Failed Hitler assassination bid is commemorated
Gulf Times July 20, 2012
Germany held memorial ceremonies yesterday to mark the failed attempt by military officers during World War II to assassinate Adolf Hitler – amid criticism that the main event was not public enough.
Hitler survived, and had tortured and executed most of the plotters who tried to kill him with a bomb that exploded in his Wolf’s Lair headquarters in modern-day Poland on July 20, 1944.
The blast merely injured Hitler, who committed suicide as Berlin fell to Soviet forces less than a year later.
Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer laid a wreath at a memorial at the Bendler Block, a defence building in Berlin where the leader of the plot, Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, worked.
In an open-air ceremony at the site later yesterday, some 400 new recruits to the defence forces were sworn in.
The German military has elevated Stauffenberg and the plotters to exemplars of how officers must act, defying authority if necessary.
However, there was criticism that the swearing-in was taking place inside the perimeter fence of the defence building rather than in the historic venue of the previous four years: on the open lawn in front of the Reichstag Building where the Bundestag meets.
Radicals have tried to disrupt the ceremony when it was held at the Reichstag, requiring a huge police cordon to secure it.
Parliamentarian Hellmut Koenigshaus, of the Free Democrats, said that the venue was wrong and that the forces should show that they were ultimately answerable to parliament, not to the defence ministry.
“I would have considered it a fine tradition to always do this swearing-in outside the Reichstag,” he said.
Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere rejected the criticism, saying that the venue would alternate between the two sites year by year.
WWII July bomb plot remembered
Polskie Radio July 20, 2012
Friday marks the 68th anniversary of the 20 July 1944 assassination attempt on former Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
Today, only one member of the group of German plotters survives.
The operation, codenamed Valkyrie, took place at the Nazi field headquaters known as the Wolf’s Lair, an elaborate network of bunkers in former East Prussia, today on the territory of north east Poland.
Count Claus von Stauffenberg, a German staff officer, managed to smuggle a bomb into the lair in a briefcase while attending a military conference on 20 July 1944.
Having placed the briefcase under the conference table, Stauffenberg left the room, having been called to the telephone, as planned beforehand.
However, although four of those attending the conference died as a result of the bomb blast, Hitler survived virtually unscathed.
The majority of the plotters were swiftly rounded up and executed, including von Stauffenberg himself.
Today, only one of the German bomb plotters survives, 90-year-old Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin, whose father was executed for his own role in the plot.
Ewald-Heinrich managed to cover up his involvement in the operation, although he was imprisoned at Ravenbruck concentration camp nevertheless.
The site of the Wolf’s Lair is now largely in ruins, yet some 180,000 tourists from Poland and abroad visit it each year.
The entire plot, which is leased by the Polish state, encompasses 13 hectares near the town of Ketrzyn (formerly Rastenburg).
Less than a fortnight after the failed 20 July bomb plot, the Polish resistance launched the Warsaw Rising against the Nazi occupiers.
The ill-fated insurgency, which was authorised by the Polish government-in-exile in London, resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 Varsovian civilians, and the almost complete destruction of the city.