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    Autographs of the German Resistance & July 20 plot

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    Signed letter on Franz Halder's letterhead as General der Artillerie. By the date of this letter, he had already been in Ludwig Beck's former job as Chief of the Army General Staff for three months, since September 1, 1938.

    Halder was a conservative and much respected senior officer, much like his predecessor Beck. Lacking some of the Beck's charisma, the new Chief of Staff struck conspirator Gisevius as little more as an "obedient functionary, a colorless, bespectacled schoolmaster." Upon inheriting his job, Halder stayed in constant communication with Beck. As a result, he picked up Beck's role in the nascent anti-Hitler conspiracy exactly where it had been left off when Beck resigned.

    A driving force behind Oster's 1938 plan to arrest - and unbeknownst to the other conspirators - to kill Hitler, Halder put his full support behind the 1938 coup plan as he attempted to bring Field Marshal von Brauschitsch, the C-in-C of the army, on side. Von Brauschitsch balked at the risk. Halder feared Oster's plan to storm the Chancellery given Hitler's exponentially growing popularity with the German people and troops at that time. Instead he favoured a planned fatal accident.

    Neville Chamberlain's "peace in our time" initiative signed at Munich "pulled the rug out from under" the plotters. The plans for a coup were shelved. Halder was still bitter in the late 1960's over the collapse of British nerve that led to the Munich agreement and the collapse of the plot. A British writer who met Halder in 1969 stated that during their interview "he became agitated at the memory of the 1938 plot and rose from his chair, shaking an accusing finger with the words, "it was your Prime Minister, your Prime Minister who ruined our chance by giving in to Hitler!"

    Halder was also heavily involved in the 1939 plot put together by Oberst Groscurth and Assistant Chief of Staff General Karl-Friedrich von Stuelpnagel. Veering between a nervous breakdown and renewed determination to remove Hitler, Halder says he carried a pistol into Hitler's presence at several meetings held over a period of weeks with the intent of putting an end to him personally. But Halder never mustered the courage or sang froid to draw the gun and pull the trigger. He also never managed to reach the level of determination required to actually launch that the coup. In the end, he asked Abwehr Chief Admiral Canaris to take the lead, much the latter's fury. By this stage, Halder determined that Hitler had grown too strong to remove by force after his successes in France and the Low Countries.

    He determined that there was no chance for a coup to succeed, even if Hitler were arrested or killed, and proceeded to take refuge in strict adherence to his professional duties. As such, he became an unwilling servant of Hitler's war machine and acted in this capacity until being dismissed during the Stalingrad debacle in 1942.

    Halder was sacked on September 24th, 1942, in the midst of the worsening crisis. Halder's removal "was an unpleasant scene" as "Halder left the map room alone, shunned by the officers of Hitler's entourage." An embarrassed General Schmundt, Hitler's adjutant and chief of personnel, ordered an officer to attend Halder who, with tears in his eyes, thanked him saying, "If you had experienced what just happened to me you would understand how I appreciate that you are with me."



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    A traditional conservative, Dr. Carl Goerdeler was the primary political/diplomatic personality in the Widerstand or anti-Hitler resistance movement. He was one of the first to come to the conclusion that the Nazis were going to be disastrous for Germany. Initially Goerdeler harboured the opinion that the radical factions around Himmler and Goring were the source of the problem and all would be well if he could only engage Hitler in man-to-man conversation and make him see the light.

    In 1937, the Nazi deputy mayor of Leipzig, acting against Goerdeler's specific orders, ordered the removal of the statue of Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn. Goerdeler demanded its restitution and resigned his post as Mayor of Leipzig in protest when this was not carried out. Goerdeler became passionately committed to overthrowing Hitler and the Nazi regime and he spent the rest of his life planning the new German state that would follow a coup d'etat. The conspirators agreed that Goerdeler should be designated acting chancellor in a post-coup government.

    In 1938, Goerdeler was heavily involved in the coup plan that would almost certainly have put an end to Hitler had Chamberlain not capitulated to him at Munich. After the appeasement decision was announced, Goerdeler was bitterly disappointed and very critical of the Western allies.

    On July 16, 1944, Claus v. Stauffenberg learned that the Gestapo had issued a warrant for Goerdeler's arrest. Warned by Stauffenberg, Goerdeler went into hiding, standing ready to come to the Bendlerstrasse on July 20th.

    After evading the authorities for several weeks Goerdeler made the fatal mistake of returning to his family home to visit his parents' graves. He was recognized, denounced for the offered reward, and arrested by the Gestapo on August 12, 1944. He was tortured for several months and stood trial before the People's Court. Sentenced to death, Goerdeler was brutally hanged at Ploetzensee on February 2, 1945.

    Below - Original press photo of Dr. Goerdeler used by German newspapers in proclaiming Dr. Goerdeler's fugitive status after Stauffenberg's bomb plot. Inscription on reverse reads:

    Fig. No. A 130 130 edited on 2.8.44

    Due to complicity with the assassination attempt on the Fuehrer on 20.7.1944, on this day became a fugitive:

    Retired mayor Dr. Karl Goerdeler, born 31.7.1884 in Schneidemuehl, last resident in Leipzig. For information leading to his arrest, a reward of a million Reichmarks is offered. All persons with any information are asked to provide it to the nearest police authority.



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    Iron Cross (second class) award document signed by Generalleutnant Friedrich Olbricht in his capacity as C.O. of the 24th infantry division. Olbricht commanded this formation during the 1939 Polish campaign and received the Knight's Cross on October 27, 1939 in recognition of his efforts.

    Involved with the plotters since 1933, Olbricht established friendships with such noted resisters as Beck, Hoepner, Witzleben, Goerdeler and Oster in the Abwehr. In 1940, he was appointed to a combined staff and command position as head of the General Army Office and Deputy C.O. of the Home Army. Olbricht's position as deputy to Fromm was critical to the future success of any coup plan. He was one of the few conspiring officers able to wield command authority over a significant body of troops located within the Reich.

    On October 1st, 1943 Olbricht was joined by a new Chief of Staff, Colonel Claus Schenck Graf v. Stauffenberg. Stauffenberg and Olbricht revised the standing orders for Valkyrie, which were intended to allow the regime's reserve troops to be mobilised to put down any internal unrest or a slave labour rebellion. Instead, the Valkyrie orders were subtly tailored by the plotters to allow Home Army troops to be used in staging a coup against the regime, albeit without the troops' knowledge.

    On July 15th, 1944, Stauffenberg flew to Fuehrerhauptquartier Wolfschanze with the intent of killing Hitler, Goring and Himmler during the daily briefing. He did not "throw the bomb" as Goring and Himmler did not attend - but Olbricht issued the Valkyrie order in expectation that Stauffenberg had carried out the assassination. He had to hastily cancel it once he learned that the attempt had been aborted. On July 20th, Olbricht, who was still under immense stress from his brush with disaster on the 15th, did not issue the Valkyrie order until he had actually heard from Stauffenberg, thus delaying the launch of the coup for several key hours. Upon collapse of the July 20th coup attempt, Olbricht was "tried" by Fromm by pseudo-court martial, was found guilty of high treason and was shot by firing squad in the courtyard of the Bendlerstrasse with the other main plotters - Stauffenberg, Haeften and Mertz v. Quirnheim.

    "We may be able to hold out for some time yet and defend ourselves. Perhaps one more night, perhaps two more. But we may be defeated within the hour. I will die like a soldier. I will then be dying for a good cause, of that I am absolutely convinced. We have taken the ultimate risk for Germany."

    General der Infanterie Olbricht's last telephone call on the night of July 20th, 1944




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    Hoffmann photographic postcard of Generalleutnant Paul von Hase as Commandant of the Berlin Garrison. Signed in person in 1942. On July 20, Paul von Hase was actively involved in executing the Valkyrie plan. He was also heavily involved in the planning and execution role for several other abortive coup attempts, particularly those of 1938 and 1939. As commander of the Berlin garrison, General von Hase had command authority over all troops stationed in the City of Berlin. Hase was instrumental in making the critical decision to retain Major Remer as the commander of the Grossdeutschland guard battalion. Hase expected that Remer could be relied upon to blindly obey his superiors even if they were conspirators. This turned out to be a tragic miscalculation as Remer's defection to Goebbels was instrumental in the ultimate miscarriage of the plot. It is known that von Hase's Berlin command headquarters were a hive of activity during Valkyrie and the General was possibly too distracted to closely supervise the hour-by-hour activities of Remer.

    As the coup unraveled, Paul von Hase was ordered to report to Minister Goebbels and he was arrested at the Minister's office late in the evening on July 20. Included as a defendant in the first of the show trials before the People's Court, Paul von Hase stood shoulder to shoulder with Witzleben, Hoepner, Stieff, Wartenburg and several others at a two-day ordeal held on August 7 and 8. He withstood the bellowing accusations of "Judge" Roland Freisler without flinching. As the outcome was a foregone conclusion, all of the defendants were convicted. They were taken almost immediately to Ploetzensee Prison where they were unceremoniously strung up and hung from nooses suspended from meat hooks. Witnesses to the executions noted that von Hase's coolness and proud military bearing never failed him right up to the last moment.




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    Fascinating, and inspirational. Nice to see some real heroes.

    Years ago, I had an extensive correspondence with the widow of Adam von Trott. She offered to send me some of the letters he had written to her, but I sensed she was just being gracious and that she didn't really want to let them go, so I declined . . . .

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    Thanks Ed. Good moral decision but one I would have trouble making given my collecting interest. Years ago my grandfather offered me his OBE but I didn't feel comfortable accepting it. He earned it as a senior fire service officer in Coventry in '41. Needless to say, when he died it went to the other side of the family. I've never regretted my decision but I would liked to have had it.

    Have you read Justin Cartwright's novel "A Song Before its Sung?" Its a fictional treatment of von Trott and its a fine book.


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    Erwin von Witzleben (December 04, 1881 - August 08, 1944) Von Witzleben was born in Breslau, on December 4, 1881 was married to Else Kleeberg, with whom he had a daughter and a son. He joined the army in March 1901 as a second lieutenant in the 7th Grenadier Regiment. On the outbreak of the First World War Witzleben he was appointed Adjutant of the 19th Reserve Brigade. He served on the Western Front where he won the Iron Cross. In April 1917, Witzleben assumed command of a battalion in the 6th Infantry. The following year he became General Staff Officer to the 108th Infantry Division.

    A career officer, Erwin von Witzleben was among those few allowed to remain in service in the Reichswehr after the First World War. In January 1921 Witzleben was given command of the 8th Machine Gun Company. He was on the General Staff of the Wehrkries IV (1922-25), 12th Cavalry Regiment (1925-26) and Infantry Command III (1926-28). He became Chief of Staff of Wehrkreis IV (1929-31) and commander of the 8th Infantry Regiment (1931-33).

    In 1934 Witzleben was promoted to major general and appointed commander of Wehrkries III, replacing General Werner von Fritsch, who was named Commander in Chief of the Army. An early opponent of Hitler, Witzleben joined with other officers in demanding a military inquiry into the death of Kurt von Schleicher following the Night of the Long Knives. However, the pro-Hitler Defence Minister, Werner von Blomberg, refused to allow it to take place.

    Witzleben was even more furious when his friend, General Werner von Fritsch, was dismissed as Commander in Chief of the Army on a trumped up charge of homosexuality, staged by Himmler and Heydrich. Witzleben plotted with Ludwig Beck, Franz Halder, Wilhelm Canaris, Hans Oster, Wolf von Helldorf, Kurt Hammerstein-Equord and Erich Hoepner in 1938 to arrest Hitler and depose his government. This plot was undone by Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler.

    On the outbreak of the Second World War, Witzleben was recalled to the German Army. In the invasion of France, Witzleben commanded the 1st Army. His troops broke through the Maginot Line in June 1940 and then occupied Alsace-Lorraine. As a result of this action, Witzleben was promoted to the rank of field marshal and he served as Commander in Chief West in France and, after the failure of the Operation Barbarossa, he once again began plotting against Adolf Hitler. The Gestapo was informed that he was once again being critical of the government and, in 1942, Witzleben was called back to Germany and retired.

    Witzleben spent the next two years at his country estate. He kept in touch with anti-Nazis and, in 1944, became involved in the July plot. After Claus von Stauffenberg planted the bomb, the conspirators thought that Hitler had been killed, and Witzleben was installed as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Erich Hoepner as Commander of the Home Army. Arriving late at the Bendlerstrasse, Witzleben was shocked to find the coup unraveling and, after a blazing row with Beck and Stauffenberg, he retired to his aid Graf zu Lynar's home to wait the arrival of the hangman.

    On July 21, 1944, Witzleben was arrested and during his trial he was humiliated by being forced to appear in court without his belt and false teeth. Von Witzleben's closing words in court, addressed to Freisler, were: "You can hand us over to the hangman. In three months, the disgusted and harried people will bring you to book and drag you alive through the dirt in the streets!" On August 8, 1944, he was sentenced to death by the People's Court and hung two hours later in Berlin-Ploetzensee. His execution was filmed for Hitler's viewing pleasure.





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    Reverse of a blank restaurant check from the Kranzler Restaurant signed "Graf Helldorf." The Kranzler Restaurant and Confectionery was a branch of the legendary "Cafe Kranzler," Berlin's internationally famous cafe located under the lime trees at the corner of the Unter den Linden and the Freidrichstrasse. The Kranzler restaurant, located at 18/19 Kurfurstendamm, was established in 1932 and destroyed during the war.

    Wolf Heinrich, Graf von Helldorf was a significant player in the regime from the earliest years of Hitler's rule. After serving throughout Word War One, he joined the Freikorps and became involved in the right wing Kapp-putsch in 1920. He joined the SA in 1931 and rose through the ranks to become SA-Obergruppenfuhrer. He was elected to the Prussian Landtag in 1931 and the Reichstag in 1932. He became police president of Potsdam in 1933 and he was appointed police president of Berlin in 1935. Helldorf retained the latter title and position until it was withdrawn after his arrest on July 20, 1944.

    Helldorf was fiscally irresponsible and most likely corrupt. He had to be financially bailed out again and again by his party seniors, including Dr. Goebbels. He was personally charming and elegant in manner. Helldorf's place in history is unclear and there is still much controversy about his character and motivations. He appears to have been heavily involved in some of the more unsavoury events of the early days of the Nazi state. There is some evidence that he knew more about the Reichstag fire than he should have, although his son as stated that he was not personally involved. During the Night of the Long Knives purge of the SA in 1934, Helldorf was one of the few senior SA commanders to escape liquidation, possibly as a result of his informing on Rohm's movements and habits.

    Nothing better illustrates historians' differing views of Helldorf than their interpretations of his actions on Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938. Some say that Helldorf actively coached the rioters and organized the police non-response to the lawlessness that occurred. Others say that he did his best to protect selected victims, either for moral reasons or more likely as part of a protection racket. Another view is that Helldorf was outraged at the breakdown in the rule of law under his watch, although this may have been a case of crocodile tears being shed for public consumption. "From the beginning Graf von Helldorf had reservations about the National Socialist regime. He was absent from Berlin on Kristallnacht, but on his return he called a conference of police officers and berated them for their passivity during the riots against the Jews. To the dismay of his listeners he stated that had he been present he would have ordered his men to shoot all rioters and looters."

    As police president of Berlin, Helldorf was also heavily involved in the Blomberg-Fritsch affair, a circumstance that played a large role in turning many officers against Hitler. Helldorf was able to access police reports and ascertain the nature of the Nazi conspiracy against these high ranking army officers. It is likely that he leaked the information to Beck and others. Despite this service and involvement in various coup plans from as early as 1938, Helldorf's involvement in the early illegalities of the Nazi rise to power meant that he was never fully trusted or approved of by many of the conspirators. But as police president of Berlin, Helldorf was a critical cog in the wheel and no successful coup could proceed in the capital without him.

    In the 1938 coup plan, Helldorf was to provide the conspirators with a list of the various SS stations scattered across the capital and camouflaged, in many case as private homes. Helldorf also agreed to place his police officers at Halder's disposal to assist the army in arresting former members of the regime and in keeping public order during and following the coup. In later plots, including that of July 20, 1944, Helldorf's planned involvement was to be essentially the same. In the event the bomb plot, police participation was minimal, as orders did not reach the waiting Helldorf in time.

    Arrested as a key plotter on July 20, 1944, Wolf Graf von Helldorf was brought before Dr. Freisler's People's Court on August 15, 1944. Convicted of high treason, he was executed within hours on that same day. On Hitler's personal orders he was treated with extra harshness and was hung last, after being forced to watch the executions of the others convicted with him. As a final insult, the name of Wolf Heinrich Graf von Helldorf is generally omitted from the official roll of those who gave their lives to rid Germany of Hitler's regime.





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    Postcard with Christmas greetings signed by Ulrich von Sell and dated December 26, 1941. Like many other members of the resistance movement, Ulrich Freiherr von Sell was born into an aristocratic family with a long tradition of military service. His early service included a pre-World War I assignment as adjutant to Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg. He served as a general staff officer during the war years. After Kaiser Wilhelm's abdication, Sell accompanied the former Emperor on his exile in Holland. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Sell recommended that the Kaiser not have any significant dealings with him.

    Sell was married to Augusta von Brauchitsch with whom he had a daughter and a son. In 1937, Sell acted as a character witness for Martin Niemoeller at his trial. Niemoeller was the pastor of the von Sell family's Lutheran church. His public attacks on the Nazi regime gave him such international stature that Hitler was reluctant to have him executed. Instead he was arrested and interned in KZs Sachsenhausen and Dachau during the war.

    Sell's family was anti-Nazi. Refusing to join the Hitler Youth, Sell's daughter Sibylle was not allowed to complete high school. After the war, she renewed Martin Niemoeller's acquaintance in the U.S. and subsequently married him. The Sell family was actively engaged in both hiding Jews and passing them on via Berlin's "underground railroad." Sibylle was cousin to Hans Bernd and Werner von Haeften, both of whom were executed for complicity in the July plot. Werner von Haeften was Stauffenberg's aide de camp who on 20 July carried the briefcase with the bombs that were to have killed Hitler.

    In the Second World War, Ulrich von Sell was mobilized with a rank of Oberstleutnant and he served in Canaris' Abwehr through the war. He took part in various discussions in the Bendlerstrasse. For the July plot, Claus von Stauffenberg designated Sell as liaison officer in military district IX (Kassel).

    On July 23rd, Sell was arrested by the Gestapo after lists of the various liaison officers to the Wehrkreis headquarters were found in the Bendlerstrasse teleprinter room. He was interrogated throughout 1944 and 1945. On March 30th, 1945, von Sell was released from the Lehrterstrasse prison, luckily avoiding the last minute massacres that were carried out there by the SS.

    On May 7, 1945, Sell's luck ran out when was ironically arrested after he intervened to defend a former colleague wrongly suspected of National Socialist activities. The Soviet secret service (NKVD) deported him to Jamlitz Internment Camp, where he died of malnutrition on November 12, 1945. The Soviets, fearing that the Western Allies might discover the camp, ploughed it under and Sell simply vanished - much as would happen with Raoul Wallenberg.

    Additional note -

    Last year I had the pleasure of hearing Sell's daugther Sybille, widow of Niemoeller, cousin to the von Haeften brothers, speak of over an hour on what it was like to grow up in a house that resisted Hitler. Magnificent lady!




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    Colonel-General Erich Hoepner was born on September 14th 1886. He joined the German Army and fought in World War One. After the war, Hoepner served in a number of staff posts and he remained in the army after the war ended.

    Hoepner had been dismayed by the futile tactics used in the war when millions of men had been slaughtered on the alter of trench warfare. He developed a keen interest in mobile warfare and in particular the use of tanks. By 1938, he had been promoted to major general and was the commander of the 1 Light Division, which included within its ranks a young Claus von Stauffenberg, as a junior staff officer.

    Even before World War Two started, Hoepner was involved in anti-Hitler plotting. Hitler was held in low regard by many senior army generals and they wanted to use Hoepner's command to stop any movement by the SS once the army had arrested Hitler in a coup led by General Ludwig Beck. Beck's plot came to nothing and the Nazis suspected nothing.

    In 1939, Hoepner was promoted to Lieutenant General and given the command of XVI Corps. This unit was used in the occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and in the attack on Poland in September 1939. By the time of the attack on France in 1940, XVI Corps had become XVI Panzer Corps. During 'Operation Barbarossa,' Hoepner was given command of the 4 Panzergruppe. This unit played a major part in the initial successes of the German attack, which led to the German Army getting to within 20 miles of the centre of Moscow.

    When the Germans failed to capture Moscow, Hoepner wanted to start a tactical withdrawal of his men who were clearly suffering from the onset of the Russian winter. Once they had recuperated, Hoepner believed that they would have been in a far better position to attack Moscow once again. Hitler could not begin to contemplate such a move especially as he had stated to his generals that Moscow was "merely a geographical concept". Hitler dishonourably discharged Hoepner from the army and forbade him to wear his uniform in public.

    Freed from his command, Hoepner continued with his work against Hitler. He was involved in the July plot. Hoepner was designated to take over command of the home forces, should General Fromm prove unreliable, and was also considered for the post of Minister of War in a new provisional government. After the failed assassination attempt on Hitler he was arrested in the Bendlerstrasse on the night of July 20. Fromm offered him the opportunity, like Beck, to shoot himself but Hoepner declined claiming that he was not such a swine that he should have to shoot himself. He could have been under no illusions about his fate but it is likely that Hoepner wanted to face court martial and explain his motivations. Its unlikely he was prepared for Freisler's Peoples' Court and for the humiliations he would face there including being forced to appear in slippers and an old, ill fitting cardigan. On August 8, after a 2-day 'trial' he was sentenced to death by hanging. Much of what we know about the events in the Bendler on July 20 comes from Hoepner's testimony.




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    Post-war typed letter signed by Hans (Johnnie) von Herwarth-Bittenfeld, to an American autograph collector, declining to send a signed photo but instead providing his signature.

    Hans von Herwarth played a small but important part in the German resistance movement from as early as 1938. Herwarth was a reserve army officer and mid-level diplomat at Germany's Moscow legation during the run up to the second world war. He worked closely with each of the ambassadors during his tenure there, including resister Werner Graf von der Schulenburg. He was liked by, and maintained friendly contacts with many of his peers in various western embassies. Early foreign office resisters, such as Schulenburg and the Kordt brothers, prevailed on Herwarth to assist with the aborted 1938 plot by passing messages to his Anglo-French contacts that encouraged them to take a firmer stand over the Czechoslovakia issue.

    After Herwarth was forced out of the diplomatic service for lack of racial "purity" and insufficient National Socialist enthusiasm, he rejoined the army and was posted to the Russian front where, in 1942, his incisive knowledge of Russian affairs earned him a secondment to the General Staff - within the OKH's organisation branch. Here he met for the first time his wife's cousin, Claus von Stauffenberg. He worked extensively with Stauffenberg in recruiting Russian defectors into the ranks of the Wehrmacht. It was Herwarth who first informed Stauffenberg about atrocities against Jews in Russia.

    The plain-speaking Herwarth came to know of the military resistance when he was recruited by Joachim Kuhn on Stauffenberg's specific instructions. He helped revise the Operation Valkyrie plans to meet the conspirators' coup needs. Herwarth's most blatant involvement came when Oberst Stieff, custodian of the conspirators' bomb at OKH headquarters at Mauerwald, went on leave in October 1943. The bomb was disassembled and distributed to various steady individuals serving within the headquarters for safekeeping until Stieff's return. Herwarth drew the unenviable task of nurse maiding the bomb's plastic explosive, which he unimaginatively, and probably sleeplessly kept under his bed.

    After the July 20 plot went awry, Herwarth was one of the few to avoid arrest. Those who knew of his involvement heroically withstood Gestapo torture and remained silent. After the war, Herwarth served as the first West German Ambassador to the Court of Saint James in London.



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    In September 1905, Erich Fellgiebel joined a signal battalion in the Prussian army as an officer cadet.. During WWI, he was on the General Staff. After the war, he stayed with the Reichswehr as a General Staff Officer, being promoted to Major in 1928, Oberstleutnant in 1933, and Oberst in 1938. Fellgiebel became Generalmajor in 1938. That same year, he was also appointed Chief of the Army's Signal Establishment and Chief of the Wehrmacht's communications liaison to the OKW. He was promoted to General der Nachrictentruppen in 1940. There is some indication that did not fully trust but his expertise was needed. Notwithstanding these doubts, as head of Hitler's Signal services, Fellgiebel was trusted with the command of the entire Reich military communication system, a technically complex role and one that would provide key information and opportunities to the plotters.

    His former superior Generaloberst Ludwig Beck and Beck's successor Generaloberst Franz Halder brought Fellgiebel into contact with the military resistance circles. He was a key figure in the preparations for Operation "Valkyrie." Fellgiebel was significantly involved in the preparations for Operation Valkyrie and on the day of the actual attempt on the Fuehrer's life, His job was to get the word out to Berlin that the attempt was successful and then shut off communications, thus isolating Wolfschanze from the rest of the Reich, aiding in the coup's chances of success. He was seen meeting with Stauffenberg immediately prior to the attempt. Perhaps Fellgiebel's most famous act that day was his telephone call to his subordinate Oberst Hahn in Mauerwald that the attempt had been made but that it was not successful. Fellgiebel made another call to Berlin to say "Etwas Schreckliches ist passiert! Der Fuehrer lebt!" ("Something awful has happened! The Fuehrer lives!"). The call was garbled and was not clearly understood before communications were cut. Fellgiebel quickly realised that they were committed and that his personal meetings with Stauffenberg would quickly brand him as a traitor. Their only hope lay in a successful coup and a complete shut down of communications was the only way to achieve that. Unfortunately, Hitler's paranoia had led to a communications system that was impossible to shut down completely. The block was only temporary and was already coming down when Fromm and Remer independently called Wolfschanze.

    Late on July 20, Fellgiebel was ordered to report to Wolfschanze from the nearby OKH HQ at Mauerwald, were he had retreated following the attempt. On being offered a pistol by an aid, Fellgiebel responded "One stands, one does not do that." His final words to his aid were "If I believed in another world, I would say Auf Wiedersehen." Fellgiebel's driver returned to Mauerwald in tears.

    Hoffmann makes a special note that it is clear that Fellgiebel withstood Gestapo interrogation for an extraordinarily long time. Its seems clear that he protected many conspirators in the communications branch and many guilty officers escaped detection and arrest. Fellgiebel was tried before the Volksgerichtshof on August 10, 1944 but was not executed until September 4, leaving extra time for additional torture.

    The Bundeswehr barracks in Poecking-Maxhof is named the General-Fellgiebel-Kaserne in his honour. Fellgiebel's portrayal in recent films, as a drunk in 2004's German film Stauffenberg and as a railroaded participant in the plot in 2008's Valkyrie do not pay an appropriate tribute to a very brave man who had the unenviable job of staying behind and facing the music while keeping communications cut after Stauffenberg had made his exit.



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    Nina von Stauffenberg's obit from the Telegraph

    Countess von Stauffenberg

    Nina Countess Schenk von Stauffenberg, who died on Sunday aged 92, was the widow of the German officer who attempted to assassinate Hitler with a bomb in July 1944; along with her husband's co-conspirators, she bore the brunt of the Fuehrer's thirst for revenge in the weeks after the attack.

    She was born Elisabeth Magdalena, Baroness von Lerchenfeld, in Kaunas, then in Russia but now in Lithuania, on August 27 1913. Her father was a diplomat and courtier, her mother a German-speaking Balt.

    She met Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg when she was just 16 and still at boarding school near Heidelberg. Like him, her family was of the Bavarian nobility, although his was Roman Catholic and rather more distinguished, numbering the Prussian Field Marshal August von Gneisenau among its forebears. He was also six years her elder.

    They became engaged on his birthday in 1930, and married in 1933. Stauffenberg was noted among his peers for his dashing good looks and unorthodox opinions, but though he was later to be romanticised by admirers of the German resistance movement, as a young man much of his character was decidedly conventional. He had already chosen the army as his career, and went to his wedding in uniform, since he believed that to marry was another of his duties. He also, as one proud to be German, initially welcomed Hitler's rise to power.

    By 1940, however, when he and Nina had had three sons and a daughter, his attitudes had changed markedly, influenced in particular by Hitler's oppression of the Church. From the autumn of 1943 onwards, when he was recuperating in Germany after losing seven fingers and an eye in a strafing attack in North Africa, he became determined to kill the Fuehrer, and his dynamism animated a circle of like-minded officers, aristocrats and officials which had hitherto offered only passive opposition to the regime. His elder brother, Berthold, joined the conspiracy, but Nina Stauffenberg knew nothing of their plans.

    On July 20 1944 Colonel Count Stauffenberg carried a bomb concealed in a briefcase into the briefing room of the Wolf's Lair, Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia. Another officer moved it, so that it rested next to the massive wooden leg of the conference table and, when it exploded, soon after Stauffenberg had left the room, Hitler was largely shielded from the blast and suffered only ruptured eardrums. Stauffenberg and the other plotters believed for a time that they had been successful, but by that evening most of them had been rounded up. Stauffenberg was shot almost immediately in the courtyard of army headquarters in Berlin.

    Himmler, as security supremo, directed that all of Stauffenberg's relatives, from his infant children to distant cousins, should be arrested and their property confiscated. Berthold Stauffenberg was hanged a few weeks later, while Nina Stauffenberg, who was heavily pregnant, was interrogated and imprisoned in Berlin. While there she comforted the wife of Ernst Thalmann, the Communist leader, who had just learned that her husband had been executed. The Countess was then sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, as was her mother, who subsequently perished in another camp run by the advancing Russians. The four Stauffenberg children, of whom the eldest was aged 10, were placed in a state orphanage in Thuringia and given a new surname, Meister. In January 1945 Nina Stauffenberg gave birth in a Nazi maternity home to her husband's posthumous daughter, Konstanze.

    The separated family were much helped by the efforts of her sister-in-law, Melitta, the wife of Berthold's twin brother, Alexander, who had also been interned. Although she was a Polish Jew, Melitta had some influence with government officials because of her work on the design of dive-bombers. Towards the end of the war, however, she was fatally wounded when her aircraft was hit as she was returning from a visit to her nephews and niece. By the war's end, the Countess was being held as a hostage in southern Germany. Although her guards had orders to kill her, she was eventually liberated by Allied troops and reunited with her children. Thereafter, she devoted herself to promoting understanding between Germans and the occupying American forces.

    In the last few decades, German knowledge of the homegrown resistance to the Nazis has become much more widespread, with Stauffenberg coming to occupy a central place in that understanding. The Bendlerblock, the HQ where he was executed, now houses the national museum of resistance, and the street on which it stands has been renamed for him.

    Like some of those involved in the plot, Nina Stauffenberg was of the view that the heroic failure of the plan resonated more down the years than a successful coup might have done. "On the whole," she once said, "what happened was probably best for the cause."

    She is survived by her five children; her eldest son, Berthold, is a former general in the German army.



    Edited by ColinRF
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    This 1929 Heinrich Hoffmann photograph of a dinner attended by Bavarian royalty and senior officers of the WWI Bavarian cavalry regiments was hosted by the 17. Reiter Regiment, Reichswehr custodian of the Bavarian cavalry battle honours and history. Affixed to the back is a sheet signed by 39 individuals, primarily members of the old 1. Bayerisches Schweres Reiter Regiment, a unit commanded by Claus von Stauffenberg's Uncle Berthold in WWI.

    The photo was the personal souvenir of Claus Von Staufenberg. Both the photo and the reverse of the attached sheet are stamped with his personal stamp (see top right corner). I purchased this document in Germany about 1 month after the 2006 passing of Stauffenberg's widow Nina.

    The rear of the photo is signed by Claus von Stauffenberg, his Uncle Berthold and 4 other individuals who played a major role in the German resistance. It is likely that this is the only document in existence signed by Stauffenberg and other bomb plot-implicated friends from 17. Reiter. These were old friends that he turned to as trusted allies when he attempted his coup against Hitler. Documents signed by Claus von Stauffenberg are very rare in any case, as his biographer Kramarz noted. This is because most of his personal correspondence was confiscated by the Gestapo after July 20. Much of the material is presumed lost.

    In Dorothy von Medding's fine book on the women of the July 20 plot, "Courageous Hearts," Nina von Stauffenberg observed that she had no letters signed by Claus as he was not a very good correspondent. "After July 20 our house in Bamberg was completely emptied. Who knows what happened to the things; anyway I never got anything back." Military correspondence signed by Stauffenberg appears on the market from time-to-time, but I have never seen another private document on offer.

    The other resistance-related signers on the document include Ludwig Freiherr von Leonrod, Rudolf Graf von Marogna-Redwitz, Joseph Ernst Fuerst Fugger von Gloett, and Franz von Redwitz. Leonrod and Marogna-Redwitz were both executed for their respective roles in the July 20, 1944 bomb plot. Fugger was tried with fellow Kreisau Circle member Helmuth James von Moltke in front of the Volksgerichtshof, where he received a 7-year sentence. Each will be profiled separately below. The document was signed by Stauffenberg's Uncle Berthold, an elderly gentleman who died in Gestapo custody after his arrest under Himmler's Sippenhaft (or family responsibility) doctrine.

    Finally, the rear of the photo is signed, perhaps ironically, by Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley, a right wing aristocrat with Jewish blood who tried to impress the right wing Thule Society, which had blackballed him for membership, by assassinating Bavarian PM Kurt Eisner. Eisner was a Marxist Jew who was shot down in the street by Graf von Arco in 1919. Von Arco was sentenced to death but paroled early given the anti-communist atmosphere then in ascension. Thus we have the signature of the assassin of a German head of state on the same document as that of an attempted assassin of another.

    For a more complete listing of the signers of the document. see the string at: http://gmic.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=34254

    I won't add a bio of Claus von Stauffenberg here as there are many good short bios freely available on the internet.


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    Ludwig Freiherr von Leonrod (September 17, 1906 - August 26, 1944) was the eldest child of Wilhelm Freiherr von Leonrod and his wife Clara, a born Freiin of Sazenhofen. His father was a personal aide of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and was Colonel Equerry in 1912 and Colonel Hofmeister in1915. After graduating from high school in 1926, Leonrod chose, according to a family tradition, to follow the profession army officer. He joined the 17. Or Bayerische Reiter Regiment, where he met Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. In 1933, Leonrod was promoted Lieutenant and in 1937 he was promoted to Captain. In 1941, now a Major and commander reconnaissance unit, Leonrod received the Iron Cross. He was seriously wounded by a mine in early 1942 and was in consequence transferred to the Munich Wehrkreis. In 1943 he married Monika Freiin of Twickel.

    In the autumn of 1943 Stauffenberg was actively recruiting for assistants to act as political and military liaison officers at various Wehrkreis commands once Operation Valkyrie had been put in motion. Not surprisingly he looked to his old friends von Leonrod and von Marogna-Redwitz from his 17 Reiter days. In December 1943 Stauffenberg approached Leonrod with his plan. Leonrod responded that he would like to assist but as a devout Catholic could not as his conscience would not allow him to commit murder. December 1943, Leonrod sought guidance in a pastoral conversation with Kaplan Hermann Josef Wehrle, asking whether it was a sin to even have knowledge of the preparation of an assassination plan and say nothing. Wehrle said that it was not after consulting his theological texts on the moral question of tyrannicide.

    Although he reportedly turned down the request to serve as a liaison to the Munich Wehrkries, Leonrod's name does appear on the roster of such officers found by the Gestapo in the Bendlerstrasse signals centre on July 20. That in itself was probably a death sentence. Leonrod was serving with the Armoured officers school at Krampnitz on July 20. On July 19, he was one of the dependable officers asked to quietly report to the Bendler for special duty on July 20. It is doubtful that he did not suspect what this meant. During the drama late in the day on July 20, Leonrod was given the job of guarding the arrested Genealoberst Friedrich Fromm. He was arrested on July 21 so evidently he managed to slip out of the building temporarily and return to Krampnitz.

    In August 1944, he was formally expelled from the army by a board of officers led by GF Gerd von Rundstedt. No evidence was tabled and no defence permitted. This cleared the way for his trial before the Volksgerichtshof or Peoples' Court. This was clearly illegal as the offense had occurred while Leonrod was a serving Heer officer. In my view, Rundstedt forever tainted his legacy by associating himself with this travesty of justice.

    Leonrod was tried before the Volksgerichtshof on 21 August was sentenced to death. The execution of the sentence was deferred unitl Chaplain Wehrle could also be brought before the court. Leonrod made the mistake of admitting that he had sought spiritual guidance from Wehrle and he too was convicted of treason and condemned to death, Leonrod was hanged at Ploetzensee on August 26. Wehrle was similarly hanged on September 14, 1944.

    In Bamberg Cathedral, there is a recently installed plaque naming the five former members of 17. Reiter Regiment who gave their lives in the fight against the Nazi regime (See picture below under Marogna-Redwitz). Ludwig Freiherr von Leonrod is included in this group.

    Below - Leonrod's signature from the Stauffenberg document, and photos of Leonrod and Wehrle.





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    Rudolf Graf von Marogna-Redwitz (August 15, 1886 - October 12, 1944) completed his training as a career officer and served in 1. Bayerisches Schweres Reiter Regiment in WWI. He was related to the Stauffenberg family. He was badly wounded in WWI in 1917 and afterwards worked in "Abteilung III der Deutschen Obersten Heeresleitung." His function was to work on defence problems.

    Post-war, he continued to work in a military counterintelligence role in an undercover company namend "Deutscher Oeberseedienst." He was married to Anna Graefin von Arco-Zinneberg, which whom he had a daughter and two sons. After leaving the Reichswehr, in 1935 he was rejoined the armed forces as "E-Offizier" (Erguenzungsoffizier) in the Wehrmacht. at the invitation of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. He was assigned to Vienna in 1938 as chief of the local Abwehr or counterintelligence office. In this role he was heavily involved in the Anschluss. It was in Vienna (Wehrkreis XVII) that Marogna-Redwitz befriended Lieutenant Colonel Werner Schrader. He used his position to support persecuted opponents of National Socialism and to aid Jews.

    In 1942 Marogna-Redwitz was admitted as a regular officer in the Wehrmacht with his rank seniority as Colonel dating from 1939.

    In keeping with family traditions, both of Marogna-Redwitz's sons were cavalry officers and both fell in Russia during the war. Rudolf Graf von Marogna-Redwitz, born Munich 1914,was killed at Kursk in 1942 and Hubert Graf von Marogna-Redwitz, born Munich 1919, was killed at Karkow in 1942.

    After Admiral Canaris was removed from office, in the spring of 1944 Friedrich Olbricht requested Marogna-Redwitz's transfer for assignment in the Army High Command in Berlin. While serving there and working on Valkyrie, Marogna-Redwitz offered his services to the conspirators as the liaison officer for military district XVII (Vienna). He served in this capacity on the day of the coup attempt on July 20, 1944.

    Next to Paris and Berlin, the greatest progress in fully implementing Valkyrie was made in Vienna. Marogna-Redwitz succeeded in establishing contact with the political commissioners Karl Seitz and Josef Reither. But like Paris, the coup unwound when it became clear that Hitler was not dead.

    He was arrested by the Gestapo in his apartment in Vienna, 21.7.1944. Marogna-Redwitz was tried individually before the Peoples' Court. The photographs taken of him inside the courtroom provide graphic evidence that he was subjected to what the Gestapo termed "intensive interrogation." He was sentenced to death by the People's Court on October 12, 1944 and murdered the same day in Berlin-Ploetzensee.





    Edited by ColinRF
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    I just found my new favorite thread! Thank you so much for taking the time to post your collection. And thank you for the biographical pieces as well. A wealth of material here. Thank you again for sharing these with us, my friend.


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