Friday, July 19, 2013

Berlin’s Somber 69th Anniversary of Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg’s Execution

Here I'm standing at the Bendlerblock memorial for the fallen 20 July conspirators. 
Berlin, GermanyJuly 20, 1944 was the day that the first of many fine German men were executed for the last known attempt to kill Adolph Hitler
The war was a total disaster bringing dishonor and blight on the German people.  A madman with absolute power had caused the needless deaths of nearly 9,000,000 good Germans.  That does not take into account the Holocaust or the deaths of non-Germans.
A group of brave men took on the responsibility to kill Hitler risking all.  There were different failed attempts to Kill Hitler and this was the last of them. 
Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg became the leader of the group and brought a briefcase bomb to the secure field headquarters called Wolfsschanze near Rastenburg East Prussia.
Von Stauffenberg lost an arm and part of his remaining hand.  With only three fingers he was only capable of arming half of the device.  He ill advisedly discarded the unarmed half of the explosives.  There were other environmental issues that reduced the effectiveness of the device. 
The device detonated killing four and wounding 24 others.  Hitler was sparred from all but minor injuries. Von Stauffenberg escaped the Wolfsschanze and flew to Berlin to direct the coup. 
The coup ended quickly after it became known that Hitler survived the blast.  That evening at the Beldlerblock military complex five conspirators including Von Stauffenberg were arrested.  On order from General Fromm they were placed before a firing squad and executed in the courtyard. 
General Ludwig Beck asked for and was given a pistol so he could dispatch himself with dignity.  The others, Gen. Fredich Olbricht, Col. Albrecht Mertz Von Quirnheim ant Lt. Werner Von Haeften faced the firing squad with Von Stauffenberg.
Eventually the Gestapo rounded up 7,000 men and women that they somehow connected to the plot. Many were relentlessly tortured and eventually nearly 5,000 were put through sham show trials and garishly and slowly hanged at the Plotzensee prison using wire.
Every year on this date the surviving families gather for an invitation only ceremony at the Bendlerblock.   They vet the attendees very carefully to prevent disruptions by Neo-Nazi sympathizers.  
Below I have two videos that I shot and edited of my visit to the Bendlerblock military complex that also houses the German Resistance Museum.  The other was shot  at the Plotzensee Prison execution chamber.  The videos were shot with a tiny Flipcam but I think you will find them interesting and watchable.

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