Undeterred by this mystical failure, von Tresckow made another attempt on Hitler’s life – just one week later. Again, not in person – this time his agent (tool, actually) was one Generalmajor Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff – intelligence liaison with the Abwehr (hotbed of anti-Nazi resistance).
On 21 March 1943, Hitler visited the Zeughaus Berlin, the old armory on Unter den Linden, to inspect captured Soviet weapons. A group of top Nazi and leading military officials—among them Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, and Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz—were present as well.
As an expert on Soviet weapons, Gersdorff was to guide Hitler on a tour of the exhibition. Moments after Hitler entered the museum, Gersdorff set off two ten-minute delayed fuses on explosive devices hidden in his coat pockets.
His plan was to throw himself around Hitler in a “death embrace” that would blow them both up. Like a week earlier, the assassination was supposed to be followed with the same suicidal attempt at coup d’état by General Olbricht (subsequently one of the key conspirators in July 20th plot).
But again, the omnipresent and seemingly omnipotent Providence saved Adolf Hitler. It somehow made Hitler (contrary to all expectations) Hitler race through the museum in less than ten minutes – and leave immediately.
Gersdorff survived – he somehow managed to defuse the bombs in a public bathroom “at the last second” and without being discovered – not a small feat, if you ask me. After the attempt, he got himself immediately transferred back to the Eastern Front where he managed to evade suspicion.
Looks like he (for some unknown reason) was also protected by the Almighty Providence. Although he supplied bombs that were used in an attempt on Hitler’s life on July 20th, 1944, he was able to escape arrest and certain execution. Thus becoming one of the few German military anti-Hitler plotters to survive the war.
Following the war, Gersdorff participated in the work of the U.S. Army Historical Division, in which, under the guidance of Franz Halder, German generals wrote World War II operational studies for the U.S. Army, first as POWs and then as employees.
In the mid-1950s, Gersdorff tried to join the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of postwar West Germany. Despite his distinguished record and decorations, his attempts were, according to Gersdorff, opposed by Hans Globke, the powerful head of the German Chancellery and confidant of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and by various former Wehrmacht officers in the Bundeswehr who did not want a “traitor” in their midst.
Incredibly, nine months later, another tool (this time of Colonel Graf von Stauffenberg) attempted to kill Hitler using almost exactly the same scenario. Major Axel von dem Bussche, over two meters tall, blonde and blue-eyed (and a Knight’s Cross recipient to boot), exemplified the Nazi “Aryan ideal”.
Consequently, it is no surprise that was thus chosen to personally model the Army’s new winter uniform in front of the Fuhrer. He intended to conceal a land mine (!) inside his clothing (it would have been a miracle to pull that off) and detonate while embracing the Fuhrer Gersdorff-style.
However, the Providence intervened again – this time by having the Allied bombers destroy the railway truck containing the new uniforms. So the viewing was canceled and Adolf Hitler again missed his rendezvous with death.
Like his role model von Gersdorff, von dem Bussche survived the war. After the German defeat, Bussche studied law at Göttingen University and later became an accomplished diplomat, serving from 1954 to 1958 in the German Embassy in Washington.
He was also a member of the presidency of the Evangelical Church in Germany, an adviser to the World Bank, and a delegate to the Stockholm UN environment conference of 1972.
Einstein’s definition of idiocy is doing the same thing over and over again expecting to somehow get the different results. By this definition, some Wehrmacht officers were super-idiots as they expected radically different results while taking exactly the same route to kill Adolf Hitler.
In January of 1944, two months after the heroic attempt of Major Axel von dem Bussche predictably went nowhere, one Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin, a 22-year old infantry company commander, decided to assassinate Hitler in exactly the same way as was planned by Major Bussche.
Kleist and his men were scheduled to show Hitler new uniforms that had been tested at the front. Kleist planned to set off explosives hidden in his briefcase (which made much more sense than trying to conceal the bomb in his uniform).
He believed that he might have been able to escape alive, even if the briefcase exploded in his hands (now that was real lunacy). But like earlier attempts, the plan was not carried out, as Hitler simply never showed up (apparently somehow warned by the Providence). Thus saving the life of von Kleist who lived to the ripe old age of 90 (!).
After reading about all these attempts by Hitler’s generals to assassinate their commander-in-chief, I have only one question – where the hell was Hitler’s personal security??? And what on Earth was Gestapo doing??
I understand that the latter was prohibited by law from spying on Wehrmacht officers and generals – but there sure was a way to get to them via civilians. And a simple “no-gifts-on-aircraft” policy (standard these days) would have rendered von Tresckow and his co-conspirators totally and completely impotent.
The same thing would have happened with von Gersdorff and his copycats – had a ruthless “stop-and-frisk” policy been in effect in on events attended by Hitler. Complemented with thorough inspection of all carry-ons, of course.
The last plotter before July 20th, 1944 (the plot that ended all plots) made an attempt somewhat similar to three previous ones but decided against using the bomb (which, however made no difference at all in terms of results).
Instead, one Eberhard von Breitenbuch (a German cavalry officer who served in Army Group Centre with the rank equivalent to Hauptmann) decided to assassinate the Führer by shooting him in the head using a 7.65mm Browning pistol concealed in his trouser pocket.
How he hoped to pull it off given that Hitler was well-protected by SS bodyguards, is beyond me. However, it did not matter – on that day Providence somehow warned Hitler and he ordered his LSSAH men not to permit aides into the conference room with Hitler.
Thus sparing von Breitenbuch’s life as well – the latter survived the war and lived a totally unremarkable life and dying at the age of 70.