Attempt to Assassinate Hitler Fails

The Allies´ landing in France and the Soviets´ rapid progress on the eastern front prompted a group of Germans to conspire against Hitler. Aware that he was leading Germany to utter destruction, they believed that if they continued to stay their hand, the Allies would no longer agree to negotiate with a new German administration. The anti-Hitler conspirators were not well organized, but they managed to recruit Lt.-Col. Count Klaus von Stauffenberg, a courageous soldier who had lost an eye, a hand, and two fingers in war for his homeland. Stauffenberg plotted a coup and undertook to eliminate Hitler personally. When he was invited to a meeting with Hitler at an eastern Prussian outpost, he brought a suitcase containing a time bomb. His intention was to place the suitcase in the bunker where meetings with Hitler were usually held, and then to leave. The meeting was relocated to a retreat house made of wood, but Stauffenberg continued to seek an opportunity to implement his plan. He placed the suitcase under the conference-hall table, a short distance from Hitler´s legs, and left the room. At 12:37, a loud explosion was heard. Four people were killed and 20 wounded. The reason for the small number of casualties was that somebody moved the briefcase. Hitler was not seriously injured. Several conspirators, including Stauffenberg, were caught and shot at once; the others were given an opportunity to commit suicide and spare their families. Field Marshal Rommel, wrongly suspected of direct involvement in the conspiracy, was among the suicides; the Germans´ official communique reported his death as the result of a traffic accident. In the aftermath, 15,000 people were arrested and 5,000 executed. Several of the most famous conspirators were subjected to abuse and then strangled in an espeslow and brutal manner. By order of Hitler, their executions were filmed and shown to selected audiences as a warning.