Skip links

Valkyrie and the German Resistance: Remembering the July 20th plot

The conference room at the Wolf's Lair soon after the assassination attempt on Hitler on June 20, 1944 (Wikipedia / Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1972-025-10 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)
The conference room at the Wolf’s Lair soon after the assassination attempt on Hitler on June 20, 1944 (Wikipedia / Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1972-025-10 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

We cannot understand the resistance unless we first accept “that German conservatives and nationalists might be moral and religious men who were appalled at the lawlessness, brutality, and inhumanity of the Nazis.”

The vital point running through all these questions is the totalitarian claim of the state over the citizen to the exclusion of his religious and moral obligation towards God.
First Lieutenant Graf Yorck von Wartenburg, Valkyrie conspirator

One of the most intriguing fields of World War II history deals with the German Resistance—a clandestine network of disillusioned military officers and civil servants who began actively plotting against Hitler’s government as far back as 1938.  After the war began, the resistance gained new momentum by recruiting Catholic nobleman and Wehrmacht colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, under whose leadership the conspirators appropriated a homeland defense plan called Valkyrie. Per the Valkyrie protocols, martial law would be imposed upon the Reich to restore order in the event of a national catastrophe. But if Hitler were to be assassinated, Stauffenberg reasoned, SS and Gestapo officials could be framed for the assassination and accused of attempting a coup, thereby giving high-ranking conspirators within the army a pretext to seize control of the country and dismantle the political establishment.

As Randall Hansen explains, the conspirators were driven by a complex mix of motivations:

The core of the military resistance – Henning von Tresckow and, from 1942, Claus von Stauffenberg—turned against Hitler for three reasons that, though separate, were by no means mutually exclusive […] Hitler was wrecking the army, sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to their deaths, and slaughtering millions of innocent civilians in the process. Relatively few turned against the Nazis solely out of concern for Hitler’s victims (Henning von Trescow was one), but the atrocities deeply offended German officers’ sense of honour.  This offence, combined with the effect of Hitler’s leadership on the German army and its soldiers’ lives, helped push many more into the resistance column.

Read more at…


Share with Friends:

Leave a comment