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ColinRF

Autographs of the German Resistance & July 20 plot

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Ok-this thread should be promoted to "sticky" status!! or certainly added to the permanent datatbase!

Colin:

you are a top class collector! This is the level of historical research and detail that makes this hobby GREAT!

I strongly urge you to write this up as a three or four series article for Benders' Magazine OR WW2 History magazine. This is incredible stuff.

I met some of the Stauffenberg cousins @ 20 years ago. They were still suffering the after effects of July 20th. Prison had damaged them-made them cautious, wary and timid.

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Absolutely astonishing thread and collection...

Your research should be published and escape the boundaries of a discussion forum.

Regards,

_________

Robert

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Thanks for the nice feedback. My objective is just to honour some brave men and women who the English language history books have paid too little attention to IMO.

I don't pretend to be that much of a researcher; I'm more of a compiler. Most of my data comes from published primary and secondary sources and the net. I have a library of ~100 books on the topic.

If you want to read research, you can't do better than to plunge into the footnotes of Professor Peter Hoffmann's life works on the German Resistance and the Stauffenberg family - he's made the subject his own! I am lucky enough to be the custodian of some extraordinary documents, so that's my contribution.

Thanks again and I will continue to post bios and documents as I have time.

Cheers

Colin

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Despite media reports to the contrary at the recent passing of Phillip Freherr von Boeselager, Ewald Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin is at this date the sole survivor of the July 20, 1944 plot. Unlike many others, he was heavily involved in the July 20 plot but strangely escaped retribution.

Leutnant von Kleist was the son of Ewald von Kleist, a Prussian landowner and early opponent of Hitler who consistently refused to be intimidated by the Nazis. Kleist the elder was heavily involved in Oster's 1938 coup attempt and he acted as liaison to the British government. Prior to the collapse of this effort at Munich, Kleist the elder visited the British government and Winston Churchill (then out of power) to lobby for a firm stand against Hitler. His son, Ewald Heinrich was a Leutnant in the famous 9. Potsdam Infantry Regiment, a unit that another famous resister, Axel von dem Bussche said was notorious for having more men involved in the German Resistance than any other. While serving in the regiment, Kleist was recruited as an active resister by his C.O. Fritz Graf von der Schulenburg. Schulenburg served as Helldorf's deputy chief of the Berlin police on July 20.

In January 1944, Kleist was approached by Claus Graf von Stauffenberg and asked if he would consider carrying out a suicide bomb attack on Hitler during the planned presentation of new army uniforms. Kleist's brother officer of the 9. Potsdam Regiment, Axel von dem Bussche, had previously volunteered for such an attack after witnessing an Einsatzgruppe atrocity in the East. However, the demonstration was delayed and before it could be rescheduled, von dem Bussche was temporarily posted back to his unit on the Russian front where he was wounded and lost a leg.

Kleist asked for some time to think the proposal over and returned him to see his father. Kleist the elder noted his son's distracted manner and asked what was wrong. After the son described Stauffenberg's plan, the father turned away and gazed out the window for a time before turning back to face his son. If Ewald Heinrich was expecting to be barred from carrying out the plan, he was in for a surprise. His father told him: "Yes. You must do it. A man who is offered such a chance and who does not do it can never be happy in this life again." It can only be imagined what saying these words cost the father. Kleist returned to Stauffenberg and agreed to the plan. He attack was never carried out due to the fact that the demonstration was again rescheduled and the opportunity was lost.

Kleist is the last survivor of those who were actually present at the Bendlerstrasse on July 20. He has given several interviews, notably including appearances in the Oscar nominated documentary "The Restless Conscience," in which he compellingly describes the tension that day. He states that normally there is a certain weight of the air upon one's skin but on that day, when "history was balancing on the edge of a knife," the weight of the atmosphere on his skin seemed a thousand times heavier.

Kleist was one of four subalterns from 9. Regiment sent by Schulenburg to assist the plotters during the coup. He was there when Stauffenberg returned from Wolfschanze and he witnessed the drama that occurred when Fromm refused to co-operate in issuing the Valkyrie order. In company with Stauffenberg's ADC von Haeften, Kleist drew his pistol when Fromm threatened the plotters with arrest. He jammed his weapon into Fromm?s stomach and arrested him instead. Later in the day, between 6 PM and 7 PM, General Joachimm von Kortzfleisch, the Commander of Wehrkreis III, visited the Bendler and denied Hitler was dead. He too had to be arrested and Kleist again drew his weapon. Later in the eveing General Olbricht sent Kleist into the streets surrounding the Bendlerblock to review the posture of Remer's guard battalion and he was later sent out on missions to liaise with the city commandant and police.

When the coup failed, Kleist was arrested as an active conspirator. There were ample witnesses to his involvement through the day. He made two attempts to escape. In the first he struck down a guard who was armed with rifle and fixed bayonet and in the second he struggled free of an officer. The second time, he fled into a room in search of a window to leap from and instead burst into a room full of SS. When Otto Skorzeny toured the premises early in the morning of the 21st, he walked into a room where Kleist was handcuffed to a chair. Not seeing the restraints, Skorzeny bowed and introduced himself thinking Kleist was a loyal officer who had assisted in retaking the building.

Amazingly, Kleist was not executed that night. In fact he was not executed at all or even held in custody for a long time. He saw his father one last time in the Bendlerstrasse but he could not exchange words with him. He remembers a look from his father in the basement of the Prinzalbrechtstrasse that he interpreted as "I hope you behave." Soon after, Kleist the elder was sentenced to death by Freisler and was decapitated in Ploetzensee. Ewald Heinrich was released for lack of evidence and he immediately made his way to the front in Italy where he was captured. Kleist wonders to this day why he was released when he had been arrested as an active conspirator and in a country where a negative statement about Hitler could send you to the gallows. One theory he has heard is that the Gestapo released him hoping that Kleist would lead them to his friend, Ludwig von Hammerstein-Equord.

After the war, Kleist founded a respected publishing house and the annual Munich security conference that is to this day a key date on the international security calendar. The conference draws senior statesmen, soldiers and foreign service officers from around the globe.

This is the only signature in my collection that was signed for me personally and for that reason has a special place.

The photo below shows Kleist in a suit with Ludwig Hammerstein's brother Kunrat.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Dr. Eugen Gerstenmaier was born in 1906, the son of a master toolmaker. He grew up in Swabia and completed his Abitur in Stuttgart in 1931.In university he studied philosophy and theology in Tuebingen, Rostock and Zurich. He qualified for a university professorship in 1936 after completing his thesis on the relationship between Church and Creation. He was refused a professorship as a result of a clear track record of opposition to the Nazis.

In 1936, he started working for Bishop Theodore Heckel as a scientific assistant the Berlin External Affairs Office of the Evangelical Churches, a group that did not publicly criticise Hitler. Gerstenmaier then with the established contacts Ecumenical Council in Geneva. During the war he assisted in providing spiritual support to POWs and slave labourers.

Early in the war he met two men who would ultimately became founding members of the resistance cell organised by Helmuth James von Moltke ? the Kreisau Circle. They where Hans Bernd von Haeften, brother to Stauffenberg's ADC Werner, and Adam vonTrot zu Solz, both of whom were foreign service officers. In 1942, Gerstenmaier became a full fledged member of the Kreisau Circle, a group of intellectuals who met periodically to discuss ideas for the governance of Europe after Hitler?s inevitable defeat. Within the circle, Gerstenmaier was a Christian conservative. He shared the views of Peter Yorck von Wartenburg. After he lost his home to allied bombing, Gerstenmaier moved in with Yorck and his wife.

Gerstenmaier was, unlike many in the Kreisau group, in favour of direct and violent action to remove Hitler. He was present at the Bendlerblock on July 20 and was heavily involved in attempting to push the coup ahead, providing the scripts for proclamations that were never delivered due to the conspirators? inability to gain control of the radio stations. As the day progressed, Gerstenmaier, who had left for the Bendlerblock armed with a pistol and a bible, proposed to ensure the radicalisation of the coup by adding some bodies. He proposed that the conspirators arrest and execute Dr. Goebbels and other senior Nazis in Berlin. He wanted to ensure that there was no turning back.

Dr. Gerstenmaier was arrested in the Bendler early in the morning of July 20. He was tried before the Volksgerichtshof and astonishingly received only 7 years hard labour for what should have been a no brainer death sentence. This seemingly soft sentence led to a lot of criticism of Gerstenmaier after the war as some presumed he had sold out his co-conspirators to the Gestapo. This is non-sensical as the Gestapo could have extracted any information through torture and would likely not have honoured a plea bargain arrangement. Gerstenmaier's wife recalls that People?s Court President Freisler probably spared Gerstenmaier to personally ingratiate himself with the wife of a friend who he had a bit of a crush on.

After the war, he was released from prison by American troops. He was then active in the Evangelical Aid Organisation and in setting up the July 20 aid organisation to assist the families of executed conspirators. From 1945 to 1951, he was its leader. Gerstenmaier was elected to the Presidency of the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament. On January 31, 1969, he resigned his post as Bundestag President after public controversy about claims of certain compensation benefits he received as a victim of Nazi oppression. While he was legally entitled to the compensation, he received far more than most who had suffered similar damages and his award was judged to be a scandal. Suspicions of political influence could not be allayed.

The document below is signed by Gerstenmaier (top right) and other former Bundestag presidents including (from top to bottom beginning with the left side): Rita Suessmuth, Wolfgang Thierse, Gerstenmaier, Kai-Uwe von Hassel, Annemarie Renger, Karl Carstens, Richard Stuecklin, Rainer Barzel and Philipp Jenninger.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Graf Joseph Ernst Fugger of Gloett (26 October 1895 - 13 May 1981) was a German landowner and politician. He was the youngest of three children of Prince Carl Ernst Fugger von Gloett (1859-1940) and Countess Elisabeth von Quadt zu Wykradt und Isny (1862-1940). In his first marriage, he was married to Princess Stephanie of Hohenzollern (1895-1975) between 1920 to 1943. Since 1975, he was married to Angela Kienlin, 40 years his junior.

Since 1940, Graf Fugger von Gloett was chief of the former Princely House of Fugger Gloett and styled himself "Prince of Fugger Gloett". During the Nazi period, he had contacts with the resistance as a minor member of the Kreisau Circle. Assuming success of the coup, Graf Fugger von Gloett was willing to act as Governor of Bavaria.

After the failure of the Stauffenberg attempt, Fugger was tried with other Kreisau members. In Helmuth James von Moltke's letter dated January 19, 1945 and smuggled out of prison, he describes his trial before Freisler, the same trial that resulted in Fugger's sentence to 3 years in prison. Moltke reports: "Finally Fugger. He made a very good impression. He had been unwell for a long time and had now recovered, was modest, sure, did not incriminate any of us, spoke nice Bavarian, and had never pleased me as much as yesterday; entirely without nerves, while here he had always been terribly scared. He admitted at once that it was clear to him after what he had heard today that he should have made a report, and he was dismissed so mildly that I thought last night that he would acquitted."

After the war he belonged to the German Bundestag in its first term from 1949 until 1953. From 1953 to 1956 he was Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Association (IPA). From 1954 to 1962 he was a member of the Bavarian Landtag. On the basis of his childlessness, he adopted his nephew Albert, son of his older sister Maria (1894-1935) and Ferdinand Graf von Arco Zinneberg (1882-1940) [bottom right signature on my Stauffenberg document posted above].

The signature below is another taken from the Stauffenberg document described and illustrated above.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Johannes Popitz studied political science and law in Dessau, Leipzig and Halle. After graduation he was a government lawyer in 1917. He served in the Reich Ministry of Finance since 1919, where he was appointed state secretary in 1925. He was married to Cornelia Slot, with whom he had a daughter and two sons. Chancellor Franz von Papen appointed him Reich commissar for the Prussian Ministry of Finance after deposing the government of Prussia on July 20, 1932. A year later on April 21, 1933, the National Socialist leaders appointed Popitz as the new Prussian minister of finance. Up to this time, he was still not a member of the Party. .From 1938 on, he worked together with Hans Oster from Amt Ausland Abwehr. After the burning and looting of Jewish places of worship and businesses on Kristallnacht in November 1938, Popitz offered his resignation in protest. Given his importance to the country's financial administration, it was rejected.

Popitz has one of the old school within the resistance and saw eye-to-eye with Carl Goerdeler. He was a right wing conservative who looked to replace the Nazi government with a returned monarchy under Crown Prince Wilhelm. Popitz was also a member of the "Wednesday Society," a small group of high officials and industrialists who had evolved from a debating club into a centre for conservative opposition to the National Socialist regime. Other members of this pseudo-political/intellectual group included Ludwig Beck and Ulrich von Hassel. Through these contacts Popitz became immersed in the various coup plans. He drew up a provisional post-Hitler constitution, the "Provisional Basic Law of the State," to propose the implementation of his ideas following a successful coup. The provisions of this document were not democratic. Rather, they continued the authoritarianism practiced by the current government in another form.

During the summer of 1943, Popitz and Carl Langbehn, a lawyer and friend of Himmler's, developed a plan to meet with Himmler in secret and to suggest that communications be opened with the West to remove Hitler, sue for peace and continue the war in the East. The two were discouraged form pursuing their high-risk plan but they opted for it anyway. Their real plan was to weaken the Nazi regime by encouraging Himmler to stage an SS coup, setting the stage for a counter coup by the conspirators. Interestingly, the fiction of an SS coup was introduced by the conspirators on July 20 to justify the launching of Operation Valkyrie. Himmler listened to their treasonous proposals and did not report them or arrest them. However, in September 1943 a compromising message was intercepted from Langbehn to Western contacts and Himmler had no option but to arrest his old friend. Popitz was not arrested and an order was given that Langbehn was not to be tortured. However, Popitz was put under Gestapo surveillance. Their days were clearly numbered and the day following the July 20 plot, Popitz was arrested as well.

On October 3, 1944, Popitz was tried before the Volksgerichtshof and was sentenced to death by Freisler. Popitz' execution was deferred by Himmler so that his contacts with the West could be kept available if needed. However, the time came when Himmler could delay no longer without drawing unwelcome attention to his involvement and on February 2, 1945, Popitz was hanged in barbaric fashion at Ploetzensee Prison in Berlin.

The document below is Popitz' acceptance to a state dinner invitation.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Hi Colin,

Many thanks again for this excellent thread and fascinating collection's theme. :beer:

Very informative and excessiveley well documented. :jumping:

Again, many thanks and Bravo!!!

Cheers.

Ch.

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Thanks again for the kind comments. Now, moving on to some signatures and bios related to July 20 in Paris:

This bio is a compilation from various internet sources:

Generalfeldmarschall Hans Guenther von Kluge holds a key position as one of the few officers who claimed adherence to the conspiracy between 1943 and 1944. Despite the fact that he was privy to the conspirators' detailed plans and agreed form time to time to support them, he could never follow through. He always pulled back before the decisive moment and as a result, he is counted among the conspirators but is generally viewed as the personification of the opportunity lost. In 1943, von Kluge was the commander of Army Group Centre. His chief of operations was Colonel Henning von Tresckow, the prime mover of the 1943 plots and of the rewriting of Operation Valkyrie to suit the plotters' plans. In 1944, von Kluge had switched to be Commander in Chief West, a role that was crucial to the outcome of the July Plot overall.

Kluge served on the General Staff from 1910 to 1918. During the inter-war period, he rose quickly through the ranks to colonel in 1930, major-general in 1933 and lieutenant-general the following year. After 1936, Kluge was given command of an army corps. His interest in mobile warfare soon won Hitler?s notice.

Kluge was personally repelled by Hitler's Capone-like political style and he was equally disturbed by the way in which the Jewish persecution was carried out, although it is unclear whether this was based on morality or a disagreement on tactics and optics. In the September 1939 campaign against Poland, Kluge proved to be an outstanding military leader. In Poland, von Kluge achieved spectacular successes. He also recoiled in horror at the crimes of the Einsatzgruppen. Consistent with his later moral cowardice, Kluge commented on these crimes but did nothing to impeded them.

In early 1939, von Kluge heard the shocking news that Hitler planned to wage war against the West at the earliest opportunity. He pondered whether or not to join the conspirators in their second major coup plan (the first being Oster's plan in 1938 that was scuppered by Chamberlain folding his hand at Munich). He decided to decline given Hitler's immense popularity with the German people and troops. But he did not report the conspirators, consistent with his ideas of honour and with their status as brother officers. The October 1939 coup attempt would be aborted by Army Chief of Staff General Franz Halder based on his belief that Hitler was aware of the conspiracy. This fear emerged from Hitler's vow to "destroy the spirit of Zossen" (the headquarters of the General Staff) as he became frustrated with lukewarm support for his aggressive plans from his generals.

In June '41, Hitler awarded Kluge a field marshal's baton and selected him to be a senior general in the invasion of Russia. Kluge served in Army Group Centre and was promoted to its command after Feodor von Bock was stricken with illness. Hitler's generalship and inability to come to terms with even the most requisite of retreats made Kluge come to doubt his fitness for command, possibly even his sanity. Throughout 1943, von Kluge began to establish contact with the resistance, welcoming senior resisters at his headquarters and attending secret meetings in Berlin. The resisters can be forgiven for assuming that von Kluge was on side with their plans.

Upon taking over Army Group Centre, von Kluge found his conscience in operations officer, von Bock's nephew General Staff Colonel Henning von Tresckow. Tresckow was the heart and sole of the military resistance, perhaps doing more than any other officer to ensure that Hitler was removed form power. Tresckow immediately sensed an opportunity in von Kluge and he never missed an opportunity to turn von Kluge more toward the conspiracy. He also used von Kluge's general sympathy for the conspiracy as a chance to set up a resistance cell primarily of aristocratic general staff officers in Army Group Centre.

Harold Deutsche noted that there are four general phases to the resistance: the first phase in 1938 was centred on the Abwehr; the second phase in 1939 on the Army High Command in Zossen; the third in 1943 was centred on the Tresckow cell in Army Group Centre in Russia and the final phase in 1944 was centred on the reserve army HQ in the Bendlerstrasse.

In March 1943, Tresckow succeeded in luring Hitler to visit Army Group Centre HQ near Smolensk. Several assassination attempts were planned and one was initiated (more on these when I get to the Army Group Centre bios). Despite knowledge of the plans, von Kluge did not assist. Rather, he obstructed Tresckow but again did not report any of his detailed knowledge. Von Kluge's tenure as commander of Army Group Centre ended with a serious traffic accident.

When ready to report back for duty, von Kluge was assigned to the Western Front. On June 29, 1944 he was appointed Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt's replacement as Commander in Chief West following that officer's famous "make peace you fools!" exclamation to Keitel.

Kluge was now commander of all the German forces in France and was now in a position to give the conspirators the pivotal support they needed for their coup. Upon taking over the West, von Kluge was of the opinion that Rommel and von Rundstedt were overly pessimistic, until he arrived and observed how bad things truly were. After making a series of visits to the front, von Kluge landed firmly back in the conspirators' camp, particularly after a visit by the conspirators' liaison, Stauffenberg's cousin Colonel Caesar von Hofaecker.

On July 16, military governor for Paris and co-conspirator General Karl Heinrich von Stuelpnagel informed Rommel and Kluge here would be a coup attempt very soon. Kluge promised to help only if they succeeded in killing Hitler while Rommel promised to cooperate with fewer provisos. Rommel was seriously wounded by air attack the next day and the absence of his support and decisive leadership is sorely missed 3 days later.

On July 20, Stuelpnagel threw his weight decisively behind the coup, issuing orders for the arrest of all SS, SD and Gestapo personnel in Paris without informing von Kluge. Once von Kluge learned of Hitler's survival, it was clear that it was futile to expect any support from this quarter. In fact he is claimed to have stated: "I would have gone along if the swine had been dead!" As soon as von Kluge found out what Stuelpnagel had done, he countermanded that officer's arrest orders and took steps to free the arrested security personnel. He also lost no time in contacting Wolfschanze to express his loyalty and to report Stuelpnagel. Hitler was immediately suspicious about von Kluge but he was key to the defence of this front and could not be replaced.

On August 15, 1944, von Kluge decided to pay a front line visit to his troops near the deteriorating Falaise Gap. Caught by over powering allied air power, his command car and radio destroyed by airstrike, von Kluge and his close staff were incommunicado for more than 24 hours. That was too much for Hitler who immediately assumed that von Kluge was making contact with the Americans and readying the front for a unilateral surrender. He may have been right. Dr. Udo Esche, Kluge's son-in-law (who provided the cyanide capsule with which the field marshal later commited suicide) told Allied interrogators that Kluge had contemplated surrender and "went to the front line but was unable to get in touch with the Allied commanders." Hitler removed him before he could regain contact and replaced him with Generalfeldmarschall Model and recalled von Kluge to Berlin. Unsure of his reception in Berlin and seeing his cherished military reputation in tatters, von Kluge took cyanide near Valmy France while having a rest stop on the drive to Berlin. He was one of three field marshals to die as a direct consequence of the July plot, the other two being von Witzleben and Rommel.

Von Kluge left a final note for Hitler. It was delivered following his suicide. An excerpt follows:

"When you receive these lines I shall be no more. I cannot bear the reproach that I have sealed the fate of the West through faulty measures, and I have no means of defending myself. I draw a conclusion from that and am dispatching myself where already thousands of my comrades are. I have never feared death. Life has no more meaning for me, and I also figure on the list of war criminals who are to be delivered up.

Our applications were not dictated by pessimism but by sober knowledge of the facts. I do not know if Field-Marshal Model, who has been proved in every sphere, will still master the situation. From my heart I hope so. Should it not be so, however, and your cherished new weapons not succeed, then, my Fuehrer, make up your mind to end the war. The German people have borne such untold suffering that it is time to put an end to this fnghtfulness. There must be ways to attain this end, and above all to prevent the Reich from falling under the Bolshevist heel."

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Edited by ColinRF

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Autograph collector's card signed by Karl-Heinrich v. Stuelpnagel when Quartermaster II of the OKH.

As early as 1938, General der Infanterie Karl-Heinrich von Stuelpnagel was heavily involved in conspiring against Hitler's regime in his roll as a subordinate of Ludwig Beck. But his most significant involvement was as Military Governor (France), a post he held from 1942 to July 20, 1944. Stuelpnagel was the most committed resister on the western front and he did his utmost to fill his staff with like-minded officers and to influence others, including Generalfeldmarschall Rommel, that something must be done to unseat the Nazis before it was too late.

As his ADC was Stauffenberg's cousin Oberstleutnant Caesar von Hofacker, Stuelpnagel knew of the July 20 attempt in advance. When he observed Generalfeldmarschall von Kluge's hesitation, Stuelpnagel moved quickly to force Kluge's hand by following Generalfeldmarschall von Witzleben's order calling for the immediate arrest of all Gestapo and SD personnel in the local area. The regime's entire security establishment in Paris was uprooted and placed under arrest within in a matter of hours and firing squads were tasked to shoot certain senior functionaries on the morning of the 21. Only when it became widely known that the plot had failed was Stuelpnagel's order rescinded.

Kluge was furious that Stuelpnagel had tried to tip him into supporting the conspiracy by using such methods and duly reported his July 20th activities to Berlin in an effort to exonerate himself. But he also encouraged his subordinate to "get into civilian clothes and disappear somewhere," knowing that this was not the way for such a man of honour. On July 21, Stuelpnagel received Keitel's ominous order to report personally to Berlin. Embarking on his last trip by car, he instructed his driver to detour and break the journey on the old Verdun battlefield. Stuelpnagel got out, taking a short walk beside a canal where he had fought in WWI and, when out of sight, shot himself in the head. He fell into the adjoining waterway but was rescued by his staff. His failed suicide attempt destroyed his optic nerves and resulted in blindness in both eyes. Stuelpnagel was nursed back to some degree of health before he was tried in the Volksgerichtshof and sentenced to death by hanging on August 30, 1944.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Signed photograph of Otto Abetz, German Ambassador to France.

An art teacher, Otto Abetz lent his support to the Nazi Party in 1931 and joined the German Foreign Office as a French expert in 1935. He spent a lot of time in France, but was thrown out of the country in 1939 when the French cracked down on a secret fascist association called the Cagoulards. He returned after the German victory in 1940 and in August was named ambassador to the Vichy government. He served in that position for four years (1940 - 1944).

His obligations as ambassador included dealing with all political matters in both occupied and unoccupied France and counseling the German military and police administration in Paris, the capital of Nazi occupied France. His main responsibility was to make sure the French collaborated with the Nazis in furthering their anti-Semitic goals. He played a large part in the deportation of both foreign Jewish refugees and French-born Jews, particularly after Germany occupied southern France in the fall of 1942.

In Paris in 1937, during a visit to Picasso's studio, Abetz pointed to the painting Guernica and asked Picasso, "Did you do that?" Picasso very appropriately responded: "No. You did."

Abetz was not a resister, but he did play a key role in limiting the scope of Hitler's revenge on the officers in Paris who had, after those in Berlin, proceeded the furthest with implementing the Valkyrie orders. When they were made aware of the bomb attack on Hitler, Stuelpnagel and Hofacker moved ahead quickly to arrest of all SS and SD personnel in Paris. Only when the plot was clearly frayed and the navy threatened to intervene did they agree to Generalfeldmarschall von Kluge's order to release the detainees.

At this point, Abetz personally intervened to avoid reprisals. He trained all of his diplomatic skills on a furious SS and Police Leader Brigadefuehrer Oberg, arguing that any rift between the army and SS would lead to catastrophe in France. He brokered a truce that led to Oberg and von Stuelpnagel actually shaking hands in the Hotel Raphael. It was agreed that the Valkyrie detentions would be represented as an exercise and that they would all stick to the same cover story. As a result, arrests and executions of conspirators in Paris were relatively limited in scope despite clear evidence of treason.

After the war, Abetz was tried for war crimes and sentenced to 20 years hard labor. He served just five. Released in 1954, he and his French wife were burned to death in an automobile "accident" on the Cologne-Ruhr autobahn in 1958 when something went wrong with their car's steering wheel. It is suspected that his death may have been a revenge killing for his role in sending French Jews to the gas chambers.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Hans Freiherr von Boineberg-Lengsfeld was born on June 9, 1889, in Eisenach. He served in WWI, and in armoured troops in the early years of WWII when he won a Knight's Cross. He was the Commandant of the Greater Paris area at the time of the July 20 attempt. However, Boineburg-Lengsfeld had stated to Generalfeldmarschall Erwin von Witzleben as early as 1942 that he was ready to take part in a coup, at the time that he was still with 23. Panzer Division. On July 20, his was a key position as he had personal command of Heer troops of the Paris garrison. Boineburg-Lengsfeld was fully briefed on the plans for the coup and was fully in support. He was recruited into the conspiracy against Hitler by General Karl Heinrich von Stuelpnagel, the military governor of France.

He helped Stuelpnagel and his aid Colonel Caesar von Hofacker develop an operational plan to seize control of Paris on X-Day (the anticipated date of the coup d'etat). On July 17, he was informed by Stuelpnagel that the assassination would be attempted within a few days and that he was to arrest all of the regime's security personnel in Paris. Boineburg-Lengsfeld then made sure that he had an up to date map showing all relevant locations.

On July 20, 1944. Boineberg-Lengsfeld led the 1st Garrison Regiment of 325. Security Division in a lightning strike against all SS, SD and Gestapo bases throughout the Paris metropolitan area. These were simultaneous raids intended to result in the disarming and arrest of all of the regime's security apparatus in Paris, and by extension across France. Within one hour, the entire SS, SD, and Gestapo contingent in Paris was in army custody, including senior SS police commanders Carl Oberg and Helmuth Knochen. Boineburg-Lengsfeld personally supervised the operation. The arrests were carried out flawlessly with absolutely no resistance being shown by the SS, despite the fact that some thought they were being taken prisoner by French resistance personnel disguised in German uniforms.

But within hours of Stuelpnagel's brilliant coup, Boineberg-Lengsfeld is compelled to release all SS officials following Hitler's radio broadcast and Kluge's refusal to back Stuelpnagel. Admiral Krancke, in command of about 5,000 marines camped outside Paris also threatened to intervene and with the collapse of Stauffenberg's coup in Berlin, the decision was made that continuing in Paris would risk civil war.

Owing to Stuelpnagel and Hofacker's resourceful cover-up of the Paris-based conspiracy, Boineberg-Lengsfeld escaped the Gestapo's suspicion and survived the war. Given his close association with the conspiracy and his hand in the SS arrests, he was removed from his post as Commandant of Paris and succeeded by General Dietrich Von Choltitz of "Is Paris Burning?" fame. He was put in reserve in August 1944 and served as a commander of fortress troops thereafter. He was taken prisoner and was released June 30, 1946. He died November 20, 1980, in Felsberg-Altenburg, Hessen.

The signature below is on a book awarded as a prize.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Erwin Rommel, Germany's "Desert Fox," is probably the best known of Hitler's commanders. Despite serving a criminal regime, he managed to gain and retain the respect of both his countrymen and his enemies. Rommel is credited with doing his best to fight a chivalrous war, even under "total war" conditions. For example, he was one of the few commanders who refused to implement Hitler's infamous "Commando Order" that required the execution of all captured commandos and saboteurs, whether taken in uniform or not.

A professional soldier, Rommel served in the elite Alpine Corps during the Great War. He was wounded three times, earned the Iron Cross (first and second class) and was awarded Prussia's highest decoration for valour, the Pour Le Merite or "Blue Max." Between the wars, he was an instructor at the Dresden Infantry School from 1929 to 1933 and at the Potsdam War Academy from 1935 to 1938. In 1937, he published his lecture notes, base don his war diaries, as a much-read manual entitled "Infanterie Greift An" (Infantry Attacks). In 1938, Rommel, now an Oberst, was appointed to command Hitler's personal protection battalion, the Fuehrer Begleitbattalion. Promoted to Generalmajor in 1939, he commanded the Fuehrer's mobile headquarters throughout the Polish campaign.

In 1940, Rommel was given command of 7. Panzer Division, later nicknamed the Gespenster-Division (Ghost Division). Remarkably, this was Rommel's first command of a panzer unit. As a reward for outstanding performance in France, Rommel was given command of the German mobile troops that were being sent to North Africa to assist the defeated and dispirited Italians. It was in command of this "Deutches Afrika Korps" that Rommel would achieve his greatest notoriety in the fluid battles fought across the North African desert in 1942. He became the darling of the Nazi press and even Churchill saluted his skills in parliament. In 1943, he was invalided home from Africa, before the inevitable surrender of German forces.

After his return from Africa, Rommel was unemployed for a period, although he did command the German forces entering Italy after that country's surrender and withdrawal from the Axis. Rommel did his best to shore up the beach defences of the "Atlantic Wall" after being placed in command of Heeresgruppe B and made responsible for defending the French coast against the expected Allied invasion. He sought Hitler's permission for his preferred strategy for deploying Germany's mobile reserves close to the likely invasion beaches. Hitler chose instead to keep his tanks in deep reserve until they could be used en masse after Allied intentions became crystal clear. History shows that Rommel's strategy would have served Germany better. The Allies gained a foothold in Normandy and for that point, Rommel judged that the war in the west was lost.

Several members of Rommel's staff were heavily involved in the anti-Hitler conspiracy within the Wehrmacht including his Chief of Staff Hans Speidel, his chief naval aid Friedrich Ruge, and his personal aid Hellmuth Lang. In addition, other high ranking officers serving in the West were involved, particularly General von Stuelpnagel, the Military Governor of occupied France. During Rommel's command in France, several attempts were made to recruit him as an active resister. On several occasions, the conspirators directly approached him. Dr. Karl Stroelin, the Oberbuergermeister of Stuttgart lectured Rommel and appealed to his conscience on multiple occasions. Hans Speidel arranged for Stuelpnagel's adjutant and cousin, Caesar von Hofacker to approach Rommel and seek his approval to assist the plotters by surrendering in the West. On July 11, 1944, Hofacker returned to Berlin to brief Stauffenberg and Goerdeler, thinking Rommel was solidly behind the conspiracy. Lucie Rommel has always maintained that her husband would not have approved of an assassination plot and that he only wanted Hitler deposed, arrested and tried as a criminal.

On July 15, 1944, the same day that Stauffenberg made his first abortive attempt to kill Hitler at Wolfschanze, Rommel wrote to Hitler informing him that it was his opinion that the war was lost and imploring him to make peace. The letter was sent in early August by his successor Hans Guenther von Kluge after Rommel was seriously wounded on July 17, 1944 when his staff car was strafed, most likely by an RCAF spitfire flown by Flt Lt. Charlie Fox, DFC. The Generalfeldmarschall was returning from a briefing session with Sepp Dietrich, the commander of the 1. SS Panzer Korps.

In August, Rommel was well enough to return home to recuperate. From then on things started to go steadily downhill for him as various bomb plot conspirators were tortured and interrogated by the July 20 Special Commission. In October 1944, Rommel was invited to attend upon Hitler at his headquarters to discuss future employment, but he was not well enough to travel. Instead, Generals Burgdorff and Maisel were dispatched to meet with Rommel at his home. They brought with them the shocking news that Rommel had been implicated in the plot, ostensibly by von Hofacker and Speidel. Inclusion of his name on the conspirators' list of prospective members of a post-coup government did not assist his case. It is also possible that von Stuelpnagel mentioned Rommel's name after his suicide attempt while delirious.

Rommel was presented with the choice of honourably killing himself of facing the People's Court under Freisler. He realised that he would never reach Berlin alive if he selected the second option as his name was too important to public opinion to allow it to be publicly listed among the conspirators. He would clearly become the victim of a staged SS accident if he tried to get to Berlin and his family would suffer accordingly. On October 14, 1944, Rommel said goodbye to his family and personal staff and drove off with Burgdorff and Maisel. He took cyanide after the staff car stopped on a country lane not far form his home. He was given a state funeral with full honours and it was not until after the war that the truth of his fate and the nature of his involvement with the Stauffenberg plot became known in Germany and in the West.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Rommel, recently promoted Generalmajor, and now Commandant of Hitler's mobile headquarters and commander of the Fuehrer's escort battalion, writes a post card in ink to his wife Lucie in Wiener Neustadt. The card was mailed from Kreuzberg in East Prussia and is dated September 9, 1939, only six days into World War II.

Dearest Lu!

We are now in the North. In the Northern edition of the Voelkische Beobachter you can see your general next to the Fuehrer at the Vistula River in Graudenz. Things are going amazingly well for me. Almost interesting news.

If we manage to maintain this pace, the war will be over in the West by the end of October, in my opinion. It was well managed you will probably say.

What is Manfred doing? How do they see things at the Castle?

Right hearty greetings,

Your Erwin.

September 9, 1939

Edited by ColinRF

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January 4, 1941

Dear Hausser!

Many thanks for your kind letter dated December 28 and your good wishes for 1941 which I heartily reciprocate.

Your son is a strapping mountaineer. I enjoyed your pictures very much.

To the sorrow of my family I spent Christmas out here very quietly. Albeit, that cannot be helped.

The story about the flares against tanks in the "Ghost Division" is, of course, incorrect. Otherwise the book is well written.

With best wishes from our house to your house.

Yours,

E. Rommel

Edited by ColinRF

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wonderful!!!!

Did you see Puttkamers' photos of July 21/22/23 for sale recently?

I did! And they would be majic to own but I'm not sure of the market value in these tough times. While their provenance would make them a treasure for me, unfortunately the peaks of cash available for collecting do not always coincide with the availability of nice items! Thanks for the heads up!

Colin

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Karl Stroelin was Lord Mayor of the Swabian city of Stuttgart. Like Carl Goerdeler, he was a conservative politician who was an initial admirer of the demonstrated strength and national priorities of the Nazis. Only when Nazi crimes became apparent did he begin to lose faith in Hitler and move into the opposition camp.

He was the son of a career officer and he fought in the First World War. He left the army as a direct result of the downsizing that resulted form the Versailles Treaty. He earned a doctorate with a thesis on the situation of the workers and middle class after the war. He was drawn into the sphere of the Nazi party in the 1920's and joined it in 1931. In 1931, Stroelin ran for election as Lord Mayor of Stuttgart as the Nazi candidate, he was decisively defeated. Instead, he ran for and succeeded in winning a position on the city council. After the rise of Hitler in 1933, Stroelin became Lord Mayor. His main administrative duties as Mayor focused on urban planning and housing matters.

Stroelin was also the chairman of the German Foreign Institute, effectively mayor of the notional administrative city that incorporated all overseas Germans. He was chosen for this role as a result of the fact that many emigrants form Germany were Swabians. After the war, he was accused of encouraging and administering German international intelligence and fifth column activities. It was established at Nuremburg that he intervened with Nazi authorities, including Freisler, to save several people from death sentences.

Stroelin was a close friend of Rommel. In the film "The Desert Fox," he was portrayed by Cedric Hardwick who quite accurately applies influence on the Swabian Field Marshal to revolt against Hitler. It is thought that Stroelin's influence was key in getting Rommel to turn against Hitler, even in the limited way he did so. After the July 20 bomb attack, Stroelin's house was searched by the Gestapo but nothing incriminating against him was found. Nevertheless, he was still suspected given his contacts with Goerdeler and Rommel and he lost his party rank.

As French and American troops advanced on Stuttgart in April 1945, the Nazis declared the city to be a fortress and called for its defenders to fight to the last. As a former officer Stroelin knew that the city could not be defended. The city had already been significantly damaged by air attack and a ground assault could only lead to the loss of remaining buildings and inhabitants. Stroelin risked his life and reputation and made the bold move to secretly contact the French army and he offered the peaceful surrender of his city. The Gestapo learned of his contact with the Allies and obtained an arrest warrant against him. However, transmission of the arrest order was sabotaged and he was not arrested in the waning days of the war.

Stroelin as a Lord Mayor of a major German city and senior Nazi leader was initially seen as a major Nazi offender. When the Allies came to understand his involvement with the July plot and resistance, he was released on bail and quickly processed through the denazification courts. He was a witness at the Nuremburg war crimes trials, primarily in support of von Neurath. After the war, Stroelin was shunned by the left and the right given his Nazi past and as a result of his surrender of Stuttgart.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Generalleutnant Hans Speidel was, like Rommel and Stauffenberg, a Swabian from the Wurtemburg area. He represented one of the younger and more energetic members of the resistance. He is sometimes presented as having come to the side of the conspirators only after experiencing two years of brutal and total war on the eastern front but it should be remembered that Speidel served as an aid to Beck for diplomatic assignments in the pre-war period and he was almost certainly influenced by him.

Speidel served in the First World War and he stayed with the Reichswehr in the inter-war period becoming a General Staff officer and reaching the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel by 1939. He served in the French campaign as Chief of Staff to the military commander in France and in 1942 he was transferred East, becoming Chief of Staff to V Corps. By 1943, he was Chief of Staff to Army Group South and a Generalmajor. In 1943, Speidel was Chief of Staff to General Hubert Lanz. In this role, he conspired with Lanz and one of his Corps commanders, Hyazinth von Strachwitz, to kidnap and, if necessary, kill Hitler during an expected front visit at Poltava on February 17. The plan failed when Lanz retreated in violation of "stand fast" orders and was relieved.

In April 1944, Rommel asked for him and Speidel was transferred west to become Chief of Staff to Army Group B, the primary defensive force for the coming Normandy invasion. In this position, Speidel did much to influence Rommel to join, or least not impeded the conspirators in their efforts to unseat Hitler. There is talk, mostly based on sloppy history by David Irving, that Speidel deliberately sabotaged German operational efforts to respond to the Normandy invasion by withholding panzer reserves that could have been committed. However, this has been discounted by Rommel's naval aid von Ruge: "There does not exist any proof, and betrayal certainly was not in Speidel's nature."

After Rommel's wounding in a strafing attack on July 17, 1944, Speidel continued in his role as Chief of Staff to Army Group B, now serving Generalfeldmarschall Hans von Kluge who was performing the dual roles of Commander of Army Group B and Command in Chief West. He was unaware of the pending July 20 attack even though he was engaged as a full member of the conspiracy. Given that just two full days had passed between von Kluge's assumption of command and the bomb attack on Hitler, Speidel had no opportunity to brief von Kluge on the conspirators? plans, despite the fact that he was known to be generally supportive of removing Hitler. During July 20 in Paris, Speidel had little opportunity to influence events as they played out very quickly between late afternoon when orders were given by von Stuelpnagel to arrest all SS and Gestapo personnel. Later in the evening, it became apparent that Hitler had survived and was still in control.

After the collapse in Paris, very few officers were arrested compared to Berlin. Despite clear evidence of a pervasive resistance effort. This could have been due to a reluctance to disrupt the command structure on a critical front but was more likely due to a sham cover story agreed to between the army and SS to explain the reasons for the arrests.

Speidel was not spared however. He was arrested by the Gestapo and interrogated. David Irving says that he implicated Rommel under torture but Speidel's close post-war friendship with the Rommel family belies this accusation.

It is clear that Hitler believed Speidel guilty. However, he was one of the few, if not the only one, who was considered for expulsion from the Wehrmacht by the army court of honour chaired by von Rundstedt and who was not expelled. It is thought that Speidel's close contacts with senior officers like Guderian protected him. Expulsion from the Wehrmacht was a necessary pre-condition for trial before the Peoples' Court so Speidel was effectively protected from both the security service and Hitler's judiciary. Nevertheless Speidel was jailed by the Gestapo. At the end of the war he escaped and was saved by French troops.

After the war, Speidel was involved in the creation of the Bundeswehr, rising to full general and Commander in Chief of all Nato ground forces in Europe.

The signed (on rear) portrait photo below is a rarely seen one of Speidel in his Heer uniform. The other photo is a pre-war shot of Speidel (left) with Beck on a diplomatic assignment.

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Edited by ColinRF

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Guenther Blumentritt was a Bavarian, born in Munich in 1897. He joined the German Army and during the First World War he served on the Eastern Front. Blumentritt was a close friend of Erich von Manstein. He served as a staff officer in the invasions of Poland in 1939 and France in 1940. In 1941, he served in the Russian Campaign before returning to Germany to serve as Chief of Operations. He strenuously opposed the invasion of Russia, noting unavoidable parallels between the German plan and that of Napoleon in 1812. He tended to concur with Hitler's blindly applied no retreat policy, again citing the fate of Napoleon's army during its collapse in 1812.

There is controversy surrounding the extent of Blumentritt's involvement in the July plot. David Irving, whose interpretations are now discredited, but who was no slouch at uncovering rare documents, heavily implied that Blumentritt was in the know prior to the bomb attack on Hitler. At the time of the Stauffenberg bomb attack, Blumentritt was Chief of Staff for von Rundstedt in his capacity as Commander in Chief West. In his post-war "other side of the hill" interviews with Basil Liddell-Hart, Blumentritt admitted that Hans Speidel had drawn him aside in March 1944 and, speaking for Rommel said: "The time has come when we must tell the Fuehrer that we cannot continue the war." With the agreement of von Rundstedt, a telegram was sent to Hitler to this effect - no reply was received. Subsequently, Speidel informed Blumentritt that there were men in Germany who were preparing to depose Hitler. He specifically identified von Witzleben, Hoepner, Goerdeler and Beck. Blumentritt later asserted that Speidel did not raise the spectre of assassination although this must be considered disingenuous as a man as smart as Blumentritt must have known that there was no prospect of a successful coup while Hitler lived.

The famous telegram sent by von Rundstedt, followed by his "make peace you fools" phone call with Keitel, provided the impetus for Rundstedt's removal and replacement by Guenther Hans von Kluge. Blumentritt remained in his role as von Kluge?s Chief of Staff. On July 20, Blumentritt was front and centre as von Kluge initially welcomed news of Hitler's assassination and prepared to halt V-1 attacks on England and open negotiations with the Allies. Later, as mixed news emerged, he advised von Kluge to call Wolfschanze where no one could be found to confirm or deny Hitler;s death. In the end, it was Blumentritt who correctly interpreted the circumstantial evidence to mean that there had been an unsuccessful attempt on the Fuehrer. After von Kluge made his decision to detach himself from the plotters, Blumentritt advised him to send Hitler a message of congratulations on his survival. He also was instrumental in concert with Ambassador Abetz, in brokering the mutually agreed fiction adhered to by Heer and SS officer alike that the arrests on July 20 had been an exercise. This had the effect of limiting the Gestapo's victims in Paris to less than a dozen officers.

Blumentritt was called to attend on Hitler and he fully expected to be arrested and perhaps executed given the fates that had befallen other senior commanders in France. Instead, Hitler conferred the Knight's Cross on him and ironically put him in command of an SS Corps. Blumentritt survived the war with his military and personal reputation largely intact.

The letter below is the transmittal cover for the signed picture. The group shot includes (from the left) Blumentritt, Speidel, Rommel and von Rundstedt at the latter's HQ Roche Guyon Paris.

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Edited by ColinRF

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:Cat-Scratch: :Cat-Scratch: :Cat-Scratch:

Three cat salute!!

Colin seriously, I am BEGGING you to do an article.

The BDOS would LOVE this stuff too! The BDOS is the German medal collecting magazine:Orden.

Edited by Ulsterman

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