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Why didn't von Stauffenberg become a suicide bomber in the Hitler assasination plot?


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I never did understand this part. He must have known that if Hitler survived Operation Valkyrie, he and his family would be dead. As well as all the co-conspirators. He should have just held the bomb briefcase and stood next to Hitler when it when off. That way, he would die and so would Hitler. Placing the briefcase on the floor under the table near Hitler and then leaving the room is absolutely no guarantee that the bomb would do its job. I feel if you are going into this type plot, your life is already forfeit so you might as well go all out. Really don't understand this mindset at all.

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Stauffenberg has been criticized for trying to execute both the hit and run Valkyrie afterwards. He seems to have thought himself a little too indispensable in either function. The problem is, he may have been right, given the previous long history of failed assassination attempts on Hitler. He very much brought structure and drive to the organization, and nothing moved after the hit until he got back to Berlin.

Of course that's a point he should have delegated the attempt to someone else; but then again some previous operations had failed because the would-be assassin had faltered in Hitler's presence, and Stauffenberg had established for himself that he was not afflicted by such weakness. In the end, Hitler just had an inordinate amount of luck surviving the dozens of attempts which were made on him, though Stauffenberg came closest to success.

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1 hour ago, BansheeOne said:

Stauffenberg has been criticized for trying to execute both the hit and run Valkyrie afterwards. He seems to have thought himself a little too indispensable in either function. The problem is, he may have been right, given the previous long history of failed assassination attempts on Hitler. He very much brought structure and drive to the organization, and nothing moved after the hit until he got back to Berlin.

Of course that's a point he should have delegated the attempt to someone else; but then again some previous operations had failed because the would-be assassin had faltered in Hitler's presence, and Stauffenberg had established for himself that he was not afflicted by such weakness. In the end, Hitler just had an inordinate amount of luck surviving the dozens of attempts which were made on him, though Stauffenberg came closest to success.

I would also add that the Germany army was notoriously untrained in the fine art of performing coups, so Von Stauffenberg's drive was needed or the plotters would just sit and wait in line like good German revolutionaries... :D

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1 hour ago, On the way said:

I never did understand this part. He must have known that if Hitler survived Operation Valkyrie, he and his family would be dead. As well as all the co-conspirators. He should have just held the bomb briefcase and stood next to Hitler when it when off. That way, he would die and so would Hitler. Placing the briefcase on the floor under the table near Hitler and then leaving the room is absolutely no guarantee that the bomb would do its job. I feel if you are going into this type plot, your life is already forfeit so you might as well go all out. Really don't understand this mindset at all.

He was Chief of Staff of the Ersatzheer, that was everything Army stationed inside Germany. If Hitler had been killed the chain of command would have been without a head and a designated No.2, putting the Ersatzheer in place to take charge by default. 

 

BTW, he didn't need to go suicide bomber. He brought two bombs, manged to arm only one and utterly failed to realize that the detonation of the first would set off the second. So he didn't put it in the suitcase. 

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I did not know there were other assassination  attempts on Hitler's life? And going a bit off topic, why is it that Communists are not thought of as the same thing as Nazi's. Same results as far as I can tell. Seems like two sides of the same coin to a Mid-Westerner in the U.S.

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There was a looong string of attempts by a variety of plotters since even before Hitler became chancellor. Per Wiki, at least 42; though only a few got to the point where they would be noticed by the public, like the Munich Bürgerbräukeller bomb plot by Johann Georg Elser in 1939 which killed eight and injured 62 - but not Hitler, who had left the annual commemoration of the 1923 "Beer Hall Putsch" earlier than expected.

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I wonder if he had placed the suitcase other side of table support. That'd have directed blast straight to Adolf. 

History might be different, maybe not much, but maybe less people would have been dead.

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Well, someone found the briefcase to be in the way, and moved it to the far wall of the Wolfsschanze. Which probably was what saved Hitler's life.

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1 hour ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Iirc, wasn't it supposed to be in the nearby bunker, and they ultimately held the conference in a small building that allowed the blast to vent?

There was a lot of what ifs.

Mythbusters made an episode about the event, and it was quite interesting. 

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14 hours ago, BansheeOne said:

Stauffenberg has been criticized for trying to execute both the hit and run Valkyrie afterwards. He seems to have thought himself a little too indispensable in either function. The problem is, he may have been right, given the previous long history of failed assassination attempts on Hitler. He very much brought structure and drive to the organization, and nothing moved after the hit until he got back to Berlin.

Of course that's a point he should have delegated the attempt to someone else; but then again some previous operations had failed because the would-be assassin had faltered in Hitler's presence, and Stauffenberg had established for himself that he was not afflicted by such weakness. In the end, Hitler just had an inordinate amount of luck surviving the dozens of attempts which were made on him, though Stauffenberg came closest to success.

A, why does anything need to be done, even if the assassination attempt failed. Even if von Stauffenberg was a lone wolf, acting on his own, if he had killed Hitler and himself in the process, there will be an almost immediate power struggle to see who will succeed Hitler. Who will win and who will kill off most of his rivals? Himmler? Goebbels? Bormann or one of the generals like Keitel? Maybe even Rommel? Any of these people except maybe Goebbles would have been amenable to some deal with the Allies. Which is the ultimate aim of the assassination

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12 hours ago, BansheeOne said:

There was a looong string of attempts by a variety of plotters since even before Hitler became chancellor. Per Wiki, at least 42; though only a few got to the point where they would be noticed by the public, like the Munich Bürgerbräukeller bomb plot by Johann Georg Elser in 1939 which killed eight and injured 62 - but not Hitler, who had left the annual commemoration of the 1923 "Beer Hall Putsch" earlier than expected.

Per Wiki article, I did not know this. Believe or not, there were too many coincidences of Hitler living through events that one must think of demonic favor. 

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7 hours ago, On the way said:

A, why does anything need to be done, even if the assassination attempt failed. Even if von Stauffenberg was a lone wolf, acting on his own, if he had killed Hitler and himself in the process, there will be an almost immediate power struggle to see who will succeed Hitler. Who will win and who will kill off most of his rivals? Himmler? Goebbels? Bormann or one of the generals like Keitel? Maybe even Rommel? Any of these people except maybe Goebbles would have been amenable to some deal with the Allies. Which is the ultimate aim of the assassination

Yes, but the elephant in the room is that the allies didnt WANT a negotiated settlement to the war. They wanted unconditional surrender. Lets say Rommel or the General staff purges all the others. They rock up at Eisenhowers door, suggesting an armistice and a withdrawl from Western Europe. And... the allies tell them to stick it, because they have a deal with Stalin. What have they achieved? Nothing but putting a noose around their necks at Nuremburg. The war might last a little longer, but the end is no longer in doubt.

The whole operation was flawed, because they assumed the problem was the German leadership. It wasnt. The problem was the war, and Germany's ardent prosecution of it, whilst things were going well. Why were the allies going to accept peace just because the Germans wanted out? If they wanted out, there was surrender. There was no other option on the table. Himmler himself tried in Switzerland in 1945. Nobody was really very interested.

I still think killing Hitler was laudable, and they have my utmost admiration for that. But lets not mistake them all for Democrats in Uniform. Few of them had issues with Hitler a decade earlier when he was rebuilding the German Army. They mostly  only had issues when he started losing.

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The motivations for the Valkyrie plot were about as diverse as the number of people that were part of the whole plot. Some did it out of Christian belief, the one or other was a democrat, some believed there could be a military dictatorship without Nazis, and most probably acknowledged that their chances of success were remote at best even if they killed Hitler, but felt that it was necessary to do anyway "for the record" (and one might argue that as a symbolic attempt it actually was successful). And yes, the more optimistic guys were under the illusion that they could negotiate a peace, and under the illusion that the western allies were afraid enough of Bolshevism that they would want Germany to fight a proxy war against Stalin.

There can be no doubt however, Hitler still was popular among the German population, even as late as 1944. So the removal of Hitler itself didn't make the coup popular (Goebbels had public radio report "the tragic death of the beloved Führer" as a bait to see who was going to support the conspirators, and there was widespread display of dismay and anger among the population), but in any case: Valkyrie hinged on the idea that general contingency plans could be redirected to support the assassination, so that the Wehrmacht would be pitched against Nazi figureheads using their trusted SA and SS formations to nip the coup as early as possible. And for that you needed the leader of the Ersatzheer, and for that v. Stauffenberg was indispensable, but he was also one of the few with personal access to Hitler, so... too many hats. Arming the bomb with just one eye and one arm wasn't exactly easy either, it was a bit of a surprise that they got this far at all.

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8 hours ago, Rick said:

Per Wiki article, I did not know this. Believe or not, there were too many coincidences of Hitler living through events that one must think of demonic favor. 

Believe or not, the thought has struck more than one, including myself. Hitler himself believed he was protected by providence to fulfill his historic mission for Germany, and various people expressed that idea after the 20 July attempt; IIRC including Mussolini who visited him at the Wolfsschanze later the same day and got a tour of the scene.

Speaking of suicide bombers, there were in fact two such attempts at a presentation of captured Soviet weapons and of new uniforms respectively in 1943, where officers planned to blow themselves up with explosives hidden on their body while holding Hitler in a death embrace. In either case Hitler left early, and one would-be assassin barely managed to disarm the timer before smoking himself alone afterwards.

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4 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Yes, but the elephant in the room is that the allies didnt WANT a negotiated settlement to the war. They wanted unconditional surrender. Lets say Rommel or the General staff purges all the others. They rock up at Eisenhowers door, suggesting an armistice and a withdrawl from Western Europe. And... the allies tell them to stick it, because they have a deal with Stalin. What have they achieved? Nothing but putting a noose around their necks at Nuremburg. The war might last a little longer, but the end is no longer in doubt.

The whole operation was flawed, because they assumed the problem was the German leadership. It wasnt. The problem was the war, and Germany's ardent prosecution of it, whilst things were going well. Why were the allies going to accept peace just because the Germans wanted out? If they wanted out, there was surrender. There was no other option on the table. Himmler himself tried in Switzerland in 1945. Nobody was really very interested.

I still think killing Hitler was laudable, and they have my utmost admiration for that. But lets not mistake them all for Democrats in Uniform. Few of them had issues with Hitler a decade earlier when he was rebuilding the German Army. They mostly  only had issues when he started losing.

Ok, lets say we go with your scenario and say Hitler is successfully assassinated. Rommel shows up at Eisenhower's door shortly after and asks for a negotiated settlement. Ike says no way, its an unconditional surrender or nothing. Rommel, knowing full well how it will all play out militarily is the one who is more  likely to say yes, versus Hitler who would 100% say no. In fact, if Hitler was alive, there is zero chance of an unconditional surrender. With whoever ends up replacing a dead Hitler, there is a better chance, depending on who it is. Is that such a bad thing, for say Rommel to unconditionally surrender and shave 1 year off the war and countless German lives? Some under the table deal can always be worked out with Ike. eg the germans could divert most of their armies to the eastern front and hold off the russians while leaving token resistance in the west for the the western allies to take over all of Germany, all of Poland, Czech republic, etc.. before the unconditional surrender. The allies would love to deny as much of central europe as possible to the russians. 

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2 hours ago, BansheeOne said:

Believe or not, the thought has struck more than one, including myself. Hitler himself believed he was protected by providence to fulfill his historic mission for Germany, and various people expressed that idea after the 20 July attempt; IIRC including Mussolini who visited him at the Wolfsschanze later the same day and got a tour of the scene.

Speaking of suicide bombers, there were in fact two such attempts at a presentation of captured Soviet weapons and of new uniforms respectively in 1943, where officers planned to blow themselves up with explosives hidden on their body while holding Hitler in a death embrace. In either case Hitler left early, and one would-be assassin barely managed to disarm the timer before smoking himself alone afterwards.

Wasnt there a bomb put on his plane, and it failed to go off?

I seem to remember a book by Joachim Fest, where he said there was a group of the Army planning to move against Hitler to stop the planned Czechoslovakian war. And it got put off, because of Munich. Which was the basic plot of Robert Harris's Munich book.

2 minutes ago, On the way said:

Ok, lets say we go with your scenario and say Hitler is successfully assassinated. Rommel shows up at Eisenhower's door shortly after and asks for a negotiated settlement. Ike says no way, its an unconditional surrender or nothing. Rommel, knowing full well how it will all play out militarily is the one who is more  likely to say yes, versus Hitler who would 100% say no. In fact, if Hitler was alive, there is zero chance of an unconditional surrender. With whoever ends up replacing a dead Hitler, there is a better chance, depending on who it is. Is that such a bad thing, for say Rommel to unconditionally surrender and shave 1 year off the war and countless German lives? Some under the table deal can always be worked out with Ike. eg the germans could divert most of their armies to the eastern front and hold off the russians while leaving token resistance in the west for the the western allies to take over all of Germany, all of Poland, Czech republic, etc.. before the unconditional surrender. The allies would love to deny as much of central europe as possible to the russians. 

Ok, so what happens? The Army offers an unconditional surrender, the Soviets take Eastern Germany without having to fight for it, and the plotters, if they arent hung at Nuremburg, live the rest of their lives knowing they created another 'Stabbed in the back' myth that will bend Germany out of shape for the foreseeable future. Besides, some of these guys supported the Nazi's aims (recovering German land in Czechoslovakia, recovering land in Poland and Alsace) and now they give it all up, without being forced to? I dont see it. And I have to ask how many Germans at that point in the war would have accepted it either. If they could get terms that end the war in the west, and keep their gains, they would love that. But nobody was going to offer them those terms by 1944. Probably not even in 1940.

I dont think Rommel or the rest would have minded the Western allies occupying Germany. It was the Russians. And unfortunately for them, they were over 2 years late to stop that happening.

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6 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Wasnt there a bomb put on his plane, and it failed to go off?

I seem to remember a book by Joachim Fest, where he said there was a group of the Army planning to move against Hitler to stop the planned Czechoslovakian war. And it got put off, because of Munich. Which was the basic plot of Robert Harris's Munich book.

Ok, so what happens? The Army offers an unconditional surrender, the Soviets take Eastern Germany without having to fight for it, and the plotters, if they arent hung at Nuremburg, live the rest of their lives knowing they created another 'Stabbed in the back' myth that will bend Germany out of shape for the foreseeable future. Besides, some of these guys supported the Nazi's aims (recovering German land in Czechoslovakia, recovering land in Poland and Alsace) and now they give it all up, without being forced to? I dont see it. And I have to ask how many Germans at that point in the war would have accepted it either. If they could get terms that end the war in the west, and keep their gains, they would love that. But nobody was going to offer them those terms by 1944. Probably not even in 1940.

I dont think Rommel or the rest would have minded the Western allies occupying Germany. It was the Russians. And unfortunately for them, they were over 2 years late to stop that happening.

I don't know about all that. But at the time of Operation Valkyrie, July 20, 1944, the Allies were still stuck in Normandy trying to reduce the Caen perimeter. But all the senior German officers can see the writing on the wall. The russians were far away, fighting halfway in Ukraine under Operation Bagration. I suppose lets say Rommel in this case could have ordered token resistance of even German military evacuations of France, Holland, Belgium, etc. and move all these units back to Germany and redeployed to the eastern front. What I am trying to say is that if Hitler's replacement, lets say Rommel, could have fixed it such that the British/American/French frontline would be all the way east of Germany at the time of unconditional surrender. If the germans allowed the Americans token resistance right up to the Ukrainian border then signed the unconditional surrender, that is where the Russians would have stopped. Hence ensuring that the whole of Germany would be under American/British and French control rather then half russian and half western allies. And poland would also be under ABF control.

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End the war by killing Hitler before spring 1945, and you get a generation or more of Dolchstosslegende.  Hard as it was for all concerned at the time, prosecuting the war right to the forcible occupation of nearly all of Germany and the near total destruction of its war machine saved Europe from another rematch.

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2 hours ago, On the way said:

I don't know about all that. But at the time of Operation Valkyrie, July 20, 1944, the Allies were still stuck in Normandy trying to reduce the Caen perimeter. But all the senior German officers can see the writing on the wall. The russians were far away, fighting halfway in Ukraine under Operation Bagration. I suppose lets say Rommel in this case could have ordered token resistance of even German military evacuations of France, Holland, Belgium, etc. and move all these units back to Germany and redeployed to the eastern front. What I am trying to say is that if Hitler's replacement, lets say Rommel, could have fixed it such that the British/American/French frontline would be all the way east of Germany at the time of unconditional surrender. If the germans allowed the Americans token resistance right up to the Ukrainian border then signed the unconditional surrender, that is where the Russians would have stopped. Hence ensuring that the whole of Germany would be under American/British and French control rather then half russian and half western allies. And poland would also be under ABF control.

Convincing the Soviets not to have an occupation zone in Germany would not be possible.  Convincing Western public opinion of it would be difficult and there would at least be a very vocal minority if not majority in opposition.

There was a relatively large Communist controlled Polish army in the east which could likely occupy Poland before the London based government in exile and its forces could return.  A post war Poland in those circumstances might be interesting times in the Chinese sense.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Wasnt there a bomb put on his plane, and it failed to go off?

I seem to remember a book by Joachim Fest, where he said there was a group of the Army planning to move against Hitler to stop the planned Czechoslovakian war. And it got put off, because of Munich. Which was the basic plot of Robert Harris's Munich book.

Yeah, see the Wiki link upthread. The bottle plot was actually depicted in the Tom Cruise movie "Valkyrie", though it was more than a year before the Stauffenberg attempt and it wasn't von Tresckow who handed over the gift box. The 1938 plot involved some of the same later conspirators and would have entailed storming the Reich Chancellery, arresting or killing Hitler, and restoring the monarchy under Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, the grandson of Wilhelm II. Though it has been pointed out there wasn't much planning on how to get rid of the rest of Nazidom between A and B, to the point some historians doubt they were serious.

At any rate, Hitler's "success" in Munich (which he really didn't want of course) pretty much paralyzed the military resistance until Stauffenberg came along and actually introduced some post-assassination planning.

Edited by BansheeOne
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4 hours ago, R011 said:

End the war by killing Hitler before spring 1945, and you get a generation or more of Dolchstosslegende.  Hard as it was for all concerned at the time, prosecuting the war right to the forcible occupation of nearly all of Germany and the near total destruction of its war machine saved Europe from another rematch.

But only by the few very stupid. July 44 wasn't November 18. Things were going south since late 42/early 43. By the time of the attempted coup, even the Normandy landings had succeeded. 

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7 hours ago, On the way said:

I don't know about all that. But at the time of Operation Valkyrie, July 20, 1944, the Allies were still stuck in Normandy trying to reduce the Caen perimeter. But all the senior German officers can see the writing on the wall. The russians were far away, fighting halfway in Ukraine under Operation Bagration. I suppose lets say Rommel in this case could have ordered token resistance of even German military evacuations of France, Holland, Belgium, etc. and move all these units back to Germany and redeployed to the eastern front. What I am trying to say is that if Hitler's replacement, lets say Rommel, could have fixed it such that the British/American/French frontline would be all the way east of Germany at the time of unconditional surrender. If the germans allowed the Americans token resistance right up to the Ukrainian border then signed the unconditional surrender, that is where the Russians would have stopped. Hence ensuring that the whole of Germany would be under American/British and French control rather then half russian and half western allies. And poland would also be under ABF control.

For once I bellieve Stuart nails it. I would add that the plotters weren't killing Hitler to end up seeing Germany occupied. if the allies don't agree to a negotiated peace, the war will continue, but what may change is that the Hitler insistence on not giving up ground anywhere would be substituted by a more flexible approach, which may or may not work better and make the war last enough to get Berlin nuked.

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