Hitler lied about supporting socialism

The second World War

Dr. Thomas Vogel

Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Thomas Vogel, born in 1959, is project division manager at the Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr (ZMSBw), formerly the Military History Research Office (MGFA), in Potsdam. He has long been interested in the military opposition in the 'Third Reich' and the resistance of soldiers against National Socialism. For several years he has been dealing more intensively with various aspects of warfare in the age of the world wars, most recently with coalition warfare in particular. He has, inter alia. published: "Uprising of conscience. Military resistance against Hitler and the Nazi regime, 5th edition, Hamburg et al. 2000 (publisher and author); Wilm Hosenfeld:" I try to save everyone. "The life of a German officer in letters und Tagebüücher, Munich 2004 (ed. and author); Tobruk 1941: Rommel's Failure and Hitler's Success on the Strategic Sidelines of the 'Third Reich', in: Tobruk in the Second World War. Struggle and Remembrance, ed. v. G. Jasiński and J. Zuziak, Warsaw 2012, pp. 143-160; "A fruit knife for chopping wood." The battle for Stalingrad and the failure of the German allies on Don and Volga 1942/43, in: Stalingrad. An exhibition of the Military History Museum of Bundeswehr, edited by G. Piecken, M. Rogg, J. Wehner, Dresden 2012, pp. 128-141; A War Coalition Fails in Coalition Warfare: The Axis Powers and Operation Herkules in the Spring of 1942, in: Coalition Warfare: An Anthology of Scholarly Presentations at the Conference on Coalition Warfare at the Royal Danish Defense College, 2011, ed. v. N. B. Poulsen, K. H. Galster, S. Nørby, Newcastle upon Tyne 2013, pp. 160-176; The First World War 1914-1918. The German deployment into a warlike century, Munich 2014 (co-publisher and author).

The image of the resistance of Germans against Hitler and his regime during the war is diverse. Several thousand people bravely stood up to the regime. Of course, they formed a tiny minority in the German population.

Helmuth James Graf von Moltke (1907-1945), head of the "Kreisau Circle", before the "People's Court" in January 1945. (& copy Federal Archives)

After Hitler came to power in 1933, the National Socialists used brutal methods to "eliminate" their political opponents in Germany. Those who think differently have been silenced in various ways. At the same time, successes in economic and foreign policy gave the Nazi regime broad support from the German population. Even the conservative elites saw National Socialism as an ally in the struggle against socialism and communism. The violence of the regime, the state persecution of the German Jews of the other minorities and the harassment of the Christian churches therefore seldom aroused open opposition.

Beginnings of a military opposition

General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944) (& copy Federal Archives)
There was also little criticism of National Socialism from the Wehrmacht. The military profited enormously from Hitler's rearmament policy and willingly supported his aggressive foreign policy for years. This unity was disrupted in early 1938 when Hitler dismissed the Reich Minister of War and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army under questionable circumstances after cautious objections to his foreign policy. But only the dangerous course of war that Hitler embarked on almost simultaneously with the annexation of Austria and against Czechoslovakia led to serious opposition, at least in parts of the military leadership. The army chief of staff, Ludwig Beck, tried in vain to persuade Hitler to give in and the generals to protest together.

Colonel Hans Oster (1887-1945) (& copy Federal Archives)
When Beck therefore resigned in August 1938, he left a small circle of like-minded officers from the Army General Staff and the military intelligence service, the "Abwehr", in Berlin. This nucleus of a military opposition soon established links with critics of the regime in other parts of the state apparatus, especially in the Foreign Office. When the Sudeten crisis intensified in September 1938, the first conspiracy to overthrow the Nazi regime arose. Its engine was Lieutenant Colonel Hans Oster from the "Abwehr". He had the support of Beck's successor, Franz Halder, and the commander in the Berlin military district, Erwin von Witzleben. However, the coup did not come about; the conspirators lacked a trigger when Hitler achieved his goals in the Sudeten crisis without war.
After Hitler's new foreign policy triumph, the conspirators gave up their plans for the time being. It seemed hopeless to overthrow a regime that had more popular support than ever. This assessment paralyzed the military opposition well into the war. The initially successful German warfare did not lead to the expectation of allegiance for a coup, especially in the Wehrmacht. A new initiative aimed at preventing the war from spreading in the autumn of 1939 therefore failed at the outset. Oster therefore went so far as to betray German intentions to attack in the West to other countries.

Source text

Draft for a government declaration by the Beck / Goerdeler government from the summer of 1944

"After the business of the Reich government has been entrusted to us, it is our duty to announce the principles by which we will lead the government and to communicate the goals we are striving for.

1. The first task is to restore the perfect majesty of law. The government itself must be careful to avoid any arbitrariness, it must therefore submit itself to an orderly control by the people. During the war, this control can only be arranged for the time being. In the meantime, honest, knowledgeable men from all classes will be called; We will be available to answer all questions and we will seek their advice. Above all, however, we will instruct them to determine precisely the inheritance that we have taken over in all areas. Every German will feel with us more or less consciously how difficult it is. We refuse to introduce Hitler's responsibility by insulting his opponent. Rather, we consider it imperative to ascertain the facts from which responsibility will arise with decency and conscientiousness. As far as the war permits, the report those men will write will be made known at once; As far as this is temporarily possible, the complete announcement will be made as soon as the situation permits. We were once proud of the legality and honesty of our people, of the security and quality of the German administration of justice. All the greater must be the pain of all of us to see it almost destroyed.

No human community can exist without justice; no one, even those who think they can despise it, can do without it. The hour comes for everyone when he calls for justice. In his order of the universe, in his creation of men and in his commandments, God has given us the necessities of law, its just and impartial application. He has given us insight and strength to create the earthly institutions for his security. It is a crime not to obey this order. To do this, it is necessary to restore the judges' independence, immigration and removal from office. We know well that many of them acted only under the pressure of extreme terror, but it will be checked with indomitable rigor whether judges have also committed the crime of pronouncing justice against the law and conscience. You will be removed; In order to restore the people's trust in the administration of justice, laypeople will participate in the reaching of judgments in all criminal matters. This also applies to the standing courts that are temporarily set up.

The law will be purified. It is not up to the judge to create new law; he has to apply the law and to do it in the most embarrassing way. It is not up to the judge to take account of a worldview which itself does not know what it wants and which sees its program severely defaced by its leaders. It is unbearable for people to be judged who could not have known that what they did was a criminal offense. If, for example, the state has retrospectively declared actions of its organs to be exempt from punishment, which are in fact punishable, these exemption provisions will be repealed as incompatible with the nature of the law and those responsible will be held accountable.

The law is enforced against anyone who has violated it. All law breakers will receive the punishment they deserve. The security of people and property will once again be protected against arbitrariness. According to the law, only the judge is allowed to intervene in these personal rights of the individual, which are indispensable for the existence of the state and for the happiness of the people.

The concentration camps are being disbanded, the innocent are released, and the guilty are brought to justice.
But we also expect no one to be lynched. If we want to restore the majesty of law, we must use all our energies against personal retribution that arises from the passion for violated law, which from the wounding of the soul would only be humanly understandable. Anyone who has anything on their minds report to which public place they want. His ad will be forwarded to the right place. But the ad must be true. Untruthful advertisements are penalized, anonymous advertisements go to the trash.

2. We want to restore morality in all areas of private and public life.
In our people, who used to be so pure, corruption has been brought up by high and high dignitaries to an extent that has never been seen before in the world. While our soldiers fight, bleed and fall, lose their limbs outside, men like Göring and other greats lead a luxury life, steal precious stones, paintings and other valuable items, fill their cellars and floors with supplies, urge the people to persevere and back off cowardly their followers before the victim out there. All evildoers will be called to account with all the severity of the law, property that has been acquired dishonestly will be confiscated and given back to the injured. The UK positions for political reasons have been abolished. Every able-bodied man can prove at the front what he is and what his will to persevere is about. We don't want to tolerate sticking out anymore.

To ensure justice and decency is the decent treatment of all people. The persecution of the Jews, which took place in the most inhuman and merciless, deeply shameful and irreparable forms, stopped immediately. Anyone who believed that they could enrich themselves from Jewish wealth will find out that it is a shame for every German to strive for dishonest possessions. The German people really do not want to have anything to do with such marauders and hyenas among the creatures created by God.

We feel it is a deep dishonor of the German name that crimes of all kinds have been committed in the occupied territories behind the backs of the fighting troops and misusing their protection. The honor of our fallen is tainted with it.

Anyone who used the war time out there to fill their pockets or otherwise strayed a millimeter from the line of honor will be held accountable. The punishment will be particularly severe for those who, from this hour on, are found for any offense against the general rules of international law and against the laws of humanity. The individual learns the first rules of humanity in the family. One of the most distinguished tasks of the state is to restore it as the primordial cell of the ethnic community. For this he needs the help of his parents, the strength of religion, the cooperation of all churches. A clean and healthy family life can only be built on a serious, responsible conception of the cohabitation of marriage. The fight against double standards must be declared if our children are not to go to waste; for how can parents demand cleanliness from children who do not discipline themselves and who set the best example for the children. The life of our people will only be healthy when families become healthy again.

We do not want a division of our people. We know that many entered the ranks of the party out of idealism, bitterness over the dictate of Versailles and its repercussions over many national unworthiness, others under the extreme pressure of economic and other means of pressure. The people may not divorce according to this. We hope that we can all agree that the only distinction that needs to be made is between crime and unscrupulousness on the one hand, and decency and cleanliness on the other. On this basis we want to pursue the internal reconciliation of the people with all our might. Because only if we remain united, albeit on the basis of justice and decency, can we survive the battle of fate that God is forcing our people to face.

3. We declare war on lies, the sun of truth should dissolve its thick fog. Our people have been lied to in the most shameless way about their economic, financial, political and military events. The real facts will be established and disclosed so that each individual can verify. It is a grave mistake to assume that a government is allowed to lie to the people for its goals. God knows no double moral in his order. The lies of the governments are also short-legged and are always born out of cowardice or lust for power. Success in asserting national status, happiness of the people and peace of mind of the individual can only be built on truthfulness. We will therefore do the rest to serve her in every instruction of the people. Truths are often harsh; but the people, who can no longer tolerate them at all, are lost anyway. The individual can only muster the right strength if he sees the situation as it is. The mountaineer who underestimates the height of the summit to be climbed, the swimmer who does not measure the distance to be covered correctly, will see his strength used up prematurely. Everything that has to do with artificial propaganda has therefore been dissolved; this applies to the Reich Ministry of Propaganda as well as to the Wehrmacht's propaganda formations, which are misused for acting, even for unscrupulousness. The life and death of our soldiers do not need propaganda; it is deeply impressed in the heart of every German woman and mother, indeed every German at home.

4. The broken freedom of spirit, conscience, belief and opinion is restored.
The churches are given the right again to work freely for their confession. In the future they will live separated from the state because they can only do their job independently and at a distance from any active political activity. The work of the state will be filled with Christian sentiment in word and deed; for we owe the rise of the white peoples to Christianity, we owe the ability to fight the bad instincts in us. No national and national community can do without this fight. But real Christianity also demands tolerance towards those of different faiths, yes towards every free thinker. The state will again give the church the opportunity to be active in the spirit of true Christianity, especially in the areas of welfare and education.
The press should be free again. In war it must submit to the restrictions that are indispensable for a country in any war. Everyone who reads a newspaper should know who is behind that newspaper. The press will no longer be allowed to tell the untruth, consciously or negligently. The editors will ensure that the laws of decency towards everyone and the duty towards the welfare of the fatherland are also observed in the press by means of a strict honorary jurisdiction.

5. Above all, it is the German youth who are calling for truthfulness. If there was any need for evidence of man's divine nature, here we have it. Even the children, in a natural awareness of what is true and what is lies, ashamed and indignant, turn away from the untruthfulness of opinion and speech that is expected of them. It was probably the greatest crime to disregard and abuse this sense of truthfulness and with it the idealism of our youth. We therefore want to protect and strengthen it - one of our main concerns is youth and their upbringing. This upbringing should primarily be left to the parents. In all schools, the elementary basic knowledge must be implanted simply, loudly and safely in the child. Education must again be as general as possible, encompassing heart and mind.The premature specialization of education that is to blame for so much will be removed. It is irresponsible as no one can foresee where the growing child's best abilities will develop.
Education must again be consciously placed on the Christian-religious basis without violating the Christian laws of extreme tolerance towards people of different faiths. On this basis, the educational system must again be directed calmly and steadily and be protected from constant changes and unrest.

6. The administration must be reorganized. What is proven will not be overturned. But it is necessary to immediately restore clear responsibility and the freedom to make independent decisions. Our once so proud administration has become a heap of pointlessly executing machines and machines. Nobody dares to come to an independent and correct decision. We will ask the officials to do the opposite. With little writing they should do what is right in the greatest simplicity.

The official must again become an example in his entire conduct of office and life; for the people have entrusted public sovereignty to him. This is only allowed to be exercised by those who are louder, have acquired expertise, have hardened their character and demonstrated their ability to perform. The party registrar is put to an end. The official should again follow the law and his conscience alone. He must be aware and worthy of the award that the national community grants him a secure life, while others have to struggle for the bare minimum. Secured in his reputation and in his rights, he should be absorbed in the ideal striving to do justice to his special position through special fulfillment of duties.
In order to enable the civil servants to work properly again and to spare the people from exercising public sovereignty by unworthy people, all appointments and promotions carried out since January 1, 1933 are declared provisional. Every single officer will be checked to see whether he has violated the law, the disciplinary law or the decency required by each officer. If this is ascertained, the corresponding inferences are carried out through punishment, dismissal, transfer, etc. The civil servants' courts of honor will be involved. Temporary civil servants whose performance does not meet the requirements of their office will be transferred to positions they are equal to or, if this is not possible, dismissed. Luxury does not belong in public offices, but comfort belongs in the home of the individual. The heads of the authorities are instructed to take the necessary measures immediately.

7. Order of administration, fair distribution and fulfillment of community tasks are only possible on the basis of a constitution. A definitive constitution can only be established after the end of the war with the consent of the people. Because the soldiers at the front have a right to play a particularly important role in this. So we must all be content for the time being with a provisional constitution that will be promulgated at the same time. We are also bound to them.
Prussia is absorbed into the empire. The Prussian provinces, like the rest of the German states, are, partially combined, Reichsgaue. The self-administration of these Reichsgaue, the districts and communities is assigned public tasks, which is somehow compatible with Reich unity and purposeful leadership of the Reich. As soon as any elections are possible, real self-government will be restored in connection with the people. For the time being, a provisional order ensures that she appoints honest men to her administrative and advisory body and that she can work independently.
In all Reichsgau the supervision on behalf of the Reich will be exercised by Reichsstatthalter, whose appointment is imminent. They will hold back as much as possible in relation to the organs of self-government, but will just as vigorously ensure the unity of the Reich.

8. During the war, the economy can only continue in the previous constitution of the coercive economy and the monitored circles. As long as there is a shortage of essential goods, as everyone will understand, a freer economy is not possible, unless one cold-heartedly wanted to go back to the order of the day over the life interests of the underprivileged. We know very well how disgusting this economy is, that it does not, as is so often claimed, serve the real interests of the ultimate consumer. For the time being, we can only simplify it and free it from ambiguities, the confusion of responsibilities and the lack of a sense of responsibility. We will also repeal all measures which have interfered too deeply with the freedoms of the individual and which have destroyed economic livelihoods in trade, handicrafts, trade, industry and agriculture without deliberation or imperative.

If this is unavoidable during the war, as it is in all other warring states, then we are just as clearly pursuing the goal of restoring full economic freedom and the path to the goods of the world. This must not be disturbed by state intervention that stifle the joy of creation and the possibility of creation, but economic freedom should only be tamed by law, by ensuring fair competition and by decent attitudes. In view of the scarcity of raw materials in our fatherland and the fact that we cannot feed ourselves on our soil alone, self-sufficiency is a cowardly renunciation of the possibility of sharing in the goods and services of the whole world through exchange of services.

It is the goal of a just economic order that everyone is given a share of the economic goods that corresponds to his performance. It is not just a question of establishing the free initiative of capital ownership and forcing it to compete for performance. No, the German worker must and will be given the opportunity to participate creatively in responsibility. Only we cannot release him from the effects of the natural laws that prevail in the economy. Property is the basis of all economic and cultural progress; or man gradually sinks down to the animal. It is therefore protected, not only in the hands of the big owner, but also in the hands of the smallest owner, who only owns household items. The misuse of property will be fought just as much as the superfluous agglomeration of capital, which only increases people's lack of independence.

The order of economic activity will be built on self-administration. The previously practiced system of maneuvering from above is canceled. It is important to bring the independence of the decision and thus the responsibility back to a beneficial effect; it is necessary to restore the confidence of everyone, including the workers, in the justice of the economic order to the greatest possible extent. Here, too, courts of honor must ensure decency.

9. This gives rise to the content of the state policy, social policy aimed at equilibrium. It should protect weakness through no fault of your own and give you the opportunity to secure yourself against the adversities of this life in solidarity. It should also occur where the interest in preserving savings (capital) contradicts the interest in securing the labor power of those who are now living. Such conflicts of interest can arise in times of great political and economic tension. It would be very frivolous to solve it in such a way that it simply destroys capital, i.e. savings. That would not please the little saver any more than it would serve the interests of the people as a whole if, for example, all farms and all industries were suddenly without machines. On the other hand, none of these capital goods have any value if they can no longer be used to preserve the people who are now living. So it is important to find a fair balance with a sense of responsibility and conscientiousness, in which each individual can be aware from the outset that sacrifices must be made by him as by everyone else.
To the extent that the strength and responsibility of the individual professions and branches of the economy are not sufficient for such balancing, all economic citizens must step in, and in the worst case, a fair balance on the shoulders of the whole people must be ensured by the state. As far as social institutions concern the worker, they are given the right to full self-administration.

But we all need to know that the state does not have inexhaustible resources. He too only lives from what his citizens achieve and give to him. More than he has available from this power of his citizens, he cannot give out to individual citizens either. We therefore reject with all clarity and determination to make promises of economic well-being. Each of us knows that those who have gone to waste their savings have to do a lot if they want to regain their usual standard of living. So it is in the family, in every club, and in the state too. All other ideas are pointless. Cheap promises that the state can do anything are unscrupulous demagogy. You are the state with your might. We and the organs of the state are only your trustees. Everyone has to stir his strength. It is obvious that after the tremendous annihilation of this war, all of our labor must be particularly great in order to create replacements for clothing, for destroyed homes and workplaces, as well as for destroyed household effects. And finally we want to enable our children to have a better life again. But we are convinced that we are all capable of this, if only we can create again in law, decency and freedom.

10. The basic requirement of a healthy economy is the order of the public budgets. The expenses must be kept within the scope of the real income that the state, districts, districts and municipalities can draw from their citizens. It takes effort, character, renunciation, and struggle to restore that order; but it is the most important and indispensable basis for a secure currency and all economic life. The value of all savings depends on it. Without them, foreign trade, on which we have been dependent for more than a hundred years, is not possible either.

The taxes will be substantial; but all the more indomitable we will ensure that they are used sparingly. It is more important that the citizen is given what is necessary for life than that the administrations furnish themselves with splendid institutions and tackle tasks which are in contradiction to the simple way of life of the individual. We also demand this kind of insight from the economy, which has to be made aware again that expenditure in administration only serves the comfort or the need for recognition of individuals, but must be borne by everyone in higher prices or by the workers in lower wages. The elimination of the enormous expense of the party is already the beginning of the cure.

Since 1933, the basis of orderly national budgets has been abandoned by the incessant and unscrupulous squandering of funds through increasing debts. It was easy to fool the people into believing that they had succeeded in raising general prosperity through waste. In truth, the means was pathetic, for it consisted of unrestrained debt accumulation. We shall therefore establish the utmost simplicity and thriftiness in all public services, especially in a war in which every state is forced to make enormous expenditures. A real settlement can only be reached after the end of this war.
We see a tremendously great danger in the growing debt burdens of all belligerent and neutral states. They threaten the currencies. After this war, every state will find itself faced with an extremely difficult task. We hope to be able to find solutions for the repayment of debt if we succeed in re-establishing a trusting cooperation between the peoples.

11. But there is still war. In him all of our work, sacrifice and love are due to the men who defend the fatherland. We have to supply them with everything we can create in terms of spiritual and material values. We are in rank and file with them, but now we all know that only those sacrifices necessary for the defense of the fatherland and for the well-being of the people, but not those that serve the desire for conquest and the need for prestige of a madman, require, and that we will purify this war from afar Hands, with decency, will lead with the honesty that distinguishes every good soldier. Our full care belongs to the victims of this war so far. They don't expect pampering, but love and the opportunity to make something useful out of their life.

In caring for the front we must combine what is necessary with the greatest clarity and simplicity, with the back and forth of bombastic, impracticable orders that today require unmanageable quantities of armored vehicles, tomorrow of aircraft and the day after tomorrow of other weapons and equipment. is over. Only what is necessary and expedient will be required. In contrast to the previous despotic tyranny, we expect everyone who is called to execute to point out errors and discrepancies in good time.

12. We have warned of this war which has brought so much suffering to all humanity and therefore we can speak with boldness.
We were and still are of the opinion that there were other ways of safeguarding our vital interests. If national dignity demands that we renounce bitter accusations at the moment, we will see to it that here too the responsibilities are fully clarified and those responsible, insofar as they are Germans, are brought to justice. As necessary as this is, it is more important that we strive towards peace. We know that we are not the only masters of war and peace; we are dependent on the others. We know this, but it would be unworthy to be sorry about it now. We have to endure and shouldn't be surprised when it echoes out of the forest as it was called into it. But we want to finally raise the voice of the real Germany. The Chancellor will announce our thoughts on peace over the radio.

We are deeply imbued with the fact that the world is facing one of the most serious decisions the peoples and their leaders have ever consciously faced. God himself asks us the question of whether we want to conform to the order of justice set by him and to respect his commandments, freedom and human dignity as well as to help and follow one another or not. We know that this order and these commandments have been terribly violated since the peoples left the path of blessed peace in 1914. Now we are faced with the question of whether we will use the bitter experiences we have had to go through and turn to reconciliation, the just balance of interests and the healing of the terrible damage through cooperation.

At this hour we have to call out to you that it is our most important task to bravely and patiently wash clean the often dishonored German name. We Germans alone can and must meet them. Our future depends primarily on our relentlessly serious and sincere doing, no matter how it is materially. Because God is not there to be called upon as providence at every fair opportunity, but he also demands and watches that his order and his commandments are not violated. It was a terrible aberration, whose roots go back to the unfortunate dictate of Versailles and which in the meantime has received some food for which Germans are not responsible, to assume that our future is built on the misfortunes of other peoples, on the oppression and the contempt for human dignity could be. We fought against it and complain that we can only publicly address this aberration today. We all do not want to offend the honor of other peoples. What we ask for ourselves, we must and want to allow everyone else. We believe that it is in the interests of all peoples that peace be permanent. It can only do this if it is fair and paves a broad path for the arms, the minds and the hearts to work together.

Trust cannot be forced or talked into. But whatever the future may bring: we hate the cowardly insults of the enemy and are convinced that all leaders not only want the best of their peoples, but a fruitful end to this struggle and are ready with us, soon the inhuman ones and finally on to alleviate all peoples retroactive hardships of the carelessly unleashed total war. (Here follows an intervention resulting from the situation.) With this awareness and trust in the inner strength of our people, we will unwaveringly take the steps that we can take towards peace without harming our people. We know that the German people want it.

Let's go the way of justice, decency and mutual respect again! In such a spirit we all want to do our duty.If we follow the commandments of God written in our conscience seriously and in all respects, even if they are tough on us, we do everything to heal wounded souls and to alleviate suffering. Then alone we can create the basis for a secure future for our people in a family of nations that is once again filled with trust, healthy work and peaceful feelings. To do this with all our strength and with holy seriousness, we owe our fallen, whose patriotism and self-sacrifice have been maliciously abused. How many of them who had recognized this, the fulfillment of duty became a bitter conscience! How much beautiful human happiness has been destroyed all over the world!

So God give us insight and strength to make sense of these terrible sacrifices for the benefit of generations! "


Source: German Resistance Memorial Center, Berlin, 2008. Draft government declaration by Ludwig Beck and Carl Friedrich Goerdeler. The original is lost; the present version has been reconstructed from the documents of the special commission investigating the assassination attempt of July 20, 1944. Editor: Petra Behrens, Prof. Dr. Johannes Tuchel.

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The road to the assassination attempt and coup d'état of July 20, 1944


With the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the military opposition received a new impetus. She drew her motivation essentially from the knowledge of the criminal character of the National Socialist war of annihilation in Eastern Europe. In addition, the understanding grew that Germany would lose the war and, like Hitler, would be doomed to ruin. The still small military opposition gained popularity. On the Eastern Front, a resistance group was formed around Colonel Henning von Tresckow, and another in occupied Paris around the
Valkyrie order of the conspirators of July 20, 1944 (& copy Federal Archives)
military commander there, Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel. Berlin remained the center of the conspiracy. From 1942 onwards, a circle around General Friedrich Olbricht drafted new coup plans under the code name "Valkyrie" in secret collaboration with Tresckow.

From the spring of 1943, several assassinations on Hitler were prepared on the new basis. His death was supposed to create the conditions for a coup, a subsequent political reorganization in Germany and the quick end of the war. All assassination plans failed in an unfortunate way, but were not discovered either.

The conspiracy was given a new dynamic when Lieutenant Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg was transferred to Berlin in October 1943. His personality and function
Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg and his later co-conspirator Major Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim, photo from 1942. (& copy Federal Archives)
made him particularly suitable for completing the overturning plans. Stauffenberg's bomb attack on July 20, 1944 in the "Führer Headquarters" in East Prussia survived Hitler slightly injured. The coup therefore did not find the necessary support in the Wehrmacht and collapsed on the same day. Stauffenberg and his closest co-conspirators fell victim to an instant arbitrary act. Very few of the other participants were able to evade the Gestapo (Secret State Police) by fleeing or by suicide. Most, about 200 people, were
The People's Court with Roland Freisler as chairman. (& copy German Resistance Memorial Center)
sentenced to death by the "People's Court" and executed; Uninvolved family members disappeared into "kin detention" until the end of the war.

The assassination did not permanently shake the Nazi regime. From then on it was only more brutal against the enemy inside. Hitler's will to conduct "total" warfare continued unabated and cost more lives than ever. It was only after the war that the great symbolic effect of "July 20th" could unfold: The founding fathers of the Federal Republic of Germany invoked its spiritual and moral legacy and thus made it a founding myth of the West German state. In the German population, on the other hand, the "July 20th" only found overwhelming recognition very late.

From the investigation report of the Gestapo on the "Technique of the Stauffenberg Talks"
Resistance against National Socialism - Places of the attempted coup on July 20, 1944 (graphic opens as PDF) (& copy bpb)

Civil resistance circles inside and outside the conspiracy

The assassination attempt and coup d'état of July 20, 1944 were carried out by officers. However, their act was based on a network of military and civilian resistance groups. In any case, especially with a view to the reserve officers involved in the conspiracy, it is difficult to distinguish between civil and military in a war society. In this respect, "July 20, 1944" was the work of a civil-military conspiracy.

Source text

"The course of July 20, 1944"