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Autographs of the German Resistance & July 20 plot



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#81 ColinRF

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 18:48

Thanks for the observations Patrick.

"The countless thousands of Germans who died in the war must surely have died for a new Germany, or else they died for nothing at all, there is no third possibility. This Germany does not yet exist, but it is coming, we are struggling to help it, and when we fight for Germany, we are fighting for a new Europe."

Theodor Haubach grew up in Darmstadt where he volunteered for the army in World War One. He was commissioned in the field and was wounded eight times. In 1919, he began the study of philosophy with his close friend and co-resister to be, Carlo Mierendorff. Both became socialist student leaders of the at the University of Heidelberg. Even in the twenties, Haubach bitterly opposed the Nationals' soon to be the National Socialists. He had a reputation for being icily calm and even remote in debate, while being fiery in political actions. His knowledge of philosophy and politics made for a strong intellectual combination.

In 1923, Haubach received his doctorate in philosophy and joined the Institute of Foreign Affairs in Hamburg. A year later, he became assistant editor of the Hamburg Echo where he worked in support of the Weimar Republic. In 1930 he joined the Prussian Ministry of the Interior as Press Officer and subsequently took the post of Press Officer at the Berlin police department.

Haubach, a known socialist, was arrested and rearrested over the early days of the Nazi regime. He spent two years in KZ Esterwegen. After his release, he worked as an insurance agent. After his third release form prison, Haubach's friend Victor Bausch, gave him a job in a paper factory.

In 1943, Haubach was approached by Helmuth James von Moltke's Kreisau Circle. He attended at least one of its landmark meetings with fellow socialists Mierendorff, Leuschner and Leber. When Mierendorff was killed by an Allied bomber in '43, it was Theo Haubach who composed an epitaph for the paper in the name of all his friends.

Haubach was arrested on August 9, 1944 by the Gestapo. In January 1945, he was sentenced to death by Freisler and executed. He left this quote, which could be considered an epitaph for the resistance movement:

"Now the limits of violence are that it may well destroy the person who resists, but not the force of resistance. Of course if it were actually possible to wipe out all the people who were inspired by the spirit of resistance against tyranny, the destruction would amount almost to the annihilation of the spirit itself; but what cannot be destroyed is the memory of the event, should such annihilation take place?"

It is noted that most of Haubach's philosophical papers were burnt or destroyed. Only a few letters survive him, of which the card below is one.

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Edited by ColinRF, 20 March 2009 - 20:05 .


#82 ColinRF

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 20:01

Based on Wiki - Andreas Hermes was an agricultural specialist who also served as a Christian Democrat minister and who resisted Nazism. Hermes was a native of Cologne. He studied agriculture and philosophy at the universities of Bonin, Jena and Berlin. After graduation, he taught agriculture and was an agricultural adviser to a livestock breeder. In 1906, he was awarded a doctorate by Jena University for a thesis on 'the optimisation of the rotation?. Before and during the First World War, he served in various scientific and advisory functions in the agricultural field.

In 1919 he was appointed to the Reich Ministry for Economic Affairs in Berlin. In 1920 he became Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture and from October 1921 to August 1923 he headed the Reich Ministry of Finance. From 1924 to 1928 he was a member of the Prussian parliament and from 1928 to 1933 he was also a member of parliament as a Centre Party representative. He was president of the Reich Association of German agricultural co-operatives from 1930 to 1933 and President of the Association of German Farmers' Associations, that was renamed the Christian Association of German Farmers' Associations in 1931.

He openly opposed the Nazis from 1933 and served four months in prison. In 1936 he went into exile in Colombia, returning to Germany at the outbreak of war in 1939. He developed close contacts with Goerdeler and the Kreisau Circle. Hermes was to have been the Minister of Agriculture in the post-coup transitional government had the July 20 bombing succeeded.

As a result of the Gestapo finding his name on the plotters? proposed cabinet list, he was arrested and sentenced to death by the People?s Court on 11 January 1945. Due to the efforts of wife his execution was postponed. He was one of the last of the prisoners released from the Lehrterstrasse prison and he narrowly avoided the summary SS executions of death row prisoners that took place there in the last few days of the war.

The letter below was written to executed resister Ulrich von Hassel in 1924.

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Edited by ColinRF, 20 March 2009 - 20:50 .


#83 ColinRF

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 03:16

Turning to the Eastern Front and Tresckow's resistance cell within the staff of Army Group Centre:

"The assassination must be attempted at all costs. Even if it should not succeed, an attempt to seize power in Berlin must be made. What matters now is no longer the practical purpose of the coup, but to prove to the world and for the records of history that the men of the resistance dared to take the decisive step. Compared to this objective, nothing else is of consequence."

Henning von Tresckow was the primary mover of the German resistance movement for the period 1943 and 1944. Through his direct involvement in multiple assassination attempts and coup plans, Tresckow showed himself to be Hitler's most indefatigable enemy. Had he managed to secure access to Hitler, there can be no doubt that he would have carried out the attack with his own hands without second thought.

Tresckow grew up in a noble Prussian family with a long tradition of military service. He fought in WWI as one of the youngest soldiers carrying the rank of Leutnant and at the Second Battle of the Marne, he earned the Iron Cross. At that time, his commander in his 1. Guards Infantry Regiment, Count Siegfried von Eulenberg, presciently said: "You, Tresckow, will either become chief of the General Staff or die on the scaffold." In 1920, Tresckow left the army to study law and to run his family's estate in the Neumark region. He rejoined the Reichswehr two years later. In the inter-war period, he served in the 9th Potsdam Regiment, a unit that Axel von dem Bussche justifiably claimed saw more officers executed for treason against Hitler than any other. In 1936, he attended the Kriegsakademie where he graduated top of his class. Subsequently, he was appointed to the army's prestigious General Staff.

Like many other members of the old nobility and officers of the army, Tresckow initially found some aspects of the National Socialist agenda to be somewhat attractive; particularly their plans for rearmament and repudiation of the hated Treaty of Versailles. The 'Night of the Long Knives' in 1934 sewed some initial doubts, while Kristallnacht and the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair completely alienated him by the end of 1938. Prior to the commencement of the war, Tresckow was heavily involved in scenario analysis and war planning. It was then that he concluded that Hitler's aggressive plans would plunge Germany into an unwinnable cataclysm, particularly in the East.

In 1939, Tresckow served in the Polish campaign on the staff of 228. Infanterie Division. In 1940, he was on the staff of Heeresgruppe A during the campaign in France. At the Compiegne surrender ceremony, Oberstleutnant von Tresckow appears in newsreel footage escorting the French delegation from the famous railroad car where the surrender was signed. For the 1941 Russian Campaign, Tresckow was assigned as Chief of Staff to Heeresgruppe Mitte (Army Group Centre or AGC), then under the command of his uncle GFM Fedor von Bock.

It was here in Central Russia that Tresckow went down in history as the most ardent of those who sought Hitler's removal from power. As AGC Chief of Staff, he was very well informed of the war crimes committed by Einstazgruppe B, then under the command of another conspirator, Artur Nebe. Tresckow also had occasion to see the infamous 'Commissar Order' that required all captured Russian political officers to be executed without trial, even if taken in uniform. In his role as AGC Chief of Staff, Tresckow provided the linkage between the military and civilian elements of the resistance that were respectively personified by Ludwig Beck and Carl Goerdeler. He was heard to state that it was necessary to "shoot Hitler like a mad dog."

Tresckow was promoted to Oberst i.G. in 1942. He filled his staff almost entirely with anti-Hitler officers. These included his nephew Fabian von Schlabrendorff, Rudolf von Gersdorff, the two von Boeselager brothers, Bernd von Kleist, Hans-Alexander von Voss, Georg Schulze-B?ttger, Hans-Ulrich von Oertzen, and several other senior officers. During his tenure at AGC, Tresckow actively lobbied the various Field Marshals to resist Hitler and to agree to join in the various coup attempts. Despite openly voicing his anti-Hitler views to GFMs von Bock, von Kluge, von Manstein and von Rundstedt, he got no support. On the bright side, none reported his clearly treacherous activities to the authorities and most signalled a willingness to support a new government after a successful coup.

Tresckow planned several failed assassination plots against Hitler. In March 1943, Tresckow had a hand in enticing Hitler to visit AGC HQ at the front. Several assassination attempts were planned but not carried out due to the risk of hitting innocent bystanders or due to Hitler's security precautions. On March 13, 1943, following a rare visit by the F?hrer's to AGC headquarters, Tresckow and his ADC von Schlabrendorff managed to talk Oberst Heinz Brandt (who would ironically be killed by Stauffenberg's July 20, 1944 bomb) into taking two wrapped bottles of Cointreau to General Stieff at Wolfschanze. The Cointreau was a cleverly discussed plastic bomb with a British acid time fuse that had been flown into AGC headquarters for this express purpose by Abwehr chief Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Tresckow had arranged with General Olbricht in Berlin to launch a coup upon news that Hitler's plane had exploded and crashed. Giving rise to one of the great "what ifs" in history, the detonator fired but the plastic did not ignite, possible due to cold cabin conditions. Hitler arrived safely and a panicked call was made to General Stieff (not at that time a conspirator) telling him not to open the Cointreau as the wrong item had been sent. Von Schlabrendorff was immediately dispatched to Wolfschanze to retrieve the evidence and ascertain what had gone wrong. A week later Tresckow tried again!

On March 21, on the annual 'Heroes Memorial Day' remembrance ceremony, AGC invited Hitler, G?ring and Himmler to view a display of captured Russian war materiel at the Berlin arsenal, or Zeughaus. This presented a rare and not to be missed opportunity to remove Hitler and his two most likely successors at one sweep. Oberst von Gersdorff, AGC's counterintelligence officer, volunteered to carry plastic explosive in his uniform pockets and to sacrifice himself to remove Hitler. Gersdorff acted as Hitler's expert guide in a tour that was expected to take 20 minutes based on prior years' experience, more than enough time for the two 10 minute fuses to ignite the bomb. For some reason Hitler, who perhaps senses danger, sped through the exhibit in two minutes, leaving Gersdorff to rush to the nearest toilet to deactivate the explosives.

In late July 1943, Tresckow was transferred to the "F?hrer reserve" for home leave pending reassignment. He used this time on the reserve list to work on coup plans in Berlin with Claus von Stauffenberg. It was in this period that the coup plans and proclamations were refined, dictated and typed by his assistant Magarethe von Oven. One of these drafts was the one buried at Mauerwald by Leutnant von Hagen and Major Kuhn in late 1943 and recently rediscovered in the KGB archives. Part of the coup planning involved refining the pre-existing "Valkyrie" plan and tailoring it for use in supporting a coup.

In late November of 1943, Tresckow was again transferred to the southern eastern front. He was appointed Chief of Staff of the 2nd Army and in June 1944, he was promoted Generalmajor. Throughout 1944, he maintained contact with the Berlin conspirators, although he was unable to be directly involved in the preparing the coup. Immediately before the assassination attempt of July 20, Tresckow strengthened Stauffenberg's determination to carry out the assassination attempt no matter what by noting that success was irrelevant next to demonstrating for world history that a credible Widerstand existed.

Tresckow knew he would be implicated and was anxious to avoid giving information on his friends under torture. He therefore resolved to take his own life. He did so on 21 July, 1944 near Ostrow, Poland after leaving behind some inspiring last words. He walked into the woods, simulated a fire fight with his pistol and blew is own head off with a rifle grenade. He was originally reported as killed in action by partisans. Tresckow was buried in the family home in Wartenberg but was later exhumed. His headless body was shown to Schlabrendorff in a strange attempt to induce him to talk before being burned in the crematorium of KZ Sachsenhausen. His ashes were scattered in an unknown place.

Per his ADC Schlabrendorff, Tresckow's parting words were: "Now they will all fall upon us and cover us with abuse. But I am convinced now as much as ever, that we have done the right thing. I believe Hitler to be the archenemy, not only of Germany, but of the entire world. In a few hours' time, I shall stand before God and answer for both my actions and the things I neglected to do. I think I can with a clear conscience stand by all I have done in the battle against Hitler. Just as God once promised Abraham that He would spare Sodom if only ten just men could be found in the city, I also have reason to hope that, for our sake, he will not destroy Germany. No one among us can complain about his death, 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 up his life in defense of his convictions."

In the photo of Tresckow's staff below, Fabian von Schlabrendorff appears at the right hand side.

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Edited by ColinRF, 21 March 2009 - 16:25 .


#84 ColinRF

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 03:28

Fitness evaluation for Oberst i.G. Hermann Wagner from March 1944 signed by XX Korps Commander General der Artillerie v. Roman, 2. Armee Commander Generaloberst Weiss, and Oberst i.G. Henning v. Tresckow (in his capacity as 2. Armee Chief of Staff). Wagner was peripherally related to the resistance.

Interestingly, I corresponded with Hermann Wagner's grandson on another site and found the following:

Wagner's wife and the wife of General Oberst Beck had a deep friendship. Beck was to have been godfather to Wagner's son but he was executed a few weeks before he was born. Wagner also travelled to visit Rommel in Africa. Officially he said because he had troubles with his wife, but it's said that he was sent to check Rommel's point of view. After July 20, he went to jail for a few days. Family legend says that after this the regime delegated an SS officer to oversee his work. Once he had to invent a pretext, which authorised him to arrest the SS officer to have freedom of action.

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Edited by ColinRF, 21 March 2009 - 03:49 .


#85 ColinRF

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 03:29

reverse signed by Tresckow

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Edited by ColinRF, 21 March 2009 - 06:05 .


#86 Ian Sayer

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 13:01

Excellent work Colin.
Keep it up.
All the best
Ian

#87 ColinRF

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 13:44

QUOTE (Ian Sayer @ Mar 21 2009, 09:01 ) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Excellent work Colin.
Keep it up.
All the best
Ian


Thanks Ian. Means a lot coming from you. Nice to see you here.

Colin

#88 ColinRF

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 16:17

Fabian von Schlabrendorff was a cousin of Henning von Tresckow. He also served as Tresckow's ADC during his time in Russia. Schlabrendorff was one of the many resisters that Tresckow recruited to fill his command staff when he was Chief of Staff at Army Group Centre, and later when he was chief of Staff of 2. Armee.

Schlabrendorff was trained as a lawyer. He was also a reserve officer with the modest rank of Leutnant. Schlabrendorff was Tresckow's messenger and liaison between the far-off army group command in the East and other hubs of resistance located in the Abawehr HQ and reserve army in Berlin. In this role he maintained contact between Tresckow and other senior resisters life Goerdeler, Oster, Beck and Olbricht. His visits to Berlin to pass along plans and to discuss options are mentioned in the contemporary diary of Ulrich von Hassel.

In late 1942, Tresckow and Olbricht finalised a plan to assassinate Hitler and stage a coup. On 13 March 1943, returning from his easternmost headquarters FHQ Wehrwolf near Vinnitsa to Wolfschanze in East Prussia, Hitler was scheduled to make a stop-over at the headquarters of Army Group Centre near Smolensk. Tresckow could not pass such a rare opportunity by given the rarity of Hitler's personal appearances in the field. Several assassination plans were floated and even discussed with Generalfeldmarschall von Kluge. Only one that was implemented and it was undertaken by Tresckow and Schlabrendorff.

Tresckow's attempt to kill Hitler by smuggling a time bomb onto his aircraft has recently been dramatised quite accurately in the recent Tom Cruise film "Valkyrie." The difficulty involved getting a bomb onto Hitler's plane which was always well guarded while on the ground. Hitler flew with a retinue of several aircraft so the challenge also involved getting the bomb onto the correct plane. Tresckow asked Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Brandt, a member of Hitler's staff who usually travelled on the same plane as Hitler, to take a parcel with him. He was told that the parcel contained two bottles of Cointreau, supposedly the price of a bet won by Tresckow's friend Colonel Stieff. Like Brandt, Stieff was favourably disposed toward the resistance but he was not yet a full member. The package was a cleverly disguised bomb consisting of two British clam mines with acid time pencil fuse. Schlabrendorff set the fuse and handed over the parcel to Brandt who boarded the same plane as Hitler.

It was expected that Hitler's Focke-Wulf 200 Condor should explode about 30 minutes later over the Minsk area, close enough to the front to be attributed to Soviet fighters. Olbricht was to use the resulting crisis to mobilise his Reserve Army network to seize power in Berlin, Vienna, Munich and in the other German Wehrkries, very similar to the Valkyrie plan used on July 20, 1944. It is unclear whether Olbricht had the means at his disposal at this date to actually seize power, even with Hitler death.

But Hitler didn't die. The bomb didn't go off. When no word came of a crash, Tresckow called Wolfschanze on a pretext and found that Hitler had landed. Now they had to retrieve the bomb, which could conceivably go off at any time, without drawing suspicion. First they had to head off delivery of the package to Stieff. Tresckow called Brandt and told him that the wrong package had been delivered and to please hold it. Schlabrendorff had the unenviable job of being sent to Wolfschanze the next day to retrieve the bomb. He did so, providing Brandt with replacement liqueur. He must have sweat a lot smuggling a time bomb out of Fuehrer headquarters. As soon as he was safely on board his train, he closed the compartment door and disassembled the bomb, praying it would not go off. When he examined the pencil fuse, he found that it had fired but the plastic explosive in the clam had not ignited ? an unbelievable stroke of bad luck and one source of the great "what if's" in history. It is thought that the cabin temperature was too cold to allow ignition but the exact technical cause of the failure is unknown.

Later, Schlabrendorff was involved in providing the explosive for von Gersdorff's suicide attempt on Hitler on Heroes Memorial Day on March 21.

Arrested after Tresckow's suicide, Schlabrendorrf was brutally tortured, to the extent that he suffered a heart attack in prison. He would almost certainty have been executed but his trial was pre-empted by an air raid and the loathsome Freisler was killed by a U.S. bomber. Schlabrendorff's file was lost in the ruins. When brought to trial later, Schlabrendorff used his leagl training to his advantage. He argued that he had been tortured and that torture was illegal. Strangely, the court agreed and Schlabrendorff was freed. He walked out of court only to be arrested by the Gestapo and placed in "protective custody." Schlabrendorff joined the group of high profile prisoners that included Halder and von Falkenhausen who were taken down to Italy and who were scheduled to be shot by SS guards if liberation looked likely. There he was liberated by German and then U.S. troops.

After the war, he worked as a lawyer after 1945 and became a judge at the Bundesverfassungsgericht (1967?75). He was one of the few survivors of the inner circle of conspirators and he wrote an invaluable memoir, "The Secret War Against Hitler."

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Edited by ColinRF, 23 March 2009 - 01:32 .


#89 ColinRF

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 18:49

Rudolph-Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff was the officer who arguably managed to come second closest, after Stauffenberg, to personally assassinating Hitler.

Von Gersdorff grew up in a military family. His father was a Generalmajor and von Gersdorff began his career in 1923 with the family regiment, the 1. Schlesisches Leibk?rassier Regiment or"Gro?er Kurf?rst," later Reiter Regiment 7. He was a Rittmeister when he entered the Prussian Military Academy and joined the General Staff in 1938. He served in Poland and France as a staff officer and, prior to the attack on Russia, von Gersdorff was assigned to Heeresgruppe Mitte as 1c (Senior Staff Officer - Intelligence), where he served with his cousin Oberleutnant Fabian von Schlabrendorff.

On March 13, 1943, Oberst Henning von Tresckow and his ADC Oberleutnant von Schlabrendorff carried out their assassination attempt on Hitler by secreting a bomb on his plane disguised as a wrapped gift of liqueur. It failed to detonate and Hitler landed safely. Following this failure, Oberst Von Gersdorff volunteered to kill Hitler should the opportunity arise. The perfect chance presented itself eight days later when, on March 21, 1943, the annual "Heroes Memorial Day" was scheduled. Hitler was due to give a speech and then tour an exhibit of captured Russian war materiel at the baroque Zeughaus on the Unter Den Linden. The exhibition was put on by Heeresgruppe Mitte and, von Gersdorff, in his capacity as 1c of the Heeresgruppe, was quickly recruited to guide Hitler and his senior commanders through the exhibit. This was recognized as a one in a lifetime opportunity to remove the "head of the snake" at one stroke as Hitler, G?ring, Himmler, D?nitz, Keitel and Jodl could all be expected to be present in physical proximity to each other in a relatively confined indoor space. As a result, von Gersdorff opted for a mobile suicide bomb attack as he recognized that his only option was to make the attack as the F?hrer and his escort worked their way through the exhibit. Von Gersdorff?s wife died in early 1943 and this was a significant factor in motivating him to make this attempt..

Following Hitler's speech, von Gersdorff activated two 10-minute British acid time fuses in two bombs carried in his overcoat pockets. He did his best to interest Hitler in the various items and photographs on display and to stay as close as possible to ensure that Hitler and his senior commanders all died as the bombs exploded. Contrary to his behaviour in prior years, Hitler literally bolted through the exhibit, showed little or no interest in the display. Possibly as a result of his famous sixth sense for danger, he veered from his programmed course and exited via a side door so quickly that he caught the announcer and awaiting review guard unprepared. Von Gersdorff was left to quickly and quietly find his way to a public toilet where he managed to pull the fuses and disarm the bombs prior to detonation. This was one of Hitler's last public appearances of the war and represented a last chance for the conspirators.

In April 1943, soon after the failure of his Zeughaus attempt, von Gersdorff was once again a witness to history when he was one of the officers who discovered the buried evidence of Stalin's 1940 massacre of over 4,000 Polish officer POWs at Katyn in Poland. Later in 1944, he was involved indirectly in the July Plot when he acted as custodian of the resisters' explosives before passing them via Wessel von Freytag-Loringhoven to Claus von Stauffenberg.

On August 26, 1944, Oberst i.G. von Gersdorff, who had already been awarded the Iron Cross first class, was awarded the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross for his services in extracting a significant portion of 7. Armee from the Falaise Gap. He finished the war as a Generalmajor and was captured by the Americans in 1945. He attempted to continue his military career by joining the newly formed Bundeswehr in 1947 but he was obstructed by government officials and soldiers who did not want to serve with a "traitor."

After the war, von Gersdorff founded the German arm of St. John?s Ambulance before becoming paralyzed in a riding accident and dying in Munich in 1980. In 1981, he was posthumously honoured when the former Belgian "Loncin-Kaserne" in Euskirchen was renamed after him by the Bundeswehr.

Seen below is the title page from his autobiography "Soldat im Untergang," signed from Munich by Rudolph-Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff and dated less than a year before his death. In one of my collecting coups, I picked this first edition signed memoir up on ebay for 5 pounds! I also include a shot of the zeughaus that I took in 2006.

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Edited by ColinRF, 22 March 2009 - 18:56 .


#90 ColinRF

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 22:46

The following is based on Wiki but has been added to by me.

Georg von Boeselager was born near Kassel into an aristocratic and catholic family. He initially considered becoming a priest but in the end decided to follow a military career. He joined the 15th Cavalry Regiment in 1934 and was commissioned in 1936. He took part in the invasion of Poland where he earned an Iron Cross Second Class. In France, in 1940, he earned an Iron Cross First Class for gallantry in establishing a bridgehead over the Seine. In the following January, he was awarded the Knight?s Cross.. His July 1941 fitness report described him as "...a spirited cavalry officer, who thinks boldly and surely in taking decisions, but who is modest and unassuming, the idol of his men."

In the Invasion of Russia, Boeselager again made a name for himself as his unit performed reconnaissance for the double-pronged sweep around Brest-Litovsk to take Bialystok and Minsk, seized bridgeheads over the Nieman and Daugava rivers, and participated in the Battle for Moscow. For these actions he was awarded the oakleaves to his Knight?s Cross. At this point in his career he was made Instructor of Tactics at the "School for Shocktroops" in Krampintz where he instructed students in panzer tactics. However, Boeselager preferred commanding traditional horsed cavalry, which he felt still had a place on the modern battlefield. While an instructor at the school, Boeselager became acquainted with members of the military resistance.

Boeselager next was assigned to train troops of the Rumanian III Army fighting on the flank of 6. Armee at Stalingrad. After an audience with Generalfeldmarschall von Kluge, commander of Army Group Centre, Boeselager was assigned to command Cavalry Regiment Centre, a freestanding cavalry force consisting of elite German horse troops and Russian cossacks. Boeselager made frequent trips to confer with Kluge, sometimes flying along with the field marshal's staff on his transport plane.

At a 1943 field conference, the feasibility of assassinating Hitler was discussed among some of the officers present. It was proposed to kill Hitler with a pistol, but no officer could be found willing to attempt it. Even von Boeselager, an expert marksman, was not sure that he possessed the necessary sang froid to draw and shoot Hitler in the head. Boeselager confided to his new friend and future superior, Colonel von Tresckow, that he would likely freeze up as well. It was the method, not the fact of the killing itself, that bothered Boeselager. In fact, he had come to believe that he had a duty to God and his fellow men to eliminate Hitler, who was the antithesis of all that his religious upbringing represented. Instead of a lone assassination, Boeselager envisioned a scenario where, in command of a cavalry honour guard, he would overwhelm Hitler's SS bodyguard and kill the F?hrer. On Hitler?s visit to Smolensk, the plan was put in actin but Hitler changed his route and the ambushing forces did not make contact.

In June 1943, Boeselager was promoted Major and in December to Lt. Colonel. In June 1944, Boeselager was dispatched by Tresckow to urge his old commander, Kluge to discuss tactics and to try to get Tresckow transferred to the Western Front to Kluge?s staff. As Tresckow envisioned it, Kluge would arrange for his transfer so that he could help consolidate the coup. However, Kluge felt the Americans and British soon would be "opening up" his front no matter what he actions he took and he did not trust most of his staff to keep silent about the conspiracy. He therefore declined to participate in the plot or any planning. Boeselager returned to Tresckow empty-handed, but he still had a contribution to make.

In support of the July plot, Boeselager was waiting with his brother Phillipp and the greater part of his cavalry brigade to move to the rear and to be flown into Berlin to assist with post-coup consolidation. Although the entire unit made a march of many hundreds of miles to the rear to position for their flight to Berlin, the failure of the bomb plot led to an abort being called and a return to the front. While almost everyone in the unit was aware of the reason for the movement, n one reported the officers who ordered it.

Boeselager also helped Wessel von Freytag-Loringhoven in procuring the British hexegen plastic explosive and other parts used in the bomb meant to kill Hitler (a fact that his friends who were tortured by Hitler's security services never revealed).

Although the Boeselager brothers escaped initial suspicion, investigators sent a message to one of Georg's old units in France requesting that "First Lieutenant von Boeselager" be detained for questioning. His former comrades replied (semi-truthfully, since Boeselager had long since been promoted) that they knew no such officer. Even though he was now a field-grade officer, Georg continued his hard-charging cavalryman's ways. Aware his life was in danger, he may have wished to die a hero, reasoning that his family would be less liable to Nazi persecution. Alternately, he may have been despondent over the failure of the plot and the future of Germany under probable Soviet occupation. Boeselager carried his motivation to the grave. He fell leading an assault against a heavily fortified Soviet position near the River Bug on August 27, 1944. Two days later, he was posthumously promoted to full colonel and awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords ? one of only 159 German soldiers so decorated in the history of the award. If one discounts the senior officers decorated for the actions of their troops and the airmen decorated for single accomplishment, von Boeleslager was among only twenty or so Heer officers of below general officer rank so decorated.

The Bundeswehr?s Freiherr von Boeselager Kaserne ("Baron von Boeselager Barracks") in Munster is named for him, as are Georg-von-Boeselager-Stra?e ("George von Boeselager Street") and Georg-von-Boeselager-Schule ("George von Boeselager Primary School") in Swisttal. For many years, the Bundeswehr conducted an annual (then a semi-annual) armoured reconnaissance competition composed of 7 events open to all NATO nations. The competition was called the "Boeselager Cup". It was cancelled in 1998 as pressure from operational commitments on the NATO countries restricted their ability to participate.

The picture of Georg bestowing the Knight's Cross on an officer is of interest - its his brother Phillipp. Surprisingly not the only sibling Knight's Cross recipients.

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#91 ColinRF

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 13:23

Signed photograph of Philipp v. Boeselager as commander of one of the mounted battalions of Cavalry Regiment Centre c. 1943.

Philipp von Boeselager was one of 4 brothers serving with the German armed forces and the only one to survive the war. Since June 1942, he had served as ADC to Generalfeldmarschall G?nther von Kluge, then the commander of Army Group Centre. During the winter of 1942-1943, Boeselager was instrumental in introducing his brother Georg to von Kluge, giving Georg the opportunity to convince von Kluge of the merits of independent cavalry formations. Consequently, an elite mounted formation was formed that included Russian Cossacks - Cavalry Regiment Centre.

Boeselager was directly involved in the procurement of British plastic explosive for Stauffenberg's bomb attack on July 20. He was tasked by Henning von Tresckow to smuggle several British plastic explosive bombs to General Hellmuth Stieff at Army High Command at Mauerwald. "Getting out of the plane, I was limping, because I had been injured in the leg. Several young soldiers came up to me, offering to carry my suitcase. But I refused. I thought they would notice at once that the suitcase was far too heavy."

Cavalry Regiment Centre was designated as the conspirators' primary force to support the coup. On July 20, Boeselager led 1,000 riders on a 200 km. ride to an airfield at Brest where were to fly to Berlin. When the failure of the plot became known, Boeselager's brother sent the message "All back to the old holes" -- code meaning the attack on Hitler had failed. "I was sure we would be noticed. Some 1,000 riders make up a huge caravan stretching over a few kilometres. And the soldiers must have been suspicious: First, they are asked to ride westwards at one hell of a speed. And then, the command is to ride back eastwards as quickly as possible." While every man in his unit must have understood the significance of the tropp movement, not one betrayed the two brothers. Boeselager carried cyanide on him every single day until the war ended -- convinced the Nazis would eventually find him out. Amazingly neither he nor his brother were ever interrogated or suspected ? a testament to those who could have turned them in but did not, even when subjected to severe torture.

Boeselager's death was widely reported last year given the upcoming film Valkyrie and his support for its production. At that time, he was often inaccurately reported to be the last survivor of the conspirators involved in the bomb plot. The actual last survivor was, and at the time of writing, still is Ewald Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin.

The following is an internet obit for von Boeslelager:

Philipp von Boeselager German Veteran | 1917 - 2008

Last of the German army officers who betrayed Hitler with bomb plot Philipp von Boeselager, who died on 1 May, 2008, was the last survivor of the group of military men who conspired to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. Field Lieutenant Boeselager was one of several high-ranking Wehrmacht officers who became disillusioned with the F?hrer midway through the war. Their efforts culminated in an attempt to kill Hitler with an exploding briefcase left under a conference table, but he escaped with only minor injuries.

The previous year Boeselager had been selected to shoot Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, but that plan was abandoned. After the war, Boeselager's treacherous exploits saw him heralded as a hero and he was given Germany and France's highest military honours.

He was born on 6 September, 1917, in Burg Heimerzheim in the Rhineland. He was raised a devout Catholic and had early ambitions to go into politics. However, he and his family had reservations about the Nazi Party from the beginning, so he abandoned his plan to join the Foreign Office and instead signed up with the Wehrmacht, the Third Reich's combined armed forces.

The course of the war led him onto the staff of Field Marshal G?nther von Kluge on the Eastern Front. Following reports of indiscriminate killings of civilians, von Kluge lost faith in the German leadership and began drawing up plans for a coup d'?tat.

The first plot to kill Hitler was due to take place in March 1943. Hitler and Himmler would be coming to the front to discuss plans with Kluge. Boeselager was to walk into the officers' casino where the two men would be dining and shoot them with a Walther PP pistol.

But a change of dining plans on Himmler's part saw the plan abandoned at the last moment - if Himmler wasn't killed, the plotters felt, he could easily succeed Hitler so it wasn't worth risking the assassination.

The following summer they concocted another plot, known as Operation Valkyrie. This time a briefcase packed with explosives was to be taken into a conference room, set to detonate then left near Hitler. The assassination was delayed by five days amid fears that the conspiracy was in danger of being uncovered. The eventual date of the attack was 20 July.

Chief-of-Staff Claus von Stauffenberg took the loaded briefcase into the meeting room where Hitler was talking to a host of officers. He activated the detonator, made his excuses and waited outside for the explosion. After the blast, he assumed Hitler was dead and started his get-away. But though four men were killed, the briefcase had been positioned wrongly so Hitler avoided the full force of the blast. Stauffenberg was arrested shortly afterwards and was one of 200 people executed for their part in the German Resistance.

Boeselager's role in the 20 July Plot was supplying the explosive suitcase itself which he had to transport without detection to the meeting place. He was then to bring the troops in his unit away from the front to Berlin in order to carry out a timely coup upon the news of Hitler's death. When he learnt that the F?hrer had survived, he quickly reversed his orders and rushed back to the front.

None of his troops knew of the plot, their absence wasn't noted and Boeselager's part in the conspiracy was only revealed after the war, by which time he had been promoted to Major and received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, one of the Wehrmacht's highest honours.

After the war Boeselager studied economics and forestry. He also did a great deal of charity work and campaigned for political awareness among young people to make sure the atrocities of the Nazi regime were never repeated. He received the Legion of Honour medal in Paris, sixty years after the failed plot.

In 2004 he revealed that he still had nightmares about the war, particularly his co-conspirators who were hunted down after the failed assassination and refused to give his name despite being severely tortured. "If you are the only one among some 100 who is still alive, that makes you think," he said. "I feel they are watching me and I have a certain responsibility towards them,"

When plans were announced for a film about the events of Operation Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise, Boeselager said: "I hope that the German resistance will become more well-known thanks to the film. People know so little about it in the United States."

He passed away at his home near Frankfurt at the age of 90, having regretted all his life that he never got the chance to shoot Hitler in 1943.

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Edited by ColinRF, 12 April 2009 - 13:24 .


#92 ColinRF

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 14:51

The signature below is a book dedication form Friederich Georgi to Fritz Paulus. The book is Georgi's biography of his father-in-law, General der Infanterie Friedirch Olbricht.

Georgi was a Luftwaffe Major in command of anti-aircraft troops in1944. When Stauffenberg flew back from Wolfschanze to Berlin to take charge of the coup attempt, an order was apparently passed to shoot down is aircraft. That order landed on Georgi's desk and got not further. He suppressed it and Stauffenberg landed safely.

Late on the night of the coup, Georgi was summoned to the Bendlerstasse by his father-in-law. After obtaining extraordinary leave from his general, he proceeded to the Bendler where Olbricht offered him a cognac and a cigar and then proceeded to bring him up to date with the day's shcoking events. Olbricht explained the rationale for the assassination attempt and described his torture at involving his family in the likely consequences of failure. He described their initial hopes for success and the deterioration of the situation including the announcement to ignore the orders of Field Marshal von Witzleben and the defection of the guard battalion. While Olbricht talked, loyal officers commenced their effort to retake the Bendlerstrasse for HItler.

In a report written early in the early morning hours of the day following the coup, at roughly the same time that Stauffenberg and his father-in-law were facing a firing squad, Georgi documented in detail his discussions with Olbricht. He described Stauffenberg?s shooting in the arm by loyalist officers, Fromm's release from custody and his reassertion of control. He also describes his parting from his father-in-law and the incredibly difficult decision to preserve his own life for the benefit of the family. This decision tortured him for years he almost certainly suffered from survivor guilt. Georgi walked out of the Bendler by adopting a confident stride. Perhaps his Luftwaffe uniform shielded him for suspicion in what was seen to be an army coup attempt.

Georgi was also able to document Olbricht's parting words:

"I do not know how posterity will see our actions and how it will judge me, but I do know with certainty that we were all free from any personal motives and that we acted only in an already desperate situation to preserve Germany from complete destruction. I am convinced that posterity will recognise this and understand. "

The wedding photo below shows Olbricht and Georgi and wife at the latter's wedding.

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Edited by ColinRF, 12 April 2009 - 15:31 .


#93 ColinRF

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 15:17

Here is a bio of Otto Ernst Remer based on a useful page that can be found at

http://members.shaw....hland/remer.htm

Born on 18 August 1912, Otto-Ernst Remer joined the German Army in 1932; by April of 1942 he was a battalion commander and joined GD to lead the IV (Heavy) battalion. By February of the next year, he commanded the 1st (Armoured) battalion of Grenadier Regiment GD. His halftrack-mounted troops managed to cover the withdrawal of an SS panzer corps from Kharkov, and the battalion also covered itself with glory during the German counter-attack on the city. His leadership of the battalion, which helped pursue the defeated Russians as far as Belgorod, helped the German Army as a whole regain the strategic initiative for the summer of 1943, and earned Remer personally the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Major Remer led his battalion competently during the Battle of Kursk, and then again at Krivoi Rog, and in November 1943 Remer was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. In March 1944, Remer left the GD Division to command Wachbattaillon GD (the unit entrusted with public duties and security for Hitler in Berlin.)

As the commander of the only large combat formation in the capital during the July 20 Bomb Plot, Remer was able to play a large role in crushing the rebellious elements attempting to seize control of the government. After being ordered by one of his superiors (and a key member of the anti-Hitler forces) to arrest the Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, Remer arrived at the ministry to be persuaded by Goebbels to telephone Hitler personally, who not only convinced Remer that he was not dead (as was claimed by the conspirators), but promoted Remer to Oberst on the spot and granted full authority to take aggressive action to crush the plot. Remer acted enthusiastically and efficiently, and by the evening of 20 July the revolt had been stopped and the key conspirators were dead or in custody.

While it would appear at first blush that Oberst Remer was now in a prime position, with the full backing of Hitler and quickly becoming the darling of the Nazi-controlled press, it soon became apparent that (like Strachwitz, perhaps) he was not cut out for higher command.

While Remer had been a competent enough battalion commander, his new duties after the Bomb Plot as commander of the F?hrer Begleit Brigade (itself formed from a GD cadre) showed he was out of depth in higher command positions. The brigade suffered heavy casualties (due, it is reported, to his leadership) in East Prussia. The Brigade then transferred to the west for the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944, and again suffered high casualties for little gain. The brigade, expanded to division status, moved to Silesia in March 1945, and again Remer was criticized for lack of ability.

Remer finished the war in the rank of Generalmajor; his promotion had come due to his loyalty to Hitler, but unfortunately for Remer (and untold numbers of those under his command), he had never been given the proper training to lead his new commands.

Remer was lucky to avoid Russian captivity, and remained an American prisoner of war until 1947. During this period, the commander of his prison camp, an officer of the US First Infantry Division, said that "Of the 87 German generals in this General Remer is the only one whom I respect as courageous and honorable."

Remer became involved in politics after WW II, helping form the "Socialist Reich Party," which, after gaining sixteen seats in a state parliament, was banned in 1952. Remer then lived in Egypt and Syria, in exile, for several years, eventually publishing two books, including Conspiracy and Treason Around Hitler (Verschw?rung und Verrat um Hitler), which was both a memoir and a study. Remer's devotion to Hitler and the Nazi regime lasted long after the war, and he was sentenced to 22 months in prison in October 1992 for publicly denying the scope of the Holocaust, which was a crime in the newly reunited Germany. His arguments in a newsletter, that there was no historical basis for the accepted death toll figures of those killed at Auschwitz, and the method of execution (poison gas), were not considered by the court who refused to hear his testimony. He died in exile in Spain on October 4, 1997, aged 85.

A fellow GD veteran had this to say about the former hero of July 20: "We, his former comrades, have deeply regretted that destiny confronted this young officer in July 1944 with a situation with consequences the bearing of which I should assume are beyond the powers of any human being. No judgement will be made here as to whether his decision on July 20 was right or wrong. But the consequences of his decision were so terrible, and have cost so much of the best German blood, that we old soldiers had expected that a man to whom destiny gave such a burden to carry until the end of his life would recognize this, and would thereafter live quietly and in seclusion. We, his former comrades, lack any sympathy for the fact that Herr Remer fails to summon up this attitude of self-effacement."

The signed souvenir letter below tells the story of the critical moment of July 20 in Remer?s own words, complete with typing errors.

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#94 TacHel

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 19:21

Wow! This is worthy of a book! The amount of information and artifacts you have amassed is simply amazing! I read every single word and am thirsting for more. The historical importance of the event goes without saying, your research is absolutely spellbinding.

Thank you for sharing! And seriously consider publishing your findings!

#95 ColinRF

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 20:02

Thanks for the nice commets Francois.

Here are a couple of newspaper's that were included in the Schrader papers I bought reporting on the first trial on August 8 1944.

Colin

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#96 ColinRF

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 20:04

the 2nd paper

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#97 ColinRF

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 19:07

Still a few to add...sorry I've been out of commission for a while.

Josef Wagner was Gauleiter of Westphalia-South from 1928 to 1941 and was also Gauleiter of Silesia between 1934 until 1941. He was deemed capable enough to run two districts simultaneously. He was directly involved as Goerdeler's successor as Reich Price commissioner in introducing anti-inflationary price controls and he appears to have been valued by Hitler. He was one of the earliest members of the Nazi party, joining it in 1922.

He was involved peripherally in the resistance. Ulrich von Hassel includes Wagner as one of the best Gauleiters in his secret diary and he also notes that Wagner sent him a warning on at least one occasion that he was under Gestapo surveillance. When Werner Schrader's safe was opened by the Gestapo after his July 28, 1944 suicide, they found Oster's list of members of the 1938 coup attempt, Wagner's name was on the list. In addition, his assistant during his tenure as Silesian Gauleiter was none other than Frtiz Dietlof Graf von Schulenburg, later Helldorf's deputy in the Berlin police and a key player in the July plot. It is more than likely that these Stauffenberg associations led directly to his ultimate fate. On the other hand, Wagner should not be white washed as he was a key player in some of the first anti-Jewish deportations from Silesia.

Wagner was a devout Catholic and he had contacts with several members of the German resistance including Beck, Hassel and Goerdeler from an early date. His devout religiousness, which included sending his children to Catholic schools, earned him the disdain of Martin Bormann, a dangerous enemy. His fall from grace occurred in 1941 when Wagner's pregnant daughter announced her intention to marry an SS officer. Wagner and his wife refused to permit the match as the prospective groom had an unsavoury reputation and was a non-Catholic. Wagner's wife wrote to her daughter to explain her parents' reasons for withholding permission to marry but the letter was intercepted by Bormann, perhaps with Himmler's connivance. On the afternoon of November 9, 1941, in front of the assembled Reichsleiters and Gauleiters, Hitler publicly proclaimed that he would not stand for such behaviour. Wagner was stripped of his offices and drummed out of the party on the spot.

The case was then taken before Walter Buch, the Party's supreme judge. Wagner was 'tried' before a jury of six peer Gauleiters and Wagner defended himself so ably that they dismissed the charges and ordered his reinstatement to all his old offices. Not for the first or last time, Hitler personally intervened and overturned this decision made under due process.

Wagner's ultimate fate is unclear. It is known that he was arrested after the Stauffenberg bomb plot and incarcerated in a KZ. Most authorities think he was secretly murdered by the SS in the waning days of the war, much like General Rabenau. One source says he was hung in Berlin on April 22, 1945. Others believe that he was made to disappear by Soviet troops after liberation.

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Edited by ColinRF, 01 June 2009 - 22:06 .


#98 Ulsterman

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 21:27

Excellent!

I bought my Dad's day copy of Valkyre today and thought of you.

Did you see the medal bar?

#99 ColinRF

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 22:02

QUOTE (Ulsterman @ Jun 1 2009, 17:27 ) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Excellent!

I bought my Dad's day copy of Valkyre today and thought of you.

Did you see the medal bar?



Thanks! Hope you enjoy Valkyrie. Strangely the reviews of the DVD seem a lot more positive than those of the cinematic release. I have the digital copy on my lap top and put it on while cooking. Perhaps folks can get more of a handle on the hsitory with the voiced commentaries and the documentary.

BTW - did you ever write away for that signature? YOu will kick yourself if you don"t. :-)

PS - what medal bar?

Colin

Edited by ColinRF, 01 June 2009 - 22:07 .


#100 Naxos

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 22:17

Colin, here is a very interesting interview with Philipp von Boeselager.

He gave the interview to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung three weeks before his death in 2008.

http://www.faz.net/s...n~Scontent.html

Attached File  ph_v_B.jpg   84.24KB   1 downloads







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