July 1944 Plot to Assassinate Hitler
Who were the July 20th Conspirators?
The conspirators came from different segments of German society. However, the key conspirators would come from the Wehrmacht (German Army), German Military Intelligence (Abwehr) or the German Foreign Office.
By the middle of 1943, Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a veteran of the African campaign, emerged as the driving force behind the next attempt to remove Hitler.
What Were Their Motivations?
• Hatred of Nazi excesses.
• Desire for a more favourable peace treaty with the Western Allies.
• At all costs, avoid a Soviet occupation of Germany.
• Deteriorating military situation - By July 1944, the Allies clearly had the upper hand. The conspirators realized that the time for action had arrived.
• Gestapo - The conspirators realized that the Gestapo was closing in on them rapidly. If they did not act quickly, they may not get another chance.
The Attempted Coup
On July 20th, Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg placed a bomb under a conference room table at Hitler’s Headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia.
Stauffenberg then left the room to take a telephone call. After he was gone, the bomb exploded. He believed but did not confirm that Hitler was dead.
He left by plane for Berlin.
Events in Berlin
The coup quickly collapsed after Hitler’s survival is confirmed.
Stauffenberg and his accomplices are quickly arrested and executed.
A total of some 7,000 people are placed under arrest; almost 5,000 are executed.
If Stauffenberg Had Succeeded, Would It Have Made a Difference?
There is no definitive answer to this question.
• Even if it had succeeded, simply eliminating Hitler may not have been enough to destroy National Socialism.
• While they were many army officers who hated Hitler and Nazism, they were also conflicted about violating their personal oath of allegiance.
• The Allies insisted on Germany’s unconditional surrender. It is doubtful that the leadership of the German Army would support such a step.