The “1941 Plot” or a Bit of Alternate History (6)

Heinrich Himmler - Blut und Boden - Peter CrawfortdAs I have already mentioned, SS-Reichsfuhrer had at least one personal agent inside the coup – one Hans Bernd Gisevius. Consequently, he knew everything he needed to know about the Oster/Halder conspiracy in 1938… and in 1941 (we are in the realm of alternate history here).

After he received sufficiently detailed information about Oster/Halder Conspiracy II, Himmler had two options. The first one was obvious – expose the conspiracy to his boss Adolf Hitler, get his permission to arrest the conspirators, arrest them… in other words do just about the same thing he will do after the miserable failure of July 20th plot. Only this time “before it happens”.

However, saving the life of Adolf Hitler was not exactly what SS-Reichsfuhrer wanted. In fact, he wanted exactly the opposite – get the former killed and become a de-facto Führer himself.

So I am pretty sure that Heinrich Himmler (a really devious character) would have chosen a very different – and a far riskier – option. He would have allowed Commando Oster (or whoever its actual commander would be in this case) to ambush and kill Hitler – but annihilated (he had plenty of resources to make it happen) the teams sent to kill him and official successors – Göring and Hess (the latter by that time would have triumphantly returned to Germany).

And then used his Waffen-SS, Fallschirmjäger units and other ground forces of the Luftwaffe (even the Stuka dive bombers, if necessary) to suppress the coup, arrest the plotters, take full control over the Wehrmacht and integrate it into the State Protection Corps (thus executing the very much hostile takeover).

Officially acting on the orders of Hermann Göring – the official successor of Adolf Hitler in the case of the latter’s death (Rudolf Hess was the next in line after the Reichsmarschall).

In reality, Göring who had neither the desire, nor the ability (nor the resources for that matter) to govern the Reich, would have eagerly made Himmler the de-facto Führer immediately after becoming one de-jure.

And in a few months (at most) would retire to his beloved Carinhall northeast of Berlin in picturesque Schorfheide forest, opening the way form Himmler to become the Führer de-jure. Allowing the latter to become the transformation of Germany and German-controlled territories into SS-Staat.

Could SS-Reichsfuhrer have pulled it off? IMHO, his chances were roughly 70/30 versus the Wehrmacht generals.

What would have been the consequences? Had the generals won, we would most likely have seen the reincarnation of Imperial Germany – the Fourth Reich (possibly even officially) that would have been even more elitist and thus even less democratic than the Second one.

In the West, Germany would have returned to then 1914 borders; however, the new government would have made sure that Germany would have always remain one of three global superpowers (the other two being the British Empire and the USA).

And very probably the #1 superpower as Germany would have surely annexed and incorporated into the Reich the whole Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic nations and a significant chunk of Russian territory.

Would it have been a change for the worse for the Poles? Oh, yes. And for the Czechs, too – compared to their independence. For much worse, I would think. The same will be true for the Baltic nations – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, I am sure. As for Belarus, Ukraine and Russia – I do not think so. Generalplan Ost and Imperial Germany are not compatible at all (to put it mildly) so it is very much possible that under the German rule “all of the above” would have been far better off than under the murderous Bolshevik regime.

Had Himmler won… I would expect all West European nations conquered by Wehrmacht to become German protectorates. Their independence will be a thing of the past and they will be ruled by and iron fist of the SS. “The Man in the High Castle” would probably have been a reasonably accurate portrayal of the regime in those countries.

In the East… in the East the Nazi regime (surprise, surprise) would have been almost completely the same as in the West. For a very simple reason – Heinrich Himmler was a pragmatist (unlike the Wehrmacht, his Waffen-SS was a truly multinational and multicultural force and it was him, not Wehrmacht generals who let General Vlasov form the Russian Liberation Army).

Himmler had no desire to fight the nationwide revolt in occupied territories (an inevitable reaction to the genocide of the native population). Nor would he want to see the resurgence of the Red Army and of the Soviet state (also inevitable in that case).

Consequently, he would probably try to arrive at some kind of a win-win situation (for the local population, compared to life under Bolsheviks, of course). The Jews, however, would have been annihilated (there would have been no Holocaust under the new German Empire, of course).

The bottom line: Adolf Hitler would have been gone regardless of who would have won – the SS or the Wehrmacht; Himmler or the generals. Western Europe would have been much better off under the generals and in both cases much better off than in reality – as there would have been no destruction or any loss of life.

Greater Germany would have been much better off under the Generals (the second Imperial Germany would have been still way better than the totalitarian SS-Staat) and much, much better off than in reality (no loss of lives, no destruction of infrastructure, acquisition of colossal territories, etc.).

Poland and Czechoslovakia would have been much better off under Wehrmacht generals than under Himmler (obviously), but much worse off in terms of territories and regime (in both cases) than in reality.

For the German-occupied territories of the Soviet Union life under the Fourth Reich would have been far better than under the SS-Staat. And way, wat better than in reality (no Communist dictatorships, no loss of life and no wholesale destruction). Life under SS-Staat would have been probably comparable to that under Communist regime (minus the destruction and colossal loss of life).

The abovementioned analysis leads us to the following conclusions (which the “mainstream” historians would not like one bit). Had Adolf Hitler won the war, there was about 30% chance that this outcome would have been far better for all parties involved compared to what happened in reality.

And a 70% chance that the outcome would have been highly uneven – for some (i.e. Germany and even Britain who would have kept its empire intact) it would have been far better than what actually happened, for others (Western Europe, Poland, etc.) it would have been worse while for some (territories of the former Soviet Union) it would have been neither much better nor much worse.

Himmler’s Plot (2)

Heinrich Himmler - Grail - Hitler - Occult Reich - Peter Crawford 2013The situation in 1943 was even better. Much better. His control over the security services was consolidate into RSHA – Reich’s Main Security Office; his control over the economy was expanded and tightened (not least due to his total control over the supply of slave labor), more government officials were SS officers, SS-VT was now full-fledged, well-equipped and battle-hardened Waffen-SS, etc., etc.

Himmler carefully maintained the distance (and thus his autonomy) from Adolf Hitler. He deliberately stayed away from Hitler’s “inner circle”, knowing only too well that getting in was difficult, but getting out was utterly impossible.

Hitler was known to issue a very broad – and often vague – directives and left it out to his subordinate to find a way to make them a reality (and even figure out what the hell did the Führer want to be done).

Which suited Himmler just fine – and by 1943 he became an expert at presenting his own decisions and actions as those ordered by Adolf Hitler. In other words, he pretended to follow the orders of his boss while in reality he was playing his very own game.

But the most important (and radical) change was the new position of Hermann Goering who was now an official successor to Adolf Hitler as Führer of Germany (in the event of the latter’s death).

Goering had neither the ability nor the desire (nor the resources for that matter) to run the country so he would be very much willing to make Himmler the de-facto Reich President and Reich Chancellor – if only to avoid following Adolf Hitler into a better world.

Like everyone else in Germany, Goering was afraid of Himmler – and for a good reason; and his Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers), though a formidable force, were no match for Waffen-SS.

Hence I have no doubt that by 1943 (and possibly even earlier than that), Himmler and Goering developed a plan to liquidate their boss (more precisely, to let Tresckow & Co. do it) crush the military coup, execute the traitors and quite legally assume the full power in Germany proper and German-controlled territories.

This is the only explanation why the SS-run RSD (Reichssicherheitsdienst – “Reich security service”) that protected Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders, allowed the plotters to get the bomb on board his plane (!) and the suicide bombers (!!) to come close enough to The Führer to kill him with a 100% certainty. So on about half a dozen of occasions it was the Almighty Providence, not the RSD that saved Hitler’s life.

What was Himmler’s game plan for the “Day After”? Prior to the Kursk disaster, it was obvious – make von Manstein Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht and give him a Cart Blanche for winning the war by annihilating the Red Army one battle after another.

After a year of suffering a 10:1 casualty ratio which von Manstein could deliver, Stalin would have had no other choice but to sue for peace – Brest-Litovsk style (or risk to run out of men).

The peace treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union (which obviously would give the former unrestricted access to oil and other natural resources of the latter) would automatically make war with Germany hopeless for both Great Britain and the USA as without Soviet cannon fodder and mountains of military hardware their chances of winning the war with the Third Reich were exactly zero.

So they would have reluctantly (and inevitably) signed the peace treaty with Germany on very attractive terms for the latter.

By the second half of 1943, the situation for Germany deteriorated significantly. I would say, even radically. Still, von Manstein would have been able to inflict losses on the Red Army severe enough to slow its advance substantially.

Which would have given Himmler a chance to prove to the Western Allies (via skillful diplomacy, of course) that they were fighting on the wrong side. In other words, to provide them with ample evidence (of which after Operation Barbarossa German intelligence had plenty) that the Soviet Union was an existential threat to them (and to the whole Western civilization) while the Nazi Germany was not.

In 1943 or even early 1944 (i.e. prior to the landing in Normandy), this plan would have worked. After the D-Day (and the destruction of Army Group Center by the Red Army) probably not (unbeknown to Himmler, the Americans were very close to the testing of a nuclear bomb which would stop Stalin in his tracks).

Hence the success of July 20th plot would not have changed things much for Himmler – only made his escape (leaving Goering alone in the cold) easier. Much easier, I would say. Easier enough to make a risky decision to allow the generals to blow up his boss to kingdom come.

“All of the above” proves (IMHO, beyond the reasonable doubt) that all Resistance plots (and possibly even the assassination attempt by Georg Elser) were in reality only parts of one giant Himmler’s plot.

the tools that SS-Reichsfuhrer tried to use (unsuccessfully) to get rid of his boss, achieve acceptable peace with both the Soviet Union and the Western Allies and embark on an immensely ambitious project of building the pan-European SS-Staat.

Himmler’s empire where the Mittelpunkt der Welt (the Center of the World) was to be located not in Berlin (I seriously doubt that Himmler would have pursued a technically impossible Welthaupstadt Germania project) but in Wewelsburg Castle.

Himmler was a “perverted monarchist” (his SS-Reich does look and feel like a highly distorted – dystopian even – version of a Holy Roman Empire). Consequently, it would be fair to assume that Die Neue SS (the real ODESSA – his underground Reich) was established as a monarchy of sorts.

With Heinrich Himmler as an emperor and the crown (not necessarily physical) passed to his eldest son (I have no doubt that after his escape Himmler produced quite a few children – in full compliance with the procreation ideology of the SS).

 

Assassination Attempts – Analysis and Conclusions

20190923_192302000_iOSAccording to “mainstream history” (i.e., anti-Nazi propaganda), all those who plotted the assassination of Hitler were heroes (this one is true), genuine patriots of Germany (debatable) who wanted to kill the Nazi dictator (true), bring down the Nazi regime (not necessarily) and restore democracy in Germany (never).

As usually is the case, the reality is very different – and far more complicated. As it happened (an, alas, still continues to happen), those who attempt to assassinate a political leader do it for a number of reasons – and Adolf Hitler was no exception (only the number of attempts was simply enormous – compared to other leaders).

Some do it because they are, well, clinically (and criminally) insane – i.e. Ludwig Assner, Josef Thomas and possibly Dr. Mylius; others to avenge religious (Maurice Bavaud) or ethnic (Helmut Hirsch) prosecution – or punish someone who they think was responsible for their professional and personal failures (Georg Elser).

Or the defeat of one’s nation in a war against Germany (General Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski) or make it easier to win the war with Germany (Operation Foxley). There was even an attempt by an ex-Nazi (Beppo Römer) who felt betrayed by Adolf Hitler and wanted revenge.

As you can see, none of the above had anything to do with being a patriot of Germany (let alone transforming the Nazi state into a Weimar-style democracy).

The only attempts that could have been driven by patriotism, were the ones plotted by the Wehrmacht generals – the Oster/Halder conspiracy, the July 20th plot and half a dozen (at least) assassination plots in between.

However, in reality these attempts were driven by something else entirely. Fear. In 1938, it was a (not exactly unfounded) fear that Hitler would start a war that would lead to far more disastrous consequences than the First Great War.

In 1943-44 it was fear (very well-justified by reality) that Adolf Hitler, if allowed to live and command the Wehrmacht, will inevitably lead Germany to the worst destruction and loss of life in its history (and that’s exactly what happened).

In other words, in both cases (and the plots of 1943-44 were essentially a one giant plot) the conspirators were driven by the overwhelming, passionate, noble and patriotic desire to save Germany from Adolf Hitler.

Unfortunately, it was not the only drive behind their assassination and coup attempts. Another drive (not much less powerful) was revenge and the desire to go back to the “good old days”.

All plotters – without exception – were German aristocrats who prior to Nazi coming tom power essentially owned and run the country. Making the whole nation work for them – for the elites and for the aristocracy.

Adolf Hitler turned it by 180 degrees. In Nazi Germany, despite its numerous obvious faults (and a fundamentally criminal nature), the elites were forced to work for the nation (i.e. for the German people), not the other way around. And what was previously de-facto reserved for aristocracy only, suddenly was made oven for every German – regardless of social origins.

Hitler openly admitted that his Army (Heer) was Prussian; in other words, still, despite all his efforts, run by Prussian aristocrats. Who detested the Weimar Republic – and the whole idea of democracy – even more than the Nazis.

In other words, the plotters were profoundly anti-democratic, hoping to replace Hitler with a conservative-authoritarian government (very possibly even by a monarchy), and make the country ruled by aristocratic elites again.

They had no desire to allow the general public to have any participation in the governance of the German state – which would have meant a step back compared even to Nazi Germany which surprisingly was a democracy (albeit in a highly restricted way).

Hence, although the generals did care about Germany, first and foremost they cared about their caste – the German aristocratic elites. Hardly a definition of a genuine patriotism.

However, it did not matter. Hitler was far too well-protected by the Providence (Supreme Power) for any plot to succeed. Besides, there was always Heinrich Himmler willing and able to make sure that no plotters ever achieve their objectives.

Hence, all plots and assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler were exercises in futility – cut and dry, plain and simple, loud and clear. And a colossal waste of time, energy, valuable resources and – worst of all – human lives.

July 20th Plot (3)

590921_7Incredibly, his briefcase was not searched, although on entering the inner Security Zone I, all personnel except Adolf Hitler’s inner circle were thoroughly searched, as a precaution against assassination attempts.

In order to avoid it von Stauffenberg arranged so that he entered the Zone I with Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel reckoning that an officer in Keitel’s company would not be searched.

IMHO, he was wrong – the fact that his briefcase was not searched had nothing to do with him being a part of Keitel’s entourage. Security procedures do not work that way – to be allowed inside a secure area without being searched, one had to be on a special list.

Von Stauffenberg was on that list, ostensibly because his wounds (he lost an eye, his right hand, and two fingers on his left hand) qualified him as someone who posed no security threat.

The reality was quite different, though – Himmler wanted Stauffenberg to kill Hitler and ordered him to be put on the “VIP List” to make sure he does the job. For the same reason – contrary to standard security procedures instituted after the Elser bombings – Hitler’s security detail (acting on orders from their boss – Heinrich Himmler) allowed the “Cointreau bottles” on board the Führer’s plane.

At around 12:30 pm – right before the meeting was to start, von Stauffenberg made an excuse to use a washroom in Wilhelm Keitel’s office where he used pliers to crush the end of a pencil detonator inserted into a 1 kg block of British plastic explosives (Abwehr failed to develop anything even remotely as efficient) prepared by Wessel von Freytag-Loringhoven.

The detonator consisted of a thin copper tube containing cupric chloride that in that weather conditions (extreme heat) would take about ten minutes to silently eat through wire holding back the firing pin from the percussion cap.

According to most historians, the process of arming the bomb was slow due to the abovementioned Colonel’s war wounds. Interrupted by a guard knocking on the door advising him that the meeting was about to begin, von Stauffenberg was not able to prime the second bomb, which he gave to his aide-de-camp, Werner von Haeften.

This story is a bunch of BS (pardon my French). It is impossible to perfectly synchronize even modern electronic detonators, let alone the chemical ones in 1944. Hence, priming the second bomb made no sense at all – and was not even needed as the detonation process would make sure that both bombs go off at exactly the same time (for all practical, purposes).

In reality, von Stauffenberg’s moral and religious convictions got the best of him. He wanted to kill only Hitler – and minimize the “collateral damage” (ideally making sure that no one else dies or even suffers serious injuries). So the Colonel – despite instructions by explosive experts – used only one block of plastics instead of two. This decision saved Hitler’s life – and doomed the conspirators to almost instant failure and a certain death.

Stauffenberg placed the single primed bomb inside his briefcase and, with the unwitting assistance of Major Ernst John von Freyend (at the time adjutant to Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel), who volunteered to carry his briefcase, entered the conference room where Adolf Hitler and 20 senior Wehrmacht officers have already commenced the meeting.

He positioned the briefcase under the table right next to Hitler, guaranteeing that even the one-block blast would sent the Führer straight to Valhalla (or other appropriate place in the afterworld). After a few minutes, Stauffenberg received a planned telephone call and left the room being quite sure that this time Adolf Hitler will die.

However, the Providence interfered again – big time. Colonel Heinz Brandt (at the time an aide to General Adolf Heusinger, then the interim Chief of then General Staff), trying to get a better view of the map, moved the briefcase to the other side of the stout block leg, away from Hitler. The blast thus blew away from Hitler, and ironically toward Brandt, who died from it the next day.

Another (not exactly unexpected) development that saved Hitler’s life was the change of venue for a meeting. Due to the murderous July heat, the conference was moved from the bunker to the summer bungalow thus making most of the shock wave go outside, instead of staying inside.

Hence, even a 2kg block of explosives would not have necessarily killed Hitler (although he might have been seriously injured), let alone half that much.

At 12:42, exactly ten minutes after being armed, the bomb detonated, demolishing the conference room and killing a stenographer on the spot. More than 20 people were injured with three officers later dying from their wounds.

The Führer survived, as did everyone else who was shielded from the blast by the conference table leg. His trousers were singed and tattered (see photograph below) and he suffered from a perforated eardrum, as did most of the other 24 people in the room.

Hence the result of von Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt was by and large the same as the one by Georg Elser five years earlier – several innocent people dead, many more innocents injured (some seriously) with no serious or even lasting harm suffered by his intended target.

Stauffenberg, upon witnessing the explosion and smoke, erroneously assumed that this time Hitler the assassination attempt was (finally) successful and Adolf Hitler has finally left our world and was on his Walhalla (or wherever).

He climbed into a staff car with his aide Werner von Haeften and managed to bluff his way past three checkpoints to exit the Wolfsschanze complex. Well, maybe bluff had little to do with it as Himmler, not completely sure that Stauffenberg will (finally) detonate the bomb on that date, made sure he could safely get out and away.

Werner von Haeften then tossed the second unprimed bomb into the forest (an incredibly stupid thing to do as only a complete moron would leave such evidence behind) as they made a dash for Rastenburg airfield, reaching it before it could be realized that Stauffenberg could be responsible for the explosion.

By 1pm he was airborne in a Heinkel He 111 (transport version of the venerable Luftwaffe bomber) arranged by Eduard Wagner – Quartermaster-General of the German Army.

By the time he reached Berlin at approximately 4pm, the whole plot was in a complete mess. FUBAR would have been a pretty mild way to describe it (actually, the whole situation).

The key individual responsible for this confusion was the second most important plotter in Wolf’s Lair General der Nachrichtentruppe (Communications Troops) Fritz Erich Fellgiebel who promised what he could not deliver.

He was in charge of all Wehrmacht-run communication channels between Wolfsschanze and the outside world. Hence he could (and did) severe all these channels immediately after Stauffenberg’s bomb went off.

Unfortunately, he did it before confirming that Hitler was dead (or was alive); as the result, the conspirators in the Reserve Army HQ had no clue about what actually happened to Hitler for almost three hours (!). Absolutely critical hours.

That was bad enough for the plotters, unfortunately, there was something else that made the situation much worse. Himmler’s SS (more specifically, the units responsible for Hitler’s personal security and the security of Wolf’s Lair) had their own communication channels that Fellgiebel had no control over.

Consequently, Himmler, Goebbels and other Nazi leaders knew that Hitler was alive even before the plotters did. When it became clear that the attempt had failed and that the proverbial cat was out of the proverbial bag, Fellgiebel had no other choice but to override the communications black-out he had set up and to inform his co-conspirators that the attempt on Hitler’s life failed. Again.

The situation got even more confusing when von Stauffenberg phoned from the airport to tell Olbricht et al. that Hitler was in fact dead.

The Bendlerblock plotters did not know whom to believe but now there was no turning back regardless of who was telling the truth. After wasting three crucial hours waiting for the information from Wolf’s Lair (which made no sense as after the bomb went Operation Valkyrie had to be launched regardless of whether Hitler was alive or not), Olbricht issued the initiation orders pretending that the order was given by the only individual in the Reserve Army who had the right to do so – its commander Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm.

However, the letter was way too cautious to take his deputy at his word without some kind of independent confirmation. So he called Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel at the Wolf’s Lair and was assured that Hitler was alive. Keitel demanded to know Stauffenberg’s whereabouts (by that time it was already established that the latter was the only one who could have planted the bomb).

At 16:40 Stauffenberg and Haeften arrived at the Bendlerblock. Fromm, promptly changed sides (the only decision that made sense under the circumstances) and attempted to have Stauffenberg arrested.

Olbricht and Stauffenberg restrained him at gunpoint and Olbricht then appointed General Erich Hoepner (at the time already retired from the Army) to take over his duties.

By this time Himmler (no surprise here) had taken charge of the situation and had issued orders countermanding Olbricht’s initiation of Operation Valkyrie. In many places the coup was going ahead, led by the plotters who believed that Hitler was dead.

City Commandant, and conspirator, General Paul von Hase ordered the Wachbataillon Großdeutschland – part of the Berlin Defense Force, under the command of Major Otto-Ernst Remer, to secure the Wilhelmstraße (the government district of Berlin) and arrest Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.

Major Remer was a very brave individual – and an outstanding leader. His Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves proved both points beyond the reasonable doubt. However, he was also a natural-born politician (after the war he made a rather successful foray into far-right politics in Germany).

And thus had an excellent nose for trouble. He was later quoted as saying: “I know there’s a coup going on. What I do not know is which side are we on”. To clarify things, he (wisely) decided to listen to the other side as well before issuing any orders of his own.

So he called Joseph Goebbels – the Gauleiter (Nazi Party leader) of Berlin and asked for his comments. Goebbels invited Remer to visit him in his office and in the meantime arranged for a phone call to Wolf’s Lair to speak with Hitler himself.

The Führer (always a politician) immediately promoted Remer two ranks to Oberst (the actual order was issued on the same night) and ordering him to crush the plot in Berlin with the troops under his command. Which confirmed Remer’s suspicion that he had been taking orders from the mutineers,

He returned with his troops to the Berlin Military Headquarters at Bendlerblock, and arrested the plotters, including Stauffenberg. General Friedrich Fromm, anxious to protect his butt (ultimately unsuccessfully) had the plotters immediately summarily executed by firing squad, despite Remer protests that he had been told to keep the plotters alive pending further orders from Hitler, who was at that time already returning to Berlin.

Others would have been executed as well, but at 00:30 SS personnel led by no other than Otto Skorzeny arrived and further executions were forbidden. Over the following weeks, Himmler’s Gestapo, driven by a furious Hitler, rounded up nearly everyone who had the remotest connection with the plot.

The discovery of letters and diaries in the homes and offices of those arrested (keeping these was a really dumb idea) revealed the plots of 1938, 1939, and 1943, and this led to further rounds of arrests, including that of Franz Halder, who finished the war in a concentration camp.

Under the new Sippenhaft (“blood guilt”) laws (modeled after Stalin’s practice in such cases), many relatives of the principal plotters were also arrested in the immediate aftermath of the failed plot and sent to concentration camps.

Not all of about 5,000 executed (and even of about 7,000 arrested) were connected to the plot – the Gestapo used the occasion to do away with suspected and even potential members of the Resistance.

Hitler took his survival to be a “divine moment in history” (no surprise here), and commissioned a special decoration to be made for each person wounded or killed in the blast. The result was the Wound Badge of 20 July 1944.

As a result of the failed coup, every member of the Wehrmacht was required to re-swear his loyalty oath, by name, to Hitler and, on 24 July 1944, the military salute was replaced throughout the armed forces with the Hitler Salute in which the arm was outstretched and the salutation Heil Hitler was given.

Major General Henning von Tresckow (who did not participate in the plot but was a major inspiration behind it) right before committing suicide the day after the failure of the plot said:

The whole world will vilify us now, but I am still totally convinced that we did the right thing. Hitler is the archenemy not only of Germany but of the world. When, in few hours’ time, I go before God to account for what I have done and left undone, I know I will be able to justify what I did in the struggle against Hitler. None of us can bewail his own death; those who consented to join our circle put on the robe of Nessus [poisoned shirt that killed Hercules]. A human being’s moral integrity begins when he is prepared to sacrifice his life for his convictions

I beg to disagree. IMHO, July 20th plot was a colossal waste of life with exactly zero chances of success. In one of the next sections I will prove beyond the reasonable doubt that even if the assassination attempt had succeeded, it would have resulted only in Himmler becoming the de-facto Führer of Germany.

Which could have changed the situation for the worse (possibly much worse) – not for the better. IMHO, the right thing to do for the conspirators was either to somehow get to the Western front and find the way to surrender to the advancing Western Allies.

Or passionately and efficiently fight on the Eastern front to save the Christian civilization from being conquered and destroyed by the Bolshevik hordes (something that Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS had been doing for three years by that time).

July 20th conspirators were genuine patriots and heroes, no doubt about that. Unfortunately, they were ignorant of the most basic facts about the Nazi Germany and the Allies, naïve and thus hopelessly incompetent. So it is no surprise at all that they failed – and failed miserably.

The individual who made a 100% correct prediction of the results of the plot was Helmuth James von Moltke, the great-grandnephew of Moltke the Elder, hero of the Franco-Prussian War (subsequently arrested and executed by the Nazis for activities unrelated to July 20th plot).

When asked about his opinion on assassinating Hitler, he replied that he was against it. And added: “we are all amateurs and would only bungle it” (i.e. an assassination attempt). And that’s exactly what happened.

July 20th Plotters and the Supernatural

The Supreme Being

Just about all key July plotters claimed to be devout Christians (Goerdeler even objected to killing Hitler on religious grounds). However it appears that all these characters were Christians in name only because they definitely did not believe in supernatural.

Had they believed, they would have noticed that the Reichstag Fire (a textbook Singularity Event) was an obvious Act of God (Kripo investigation dossier available to them via Arthur Nebe proved beyond the reasonable doubt that van der Lubbe acted alone – and clinically insane individuals are known to be especially sensitive to the paranormal).

They would have also noticed that time after time Hitler had been saved by almost certain death by a supernatural power. They knew about Elser, about the Munich Agreement, about inexplicable failures of all bomb plots in 1943… so they should have asked themselves an obvious question – maybe, just maybe Hitler serves the Christian God who needs him to save the Church and the whole Christian civilization from being destroyed by Bolsheviks – agents of Satan par excellence.

And so protects him – and will protect him – from any and all attempts on his life making any assassination plot, not matter how “bulletproof” an exercise in futility. Hence the best course of action just might be to leave Hitler alone with God – and make the latter make the decision on when and how to end the life of the Führer.

But they didn’t – and paid for this fundamental theological mistake with their lives – and lives of thousands of others who believed them and followed them to the gallows (or, at best, to the firing squad).

 

July 20th Plot (2)

BqY4bMOn one crucial issue, I completely agree with mainstream historians: all July 20th plotters were genuine heroes and patriots of Germany. They risked their lives to achieve highly noble objectives (and most gave their lives).

Unfortunately, there were two major problems with their objectives. First, not all of them were noble (to put it mildly). Second, even those that were noble, were… well, unrealistic.

I have stated on countless occasions that Nazi ideology created a highly distorted and thus grossly inaccurate perception of the world. To put it bluntly, the Nazis (first and foremost, Adolf Hitler) were severely delusional. Which predictably led to colossal blunders and subsequently to the defeat in the Second Great War and the demise of the Third Reich (and of all its key components).

Incredibly, July 20th plotters were even more delusional than the Nazis (definitely more so than Heinrich Himmler, for example). They could not grasp a simple truth (although it was made public many times) – the Allies were fighting not the Nazis, but Germany and, consequently, would agree only to unconditional surrender of Germany.

And the British and the Americans had no desire whatsoever to start another war – with the Soviet Union. First, they needed its support to force Japan to unconditionally surrender and second, they were (correctly) confident that they had enough resources to prevent Stalin from invading the Western Europe (let alone conquering it).

Hence, their planned demands (!!!) to Allies to return Germany to even the 1939 borders (let alone to 1914 ones) were not just fanciful, but genuinely insane. Incredibly, like just about all the rest of German resistance, the July 20th plotters believed in the idea of Greater Germany.

Hence, as a condition for peace (!!) they demanded that the Western Allies recognize as a minimum the incorporation of Austria, Alsace-Lorraine, Sudetenland, and the return of pre-1918 German territories ceded to Poland, with even restoration of some of the overseas colonies. They believed that Europe should be controlled under German hegemony (Britain would have loved the last one).

Now those were the delusions of the century – the plotters did not understand (or did not want to understand) that they were not in the position of making any demands – they had no bargaining power whatsoever. Himmler had some (actually, a lot of it) but even his hopes of negotiating an acceptable peace with the Allies were totally and completely delusional.

Their second fundamental error was that they completely misjudged the attitude of the Germans towards national-socialism. Contrary to their delusions, the overwhelming majority of Germans were totally and completely happy under Nazi regime and had no desire to return to Weimar-style democracy.

Or to monarchy for that matter (it was not entirely clear which regime they disliked more). The previous military dictatorship (a duumvirate of Ludendorff and Hindenburg) ended in disaster – the Great Hunger, the defeat in the Great War, etc., so the Germans had no desire whatsoever to repeat the experience.

Even if Adolf Hitler was dead, the Germans would have eagerly submitted to the leadership of Heinrich Himmler as the SS were not just respected in 1944 Germany – they were admired and even revered.

And, finally, they did not even suspect that Heinrich Himmler was perfectly aware of every one of their steps – even without information obtained (most likely) from his personal agent Hans Gisevius. Hence, they were but a tool of SS-Reichsfuhrer in the plot of his own.

In the summer of 1943, Johannes Popitz – a member of Resistance and an associate of Carl Gördeler (and a firm supporter of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question) – conducted secret talks with Himmler, whose support he sought to win for a coup d’état and whom he tried to convince to take part in attempts to negotiate with the Western Powers for an acceptable peace deal.

Himmler was noncommittal but that conversation gave him everything he needed to put all plotters under sufficient surveillance by his agents fiercely loyal to him personally.

There is some (albeit rather thin) evidence that Popitz was not alone in seeing in Himmler a potential ally. General von Bock (Tresckow’s boss at Army Group Center who was sympathetic to the coup) advised Tresckow to seek the support of SS-Reichsfuhrer, but there is no evidence that the latter did so (I am pretty sure he didn’t).

Goerdeler was apparently also in indirect contact with Himmler via a mutual acquaintance, Carl Langbehn (IMHO, a very real possibility). Wilhelm Canaris biographer Heinz Höhne suggests that Canaris and Himmler were working together to bring about a change of regime, but this remains (IMHO, believable) speculation.

All these errors (plus a completely delusional belief that all Wehrmacht commanders will go along with Operation Valkyrie with no questions asked) predictably resulted in a miserable failure of their childish, naïve and amateurish coup. And subsequently in a colossal loss of highly valuable lives.

Operation Valkyrie was the only remotely realistic tool for executing the military coup in Nazi Germany. It was a natural (and pretty much standard) operating procedure to secure the continuity of government operations (i.e. that the government continues to function more or less normally) in case of a general breakdown in civil order of the nation.

The latter could be caused, for example, by the Allied bombing of German cities, or uprising of the millions of foreign forced laborers working in German factories… or an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government by some kind of an internal power.

In this case the Territorial Reserve Army of Germany (where the plotter General Olbricht was the second-in-command) was given the authority to essentially establish a temporary military dictatorship, restore order and then hand power back to a legitimate government.

Friedrich Olbricht, Henning von Tresckow, and Claus von Stauffenberg modified the original plan to make it possible to legitimately take control of German cities, disarm the SS, and arrest the Nazi leadership once Hitler had been assassinated (blown to kingdom come by a powerful bomb). Hitler’s death was necessary to free German soldiers from their oath of loyalty to him.

There was a minor problem, however. On September 1st, 1939, a few hours after Poland was invaded by the Wehrmacht, Adolf Hitler officially (in his address to the Reichstag) named Hermann Goering his successor as Führer of Germany in the event of his death.

Which means that for Operation Valkyrie to remain legit, the plotters had to assassinate Goering at about (ideally, exactly) the same time as Hitler (otherwise the latter would simply cancel Valkyrie right then and there).

Unfortunately, Goering was suspiciously absent at the conferences attended by von Stauffenberg so finally the plotters had to go after Hitler alone, reckoning that they would solve “the Goering problem” later. Somehow.

Contrary to a very popular misconception, it was von Tresckow, not von Stauffenberg, who made the critical changes to the blueprint for Operation Valkyrie. Stauffenberg only obtained Hitler’s approval.

Normally a no small feat but Hitler was so impressed with the Colonel that he gave his approval without even reading the new plan – let alone studying it carefully enough to grasp its implications.

Ultimately, the plotters (correctly) decided that Himmler was not an asset, but a very much lethal liability. So they intended to kill them both if possible – to the extent that Stauffenberg’s first attempt on July 11th was aborted because SS Reichsfuhrer was not there.

Neither was Goering – and there was a feeling than none of them will ever be present, so the plotters had to go after Hitler only – and hope to take care of two others later. Somehow.

On the first day of July, Stauffenberg was appointed Chief of Staff to General Fromm at the Reserve Army headquarters on Bendlerstraße in central Berlin. This position enabled Stauffenberg to attend Hitler’s military conferences, and would thus give him an opportunity, perhaps the last that would present itself, to kill Hitler with a bomb (due to Stauffenberg’s injuries, a handgun was out of the question).

Meanwhile, new key allies had been secured. Probably the most valuable one was General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel, the German military commander in France, who would take control in Paris when Hitler was killed, and it was hoped, negotiate an immediate armistice with the invading Allied armies.

Von Stauffenberg was the only one who could lead and manage the coup skillfully enough to make it a success (no surprise here – the generals are usually lousy conspirators). Hence, the initial decision was to task someone else with blowing up Der Führer.

That “someone else” was Generalmajor Helmuth Stieff – Chief of Organization at OKH (Army High Command). As one of the officers who had occasional access to Hitler, he volunteered to kill Hitler himself in a suicide attack but later backed away despite repeated requests from Tresckow and Stauffenberg.

On July 7th 1944, during a demonstration of new uniforms to Hitler at Schloss Klessheim, a palace near Salzburg, Stieff did not have the courage to trigger the bomb. Which turned out to be a very bad decision.

On July 20th, 1944, he accompanied von Stauffenberg and Lieutenant Werner von Haeften in the Heinkel He 111 plane provided by General Eduard Wagner from the Wolfsschanze to Berlin.

On the same night, after the dismal failure of the coup, he was arrested and brutally interrogated under by the Gestapo. Stieff held out for several days against all attempts to extract the names of fellow conspirators.

Ousted by the Wehrmacht, he was tried by the infamous (Volksgerichtshof) under even more infamous Roland Freisler and (predictably) sentenced to death on 8 August 1944. At Hitler’s personal request, Stieff was executed by hanging in the afternoon of that same day at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

Due to Stieff’s sudden change of heart, Stauffenberg (who was the only other one who had a personal access to Hitler) had to kill Hitler himself. Thus taking responsibility for both assassinating the Führer and commanding Operation Valkyrie (dramatically reducing the chances for success).

The first opportunity presented itself on July 11th. However, the conspirators had (correctly) decided that Operation Valkyrie could succeed only if SS-Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler and Hitler’s official successor in case of his death Hermann Göring are killed simultaneously with the Führer.

However, that presented a major problem. Though the SS Reichsfuhrer was de-facto the third most powerful individual in the Third Reich, he was not in any way involved in managing military operations (nominally his Waffen-SS were under operational command of Wehrmacht) – so it was highly unusual for him to attend military conferences.

Göring, although very much involved in military operations, normally did not attend such conferences either, choosing to send his deputy Generaloberst Günther Korten (Chief of General Staff of the Luftwaffe) instead.

And for a good reason as Hitler (mostly incorrectly) blamed the German Air Force for its inability to protect Germany from around the clock incessant pounding (and destruction) by Allied bombers. And treated the Luftwaffe commanders accordingly.

Hence, neither of the two were present on that day – and so the attempt was aborted. Recognizing the futility of hunting for both men, the conspirators finally dropped this requirement.

So on July 15th Stauffenberg was after Adolf Hitler only. The plan was for Stauffenberg to plant the briefcase with the bomb in Hitler’s conference room with a timer running, excuse himself from the meeting, wait for the explosion, then fly back to Berlin and join the other plotters at the Bendlerblock.

Operation Valkyrie would be executed, all Nazi leaders would be arrested (or executed on the spot without trial), the Reserve Army would take control of Germany, Beck would be appointed provisional head of state, Goerdeler would be chancellor, and Witzleben would be commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

However, this attempt also had to be aborted. Curiously, both Himmler and Göring were present this time, but Hitler was called out of the room at the last moment. Stauffenberg was able to miraculously intercept the bomb and prevent its discovery.

On 18 July rumors reached Stauffenberg that the Gestapo had knowledge of the conspiracy and that he might be arrested at any time. As it turned out later, there was no truth whatsoever to these rumors, but they achieved their objective, creating a sense in the conspirators that the “net was closing in” and that the next opportunity to kill Hitler must be taken because there might not be another.

On the morning of 20 July Stauffenberg flew back to the Wolfsschanze for another Hitler military conference, once again with a bomb in his briefcase. Without realizing that he (like all other conspirators) was but a pawn in an entirely different plot.

Himmler’s plot.

July 20th Plot (1)

20 July Plot 13

July 20th plot was not just an assassination attempt – it was a full-fledged military coup (not just a plan, or an attempt at a coup – but an actual coup). The coup that failed miserably. It did, however, include an attempt on Hitler’s life – this time it was an even closer call than the Elser bomb in 1939.

It was the ninth attempt to blow up Hitler to kingdom come; the second bomb that actually went off – and the first (and only) one that exploded in the presence of Der Führer.

However, end the result was exactly the same – Adolf Hitler survived (he suffered only the loss of his beloved trousers and a perforated eardrum) and the plotters were more or less promptly arrested (all 7,000 or so of them) with most (almost 5,000) more or less promptly executed – by hanging on meat hooks with a piano wire.

The latter looked a like a really horrible method of execution as it took the condemned individual almost half an hour to die (the classic method of hanging kills the condemned in a few seconds). However, in reality it felt almost exactly the same as the loss of consciousness was pretty much instantaneous in both cases.

Although this coup was numerically far stronger than the Oster/Halder conspiracy of 1938, in reality it was far less powerful. This time, the Chief of the General Staff (Adolf Heusinger) had no clue about the plot (he was standing right next to Hitler when the bomb went off); the plotters had no control over any armored division (or Berlin garrison for that matter), etc., etc. So instead of issuing direct orders to German troops they had to rely on deception (a radically modified Operation Valkyrie)

And, of course, this time Hans Oster played no role in the coup – he was arrested by the Gestapo… for helping Jews escape Nazi Germany disguised as Abwehr agents (the guy really did not know how to prioritize his treason).

However, the list of key conspirators was still pretty impressive:

  • Colonel General Ludwig Beck – one of the key participants in Oster/Halder Conspiracy as well. Both then and in July of 1944 he was a civilian, having resigned from the position of Chief of the German General Staff and retired from the Wehrmacht on August 31st, 1938
  • Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Director of Abwehr – German Military Intelligence
  • General Alexander Freiherr von Falkenhausen, Military Commander of Belgium and Northern France
  • General Erich Fellgiebel, Chief of the Military Communications
  • Colonel (General Staff) Wessel von Freytag-Loringhoven – provided the explosives for the assassination attempt
  • Colonel General Friedrich Fromm, commander of the Reserve Army – the key tool of the plotters. Aware of the conspiracy, he refused to take any part in it; and when the plot failed, arrested and executed conspirators, including Stauffenberg, on the same day. Arrested on orders of Himmler the next day, he was executed by firing squad for “cowardice” (an appropriate charge, IMHO) on March 12th 1945
  • Major General Reinhard Gehlen, Chief of Intelligence-Gathering on the Eastern Front. His participation in the plot was not detected by the Gestapo, he survived and after the war he became the spymaster of the CIA-affiliated anti-Communist Gehlen Organization and the first director of the Federal [Foreign] Intelligence Service of West Germany. There were rumors that Himmler was perfectly aware of Gehlen’s role in the plot (the latter provided protection for key plotters) but instead of arresting and executing him, SS-Reichsfuhrer chose to recruit Gehlen into ODESSA
  • Hans Bernd Gisevius, a diplomat, an officer of the Abwehr and a key participant in both Oster/Halder conspiracy and July 20th After the latter failed miserably, he went into hiding, then fled to Switzerland. This mysterious character previously worked for Gestapo (!) but was fired over disagreements with then-chief of the latter Rudolf Diels. He went to work for the Reich Interior Ministry from where he was fired by Himmler in 1936. Or became a deep undercover agent of the latter as some conspiracy theories claim. It was rumored that Gisevius not only informed SS Reichsfuhrer on his fellow plotters but was also the liaison between Himmler and Allen Dulles – then OSS station chief in Zurich. IMHO, his miraculous survival and escape are highly suspicious, to put it mildly
  • Carl Friedrich Gördeler, ex-Mayor of Leipzig and ex-Reich Price Commissioner; he was to become the Chancellor of Germany had the plot succeeded. After his arrest on August 12th, he betrayed everyone he knew, freely giving names of numerous co-conspirators to the Gestapo (which did not lay even a finger on him), thus causing the arrests and executions of hundreds or even thousands of plotters. During his time in prison, Gördeler was asked by Himmler to assist with writing the constitution of a future SS-Staat (undoubtedly, for ODESSA/Die Neue SS)
  • Lieutenant Werner von Haeften – adjutant to Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and fellow conspirator. Executed 20 July 1944, by firing squad on orders of General Fromm
  • Lieutenant General Paul von Hase, Commander of 56. Infanterie-Division and City Commandant of Berlin. He was an active participant in the Oster/Halder Conspiracy and the uncle of a famous theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (also a member of the conspiracy)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a prominent Lutheran pastor, theologian and a key founder of the anti-Nazi “Confessing Church”. His older brother Klaus was also a member of the plot and was also arrested, tried, convicted and executed by the Nazis
  • Wolf-Heinrich Graf von Helldorf, Chief of the Berlin Police and an active participant in the Oster/Halder Conspiracy as well
  • Colonel General Erich Hoepner, Commander of the 4th Panzer Army. Another key participant of the Oster/Halder Conspiracy
  • Field Marshal Günther von Kluge – commander-in-chief of German Armed Forces on the Western front (OB West). While not directly involved knew about the plot and so committed suicide when the plot failed miserably. Probably made the right decision given the subsequent fate of Erwin Rommel.
  • Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Like von Kluge, he was not directly involved but knew about the plot. He also committed suicide – but on Hitler’s orders on October 14th, 1944
  • Colonel Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim – one of the four conspirators executed by firing squad at Bendlerblock on July 20th, 1944 on the order of General Fromm
  • SS-Gruppenführer (!) Arthur Nebe, Head of the National Police (Kripo) and a commanding officer of Einsatzgruppe B (!!). Probably the most mysterious and controversial Nazi leaders
  • General Friedrich Olbricht, who as a Chief of the Armed Forces Reserve Office initiated Operation Valkyrie. Executed on orders of Colonel General Fromm on July 20th, 1944
  • Johannes Popitz, Prussian Minister of Finance. In the summer of 1943, Popitz conducted secret talks with Heinrich Himmler, whose support he sought to win for a coup d’état and whom he tried to convince to take part in attempts to negotiate with the Western Powers for an acceptable peace deal. Thus becoming an important source of information about the plot for SS Reichsfuhrer. For some time Himmler protected him, but then decided to get rid of a dangerous witness – so Popitz was hanged on 2 February 1945 at Plötzensee Prison, in Berlin.
  • First Lieutenant Fabian von Schlabrendorff. Now this guy was lucky big time. On 13 March 1943, during a visit by Adolf Hitler to Army Group Center Headquarters in Smolensk, Schlabrendorff smuggled a time bomb, disguised as bottles of Cointreau, onto the aircraft which carried Hitler back to Germany. The bomb failed to go off, however (no one really knows why). Schlabrendorff managed to retrieve the bomb the next day and elude detection. He was put on trial (by the infamous Volksgerichtshof), but the trial was aborted when an allied bomb killed the presiding judge. He was sent to concentration camps but survived. After the war he became a Member of the Federal Constitutional Court in West Germany
  • Friedrich Werner Graf von der Schulenburg, the last German Ambassador to the Soviet Union before the invasion of June 22nd, 1941. He was a firm opponent of Operation Barbarossa and one of its fiercest critics
  • Colonel (General Staff) Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, plot leader and an unsuccessful assassin of Adolf Hitler. Executed by firing squad at Bendlerblock on July 20th 1944 on the order of General Fromm
  • Major General Henning von Tresckow – leader of several unsuccessful plots against Hitler in 1943 (but not of July 20th plot). Committed suicide on July 21st, 1944 after learning of a miserable failure of the latter
  • General quartermaster of the army Eduard Wagner, supplied a plane for von Stauffenberg that took the latter to Berlin
  • Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben the highest ranking general actively involved in the plot (also one of the leaders of Oster/Halder conspiracy)