Sunday, 20 July 2014

A Day to Remember

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the attempt in 1944, by a group of Wehrmacht officers, to kill Hitler and bring an end to his horrific regime. They failed, and suffered horrifically at the hands of the Gestapo psychopaths as a result. Their children were taken into children's homes, their names changed and then brainwashed into denying their own families. Nor were they alone. The Gestapo used the attempt as an excuse to round up and kill hundreds of 'suspects', sympathisers, political opponents and other 'agitators'.

It is fascinating to see that today is marked by memorial services across Germany praising those who made the attempt, and suffered and died for it. As I type the entire Bundestag is gathered at Bendler-Block in Berlin where Colonel Claus Philipp Maria Schenk, Graf von Stauffenberg, and his co-conspirators was killed. They are being remembered for their brave attempt to bring a swift and complete end to the suffering of their nation and people at the hands of the Nazis. Ultimately over 20,000 Germans of all walks of life would die or be condemned to Concentration Camps, among them Erwin Rommel and several other high ranking officers.

The memorial in the Bendler-Block.

One can only speculate on how things would have gone had they succeeded, or if the senior Wehrmacht commanders (who, like Rommel, were implicated and suffered for it) had acted swiftly and decisively instead of hesitating. I suspect that at the very least thousands of lives would have been spared, thousands of women would not have been raped and murdered, and we might even have seen more of Hitler's henchmen and supporters apprehended and punished for their crimes.

I suspect that, like me, most of those from outside Germany know only a tiny fraction of this attempt to depose the monster, and have even less idea how many Germans died as a result of its failure. Stauffenberg himself died by firing squad, but others died suspended from a meat hook, others were shot, gassed or hung. Col. von Stauffenberg's brother, Berthold, was strangled with a garrotte, revived and 'killed' again and again, all of it filmed for Hitler's viewing pleasure.

Perhaps we should all take time out to remember those within Germany who gave their lives and risked everything to work against the Nazis. Their story is all too often ignored.

1 comment:

  1. Slim Jim responds:

    Indeed we should remember the bravery of the plotters. Hitler had taken in so many Germans, but there were some brave souls who wanted to stop him. Von Stauffenberg was one of the 'lucky' ones, being shot immediately. I recall reading in William L. Shirer's 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich', his account of how some of the conspirators were led into a school gymnasium and hung by piano wire from butcher's hooks. Naked. The event being filmed for Hitler. He enjoyed watching films, but this? It doesn't bear thinking about. May they rest in peace.