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Claus Schenk Graf Von Sta Essay Research

Claus Schenk Graf Von Sta Essay, Research Paper From autumn 1943 on, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg becomes a decisive factor in the struggle against Hitler. In 1933, he initially

Claus Schenk Graf Von Sta Essay, Research Paper

From autumn 1943 on, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg becomes a

decisive factor in the struggle against Hitler. In 1933, he initially

feels that National Socialist policy offers Germany favorable

opportunities but is soon alienated by the regime’s racial ideology.

Yet Stauffenberg only assumes an active role in opposing the regime

once he realizes the consequences of German policy in eastern Europe

and can estimate the full extent of the damage that Hitler’s war has

brought upon Germany and Europe.

Under the influence of Henning von Tresckow, General Friedrich

Olbricht, and First Lieutenant Fritz-Dietlof Graf von der Schulenburg

of the army reserve, Stauffenberg becomes a focal point of the military

conspiracy. He establishes important links to civilian resistance

groups and coordinates his assassination plans with Carl Friedrich

Goerdeler and Ludwig Beck, and with the conspirators waiting in

readiness in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and at Army Group Center.

Stauffenberg’s Way to the Assassination Attempt of July 20, 1944

In early April 1943, Stauffenberg is severely wounded in Tunisia,

barely escaping death. During the months of his convalescence, he

gradually comes to realize he must take an active part in resistance.

Even in earlier years, the church’s struggle, the persecution of the

Jews, and the crimes in eastern Europe have alienated Stauffenberg from

the National Socialist state. His closest confidant is his brother

Berthold, who has had contacts to the opposition for a long time. After

an extended period of convalescence, Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von

Stauffenberg is appointed to the post of chief of staff of the General

Army Office in October 1943. From June 1944 on, he also serves as chief

of staff for the commanding officer of the Ersatzheer (Reserve Army),

General Friedrich Olbricht, at Olbricht’s request. In this position he

has clearance to attend briefings at Hitler’s headquarters in the

so-called “Wolf’s Lair” near Rastenburg in East Prussia. Olbricht

informs Stauffenberg of his plans for a coup and introduces him to

members of the resistance groups around Ludwig Beck and Carl Friedrich

Goerdeler.

Stauffenberg has a great deal of charisma and is valued for his

professional expertise. He brings many opponents of the regime together

and makes close friends among them not only military officers but also

Social Democrats like Julius Leber, members of the Kreisau Circle like

Adam von Trott zu Solz, and representatives of the labor union movement

like Jakob Kaiser and Wilhelm Leuschner.

The Planning of Operation “Valkyrie”

The conspirators from the civilian and military resistance groups

realize that the military leadership cannot be induced to act in

concert. They concentrate their efforts on eliminating Hitler, gaining

control of the military chain of command, and assuming the

responsibilities of government in Germany.

They make use of plans developed for putting down civil disturbances

and insurrections by the foreign slave laborers. These plans provide

for entrusting executive power and military authority to the commander

of the Reserve Army in such cases.

The conspirators alter these plans, code-named “Valkyrie,” several

times, adapting them to the respective applicable conditions. With the

aid of the “Valkyrie” orders, they intend to gain control of key

government, Party, and Wehrmacht offices in Berlin so they can pave the

way for the coup throughout Germany and at the front.

Hitler’s Headquarters “Wolf’s Lair” near Rastenburg in East Prussia

In the winter of 1940-41 immediately before the invasion of the Soviet

Union in June 1941, Hitler establishes his new headquarters near

Rastenburg. During the following years, extensive bunker systems are

built, which are sealed off from the rest of the world by restricted

areas. The extensive forests of East Prussia, the moors of the

surrounding countryside, and the location of the headquarters beyond

the range of Allied bombers appear to offer the greatest possible

measure of protection. As German troops advance far into the Soviet

Union, a second Fhrer’s headquarters is established at Vinnitsa in the

Ukraine. The importance of the “Wolf’s Lair” in Prussia increases as

the Wehrmacht retreats, and the site becomes Hitler’s preferred

location. When several attempts to eliminate Hitler by assassination

fail in 1943, the conspirators decide to kill him here in the central

bastion of his power.

The Assassination Attempt of July 20, 1944

Despite great difficulties, Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg

succeeds in arming a bomb and planting it under a map table in Hitler’s

vicinity a few minutes before a briefing in the “Wolf’s Lair.”

Stauffenberg is able to leave the room without being noticed and

observes the detonation from a safe distance. Unfortunate coincidences

prevent the attempt from succeeding, and Hitler survives. The heavy oak

table he is leaning over when the bomb explodes shields his body.

Yet Stauffenberg is convinced that his assassination attempt has been

successful. Together with his adjutant and fellow conspirator Werner

von Haeften, he succeeds in leaving the headquarters for Berlin within

minutes of the explosion immediately before the area is sealed off.

July 20, 1944, in the Bendler Block

After the assassination attempt, valuable hours are lost in Berlin

before the “Valkyrie” orders can be issued. Executive power is to be

transferred to the commander of the Reserve Army. Key command centers

and communication facilities must be occupied, and the SS units

stationed in Berlin must be kept away from the center of the conspiracy

on Bendlerstrasse.

The conspirators rely on Berlin’s city commandant, a few friends in

important positions, and Berlin’s chief of police. A few members of

civilian resistance groups come to the Bendler Block. Even a few

younger officers stationed in Potsdam assume functions here. They are

joined by some other officers who have purposely not been informed

about the coup during its initial phases but who follow the orders of

the conspirators.

The Failure of the Coup Attempt of July 20, 1944

The conspirators hope to be able to mobilize formations in Berlin and

throughout Germany against the National Socialist leaders through

normal command channels. To do so, they require intact lines of

communication.

Since Hitler has survived the bombing, the conspirators’ helpers at

Hitler’s headquarters are not able to interrupt telephone and radio

communications with the outside world for long. This puts Hitler,

Himmler, Bormann, and Keitel in a position to issue countermanding

orders late in the afternoon that frustrate all the conspirators’

efforts. Many officers in key positions on Bendlerstrasse and in the

military districts now cite their oath of allegiance and remain loyal

to Hitler.

Friedrich Fromm, commander of the Reserve Army, refuses to join the

conspirators. Late that evening he orders the execution of the four

main conspirators by a firing squad.

After the Assassination Attempt

After the unsuccessful assassination attempt, Hitler addresses the

German public in a radio speech. He depicts himself as an instrument

of “providence,” accusing “a small clique” of ambitious officers of

having committed treason in their hunger for power.

The following days bring with them a profusion of speeches avowing

loyalty. Appeals, newspaper articles, and speeches are staged to stir

up public sentiment throughout Germany. The aim is to irreversibly

transform the Wehrmacht into a mainstay of National Socialist ideology

while neutralizing the influence of the officer corps. The propaganda

soon begins to take effect. Accounts of public morale give the

impression that Hitler is again able to kindle renewed enthusiasm among

the German people. While many bulletins are exaggerated, many Germans

undoubtedly disapprove of the assassination attempt.

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