Inside the July 20 Plot

As the Nazi war effort began to falter, several attempts were made on Adolf Hitler’s life in a bid to save Germany from total oblivion before it was too late. The most famous of these, and by far the closest, was the 20 July plot, 72 years ago today. To get even remotely close to the Führer, a foolproof plan had to be put in place. Here’s how Stauffenberg and co got so close to killing Hitler in the most intricate assaniation attempt against the Führer ever devised.


The plan

The July plotters decided to base thier idea on an attempted military coup. Claus von Stauffenberg, a Colonel in the Wehrmacht, took it upon himself to lead the operation and would personally plant the bomb during a meeting wity Hitler at the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) . No one would suspect a recently injured war hero from the Afrika Korps who had previously been an ardent Hitler supporter would undertake such treason.


The plan was for him to place the bomb in a briefcase next to Hitler during a briefing and excuse himself and leave before the blast. He would then catch the next flight to Berlin and initiate Operation Valkeryie. The coup d’état in the capital would work by launching a State of Emergency led by the Reserve Army. The army would round up all the leading Nazis and in the confusion a new government led by the conspirators, Ludwig Beck, Erwin von Witzleben and Erich Fromm would be installed. They would then seek peace with the Allies and Germany would be saved from total annihilation. It was to be called Operation Valkeryie.


How to kill Hitler

Soldiers and Waffen SS outside the Benderblock where the coup took place


The Reality

Everything was going to plan as Stauffenberg exited the Wolf’s Lair and headed for Berlin. He only had time to preapre one bomb rather than two but he still felt that this was sufficent. Due to the bomb’s crude yet inconspicuous design, the fuse had already been set before he entered the room. Shortly after, he left, excusing himself with a fake phone call and continued to carry out the plot. Back in the briefing, in one of history’s greatest strokes of luck, the briefcase was moved further from the Führer and behind an oak table leg. Even such a minor movement meant the crudley made bomb was now too far from Hitler to defintely kill him and sure enough, at 12.42pm the bomb detonated and four people died but the Führer was not among them.

In Berlin, plans for the coup got underway regardless. Troops led by Otto Remer arrested key Nazi officials including Joesph Goebbels. However, the canny Minister of Propaganda proved Hitler was still alive, as he made Remer listen to the Führer‘s voice on the telephone. Remer was convinced and the plot was stopped in its tracks and a counter coup got underway. As their support base waned, Stauffenberg and his allies were arrested in Berlin’s War Office, which had acted as their headquarters. In retaliation, Hitler gave no quarter and as a warning to anyone else that would are try and assassinate him, all the consipirators were killed and Hitler lived on. The Third Reich would held out for less than a year after the plot.


How to kill Hitler

Stauffenberg (left) with Hitler (centre) in an earlier aborted assassination attempt at Rastenburg on 15 July 1944



The July Bomb Plot


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