Assassination Attempts on Adolf Hitler (3)

20190907_201749000_iOSOne of the groups that participated in Von Halem-Römer conspiracy was led by one Dr. Paul Joseph Stuermer. The group was quite large and included several Wehrmacht officers, some university professors, businessmen and even government workers.

In addition to participating in the abovementioned conspiracy, the Stuermer group developed several assassination plots of its own. None of them was ever commenced and after the Römer gave their names to the Gestapo, they were all arrested, tried in the infamous “People’s Court”, sentenced to death and promptly executed.

The next plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler (this one actually got going) happened the same year and was massive. I mean, enormous. Colossal. Gargantuan. And what was even more surprising, it was envisioned, designed and set in motion by just one (!) individual.

Dr. Helmut Mylius was a German industrialist, founder and leader of the Party of the Radical Middle Class (Radikale Mittelstandspartei), and since 1930 the editor of the Frankfurt-based right-wing political and economics weekly publication, Die Parole der radicalen Staats-und Wirtschaftreform (The Battle Cry for Radical State and Economic Reform).

This creative and energetic individual (whose life definitely deserves a Hollywood movie) somehow managed to make 160 (!) men infiltrate the SS (!) to gather information on Hitler’s movement – obviously, to identify the best time, place and method to send Reich Chancellor to his God.

Such a mammoth conspiracy was impossible to conceal (especially by someone not exactly trained or experienced in such matters). Therefore, it is no surprise that the plot was swiftly uncovered by the Gestapo; the conspirators were arrested and sent to various internment camps.

Miraculously, Dr. Myluis himself was not even arrested – apparently due to timely interference of his very influential friends in the Reichswehr. How did they manage to pull it off (and way) remains a mystery to this day, but he somehow managed to even join the Wehrmacht as an Army Quartermaster.

The next year the so-called “Marwitz group” of German Army officers wrote an open letter (sort of) to top Wehrmacht commanders. The letter stated that Adolf Hitler “was ready to sacrifice Germany” (more like gambled it – and ultimately lost) and hence “the oath of allegiance to Hitler has lost its meaning” (actually, not) – and called for a military coup against the Nazi government.

Just about everyone else in the brand-new Wehrmacht was of an exactly opposite opinion so the authors of the letter were promptly identified, captured and shot without trial (“Kolibri-style”).

The next plot was, well bizarre. For starters, the individual chosen to assassinate Hitler was… an American citizen. One Helmut Hirsch was, indeed, technically the citizen of the USofA, though he was born in Stuttgart and had never even visited the United States.

On top of that he was Jewish… and a member of the so-called “Combat League of Revolutionary National Socialists” (commonly referred to as “Black Front”). A Jew employed by National-Socialist group led by the former leader of the left wing of NSDAP to assassinate Adolf Hitler… IMHO it was quite insane even by the lenient standards of the Third Reich.

On the other hand, politics (especially radical and violent politics) makes strange bedfellows – and at least Hirsch (like all Jews inside and outside Germany) had a motive. A pretty strong motive, I would say.

Unfortunately for Hirsh (and for the Black Front) the latter was thoroughly penetrated by both Gestapo and Ausland-SD (foreign intelligence service of the SS and the Nazi Party).

So when the hapless would-be assassin attempted to enter German soil on December 20, 1936 with two suitcases filled with high explosives (to be planted at the Nazi party headquarters in Nuremberg), he was met by Gestapo men, arrested, interrogated, tried, convicted, sentenced to death and beheaded with a guillotine.

The year 1937 saw two attempts to assassinate the Reich Chancellor. First, an unidentified man in SS uniform reportedly tried to kill Hitler during a Nazi rally at the Berlin SportPalas. The man remains unidentified because he was killed by Hitler’s LSSAH bodyguards before he could fire a shot.

On November 26 one Josef Thomas was arrested by the Gestapo in Berlin after it got a tip that this individual traveled from Elberfeld for the explicit purpose of shooting Hitler and air force commander Hermann Göring.

Thomas confessed to the crime right then and there – and of his own volition (no “rough treatment” was necessary); was charged with high treason, tried, convicted, sentenced to death and promptly beheaded.

It turned out he was a mental patient who spent considerable time in the corresponding institutions in Wuppertal. Adolf Hitler never forgave and never forgot so there is a possibility that the his murderous Aktion T4 was inspired in part by this very accident.

The next year (1938) two other attempts took place. The first one was the now-famous Oster Conspiracy that deserves its own section (which it will get shortly). The plot was developed by then Oberstleutnant Hans Oster (Deputy Chief of the Abwehr) – German military intelligence and Major Helmuth Groscurth – also of the Abwehr.

They drew into the conspiracy such high-ranking Wehrmacht commanders as Generaloberst Ludwig Beck, General Wilhelm Adam, Generaloberst Walther von Brauchitsch, Generaloberst Franz Halder, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, and Generalleutnant Erwin von Witzleben.

The plan involved the storming of the Reich Chancellery by forces loyal to the plot in order to take control of the government, who would (let’s be honest) assassinate Hitler, and restore the exiled Wilhelm II as Emperor.

Hitler’s chances for surviving this plot were lower than of a snowball in Hell (he literally had only a few hours left to live); however, a genuine miracle happened. Prime Ministers of Britain Neville Chamberlain and of France (Édouard Daladier) agreed to sign the now-infamous Munich Agreement, conceding the Sudetenland to Hitler and thus neutralizing the immediate risk of war that the coup was meant to prevent.

The second assassination attempt in that year actually happened (on Nazi holy day – November 9th, right during the Kristallnacht pogrom) and had decidedly Catholic roots.

Although Adolf Hitler signed a Reichskonkordat with the Holy Roman Catholic Church on July 20th, 1933, the Church suffered severe persecution in Nazi Germany.

Catholic priests were watched closely, and many were denounced, arrested and sent to internment camps without trial or even specific charges. Catholic welfare institutions were interfered with or transferred to state (i.e. Nazi) control.

Catholic schools, press, trade unions, political parties and youth leagues were eradicated. Anti-Catholic propaganda and “morality” trials were staged. Monasteries and convents were targeted for expropriation. Prominent Catholic lay leaders were murdered (e.g. during the Night of the Long Knives), and thousands of Catholic activists were interned in KL.

In all, an estimated one third of German priests faced some form of reprisal in Nazi Germany and 400 of them were sent to the dedicated Priest Barracks of Dachau Concentration Camp.

Hence it is no surprise that one Maurice Bavaud, a devout Catholic and a theology student from Switzerland, decided to save the Church from the Anti-Christ. He picked a very wrong target – the real Anti-Christ (or the closest to) was Joseph Stalin and Hitler (despite all persecutions) was saving, not destroying the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

His actions were not much better; in fact, his multiple attempts on Hitler’s life were a comedy of errors. On October 9, 1938, Bavaud travelled from Brittany to Baden-Baden, then on to Basel, where he bought a Schmeisser 6.35 mm (.25 ACP) semi-automatic pistol.

The he went to Berlin, where a policeman (Karl Deckert) overheard Bavaud saying that he would like to meet Hitler personally. Deckert liked the young man (Bavaud was 22 at that time) and advised him to travel to Munich for the anniversary of the 1923 “Beer Hall Putsch”, which Hitler attended every year.

At the rally, Bavaud positioned himself on an overpass Hitler was scheduled to travel under — the plan was to shoot him from above with a pistol Bavaud had in his pocket.

Despite Bavaud’s amateur actions (to put it mildly), on that day Adolf Hitler was in a very real danger. Bavaud was a good shot, and for a moment or two he would have been close enough to Hitler to either severely injure or even kill him (despite his not exactly powerful bullets).

And then another miracle happened. As Hitler approached, Bavaud reached for the gun… only to lose sight of his target when hundreds of people in front of him stood up and saluted Hitler, blocking his view. When they sat down, Bavaud’s target was long gone.

Directly after that failure, Bavaud bought a ticket to Berchtesgaden, where he’d heard Hitler would be relaxing after the rally. When he got there, he learned that Hitler was still in Munich. Bavaud bought another ticket to Munich, only to learn when he got there… that Hitler was now in Berchtesgaden.

It appears that on that day miracles for Adolf Hitler never ceased. The Providence really had a very important Mission in store for him and was determined not to let any assassination become a success.

Out of money, Bavaud was arrested for vagrancy at a train station. Police found the gun, a forged letter of introduction (Bavaud was told that a private audience with Hitler could be arranged if Bavaud could obtain a letter of introduction from a suitable foreign VIP), and another letter addressed to Hitler himself.

He was interrogated by the Gestapo and admitted his plans to assassinate Hitler. Bavaud was tried by the infamous Volksgerichtshof on December 18, 1939, naming as his motives that he considered Hitler a danger to humanity in general, to Swiss independence, and to Catholicism in Germany.

Swiss diplomacy made no effort to save Bavaud (which would have been futile anyway – Hitler never forgave his personal enemies). Hans Frölicher, the Swiss ambassador to Germany, even publicly condemned Bavaud’s assassination attempt (probably a smart move as Wehrmacht could have easily taken over Switzerland at any time).

Maurice Bavaud was executed by guillotine in the Berlin-Plötzensee prison on the morning of May 14, 1941. Bizarrely, his story did not end there.

After the war, the German government put Bavaud on trial twice (!) after his death. Both trials were the result of the enormous pressure applied by Marcel’s father Alfred who was committed to rehabilitating his son’s name and reputation

In 1955, his death sentence was posthumously commuted to five years, arguing that Hitler’s life was protected by law just as any other life. A second verdict of 1956 overturned the conviction entirely and Germany paid Bavaud’s family the sum of CHF 40,000 in reparation.

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