Seventy-five years ago today, Americans across the country retrieved their morning newspapers and were greeted with headlines similar to this one:
After about a year's planning and a few aborted attempts, elements within the German Military nearly succeeded bringing off a coup against the Nazi Regime. Hitler and several German officers were conducting a strategy meeting in a bunker in Poland. One of these officers, Col. Count von Stauffenberg, smuggled in a briefcase containing a time-bomb; which he planted next to Hitler's position. Von Stauffenberg left the meeting on a pretext and the charge exploded. Hitler, however, was not killed because someone had moved the deadly briefcase, unaware of its contents during the intervening moments.
The coup ultimately failed and sadly the heroes involved in this noble mission largely have been forgotten in the West. Attempts by the Alt-RINOs/Red Pills to rehabilitate the Third Reich and the disdain of Whacko Left-Wing Academia for dead white males have caused this anniversary to pass all but unnoticed outside of Germany.
What is interesting to me is how many of the conspirators were motivated by respect for a Higher Authority than that of the State. Major-General Henning von Tresckow, who was the leader of the coup attempt was an officer on the Russian Front. Like many others, he revolted against the regime when he learned first-hand of Nazi atrocities in the East. The day after the plot failed, von Tresckow killed himself with a grenade, fearing that Gestapo torture would lead him to expose other conspirators. He said before his death to an aide:
"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. God promised Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom if only ten righteous men could be found in the city, and so I hope for our sake God will not destroy Germany. No one among us can complain about dying, for whoever joined our ranks put on the shirt of Nessus. A man's moral worth is established only at the point where he is ready to give his life in defense of his convictions."
Hitler learned of von Tresckow's involvement in the coup a few months later; and in a rage, ordered his remains exhumed and thrown to the dogs. "I cannot understand how people can still call themselves Christians and not be furious adversaries of Hitler's regime," the General said in 1943.
Count Claus von Stauffenberg came from an aristocratic family in the former German Province of Suabia. Stauffenberg at first supported the Nazis, but according to his biographers, began a growing disillusion with the regime through a crisis of faith. Stauffenberg was a devout Catholic and the horrors of Kristalnacht woke him to the government's true aims and intentions. By 1943, he was convinced of his duty to humanity and introduced to the another anti-Nazi, General Friedrich Olbricht (of whom we will say more presently). Stauffenberg is credited by all as the dynamic force within the movement; as witnessed by his willingness to carry out the assassination personally. Baron Axel von dem Bussche, a conspirator who survived the war, stated that Stauffenberg told him plainly just before the coup that: "I am committing high treason with all means at my disposal. I am justified by the right under natural law to defend millions of people's lives from the criminal aggression of Hitler."
Stauffenberg was captured in Berlin when the coup collapsed and was shot without a trial. The Nazis exacted cruel revenge on his family. A word here should be said about Stauffenberg's friend and aide, Lt. Werner von Haeften, also a Suabian aristocrat, who assisted Stauffenberg in his undertakings against Hitler.
Von Haeften was captured with Stauffenberg and put before the same firing-squad. When the orders were given to fire, von Haeften jumped in front of von Stauffenberg taking the bullets meant for his friend. Such was the caliber of men who stood up to the Nazis.
The aforementioned Major-General Friederich Olbricht was also a man of deep principle and personal courage, although little is known of his personal life. General Olbricht however was known to be a republican on principle. Unlike many of his fellow-conspirators, General Olbricht was not from the aristocracy, but the son of a fairly distinguished professor of Mathematics. He was also one of the few military officers who politically supported the Weimar Republic and were retained during the Third Reich.
What we do know of Olbricht's character can be deduced by a few anecdotes about him. In 1934, he refused to take the Loyalty Oath to Adolf Hitler on the grounds that his duty was to the German People as a whole and not to one man as an individual. For some reason, this act of insubordination was overlooked. When Hitler was purging the military leadership in 1938, Olbricht again defied Hitler by testifying in the defense of Baron von Fritsch, who was falsely accused of homosexual rape. Olbricht was shot at the same time as von Stauffenberg and von Haeften and his family buried him in a church. It's unknown what his religious convictions were; but General Olbricht seemed strongly motivated by a desire for human liberty and human rights.
During the subsequent investigations to the coup, it was learned that Olbricht intended to arrest Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler and put him on trial. Following Hitler's example with von Tresckow, the furious Himmler had Olbricht's remains exhumed and thrown into a crematorium.
When Olbricht was commanding the 24th Infantry Division on the Russian Front, he received a Chief-of-Staff named Col. Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim. Von Quirnheim was of the Bavarian aristocracy and his family were connected socially to the von Stauffenberg family. When Olbricht was sent back to Berlin to command the Reserve Army, von Quirnheim was sent back with him. Ordinarily, von Quirnheim would have taken command of the Division; but he had offended Nazi Governors Alfred Rosenberg and Erich Koch by publicly denouncing their inhumane treatment of civilians.
When Olbricht was captured, von Quirnheim rallied a desperate attempt to free him and bring the coup to a successful conclusion. Unfortunately, he too was captured and shot with the others. Like the Stauffenbergs, the von Quirnheim family suffered terribly from the vengeful Nazis.
And Nazi vengeance didn't stop there. The coup attempt's failure convinced Hitler and his fanatical followers of their own invincibility and the aftermath of the attempt was a wholesale orgy of bloodletting wherein the Nazis had free rein over anyone they hated for any reason.
Historians can quibble over whether the coup attempt was 'too little, too late' but I'm inclined to be charitable and say 'better late than never.' All of these men had risked themselves more than once in opposing the regime while the majority sat by and said nothing. Given the character and infrastructure of the Nazi Regime, a viable coup attempt was not something which could be organized overnight. The failure of the coup happened not because of principled men like we've described here; but because many of the conspirators were not motivated by the same high principles and saw it as opportunity for political advancement; or to end the war honorably; or, in some cases, to ameliorate their own culpability in the inevitable upcoming war-crimes trials. None of that detracts from the honor of the true heroes of July 20. Let us hope that they will never be forgotten.