his second attempt at Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair headquarters in East Prussia. While attending a briefing there, he was again forced to cancel the attempt as Himmler was not present. On July 20, 1944, the 36 year old made his third and final attempt and it had been decided that this time it would go ahead with or without the presence of Himmler.
At 12 pm, he reported to Field Marshal Keitel’s office for a briefing then attended a conference where, at 12.37 pm, he placed his briefcase under the map table and left the room on the pretence of making a phone call. The bomb, which was made up of 2,000 grams of Plastik-W explosives, went off at 12.42pm however the heavy oak table it was under protected Hitler from much of the blast and he suffered only minor wounds. Stauffenberg had made good his escape to Berlin but by the following evening he was arrested along with his co-conspirators and executed by firing squad at the Bendlerstrasse HQ.
Author: Andrew Griffiths — Copyrighted © roadtickle.com