78th Anniversary – Colonel von Stauffenberg Planted Bomb at Hitler’s Feet

July 20, 2022

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VALKYRIE AGAIN
By Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg

My adjutant was scrambling through his briefcase as I dug in mine. Gripping special pliers with my thumb and two fingers, I squeezed and broke the acid capsule. That activated the bomb in my briefcase.

“I need more room,” I told Lieutenant von Haeften. “Help me get these papers out. Wait. Not all of them. I might need some. That’s right. Now, get that one out of yours.”

The door to the anteroom opened, and a major intruded: “Hurry up, please. Marshal Keitel doesn’t want to be late for the Fuehrer.”

“I’ll be there soon enough.”

The officious bastard insisted on gawking.

“Fine, Lieutenant von Haeften,” I said. “I’ve got all the pertinent documents. You keep the rest.”

The bomb in my briefcase was going to explode in less than ten minutes. The one in Haeften’s briefcase should have been in mine, too. I prayed one would be enough and walked outside.

“Marshal Keitel,” I said, “I’m sure the Fuehrer will be encouraged by the troops the Replacement Army can provide for the front.”

“Please make sure he is. And, as I said, be brief. The Fuehrer needs time to prepare for Mussolini this afternoon.”

Entering the briefing hut I walked to the telephone room and said to the sergeant: “I’m expecting an urgent call from Berlin. Please summon me immediately.”

Keitel led me into the conference room. Hitler’s back was to the door. He sat on a stool, slouching over a large wooden table covered with maps.

“Mein Fuehrer, this is Colonel von Stauffenberg, here to report on the Replacement Army,” said Keitel.

Hitler turned and saluted me, then said, “We’ll do that later. First I’ll hear the rest of Heusinger’s report.”

I asked an officer, who had carried my briefcase the final steps, to please make a place for me near the Fuehrer so I could hear everything. News from the Eastern Front was devastating, and General Heusinger explained the details honestly. He was an empathetic man, but we had not been able to warn him about today.

I tried to pry through everyone right up to the table. It was too crowded, so I picked up my briefcase and reached between Heusinger, who was immediately to Hitler’s right, and another officer, and placed it near the end of the table about six feet from Hitler. There couldn’t be more then five minutes left. On such a hot day, maybe less.

“I must make a call,” I told an officer. “It’s urgent.”

I eased out to the telephone room and put a phone to my ear. That was enough. I put the phone down and left the briefing hut and walked about two hundred yards over to the communications building where General Fellgiebel met me.

“You can do it?”

“As thoroughly as it can be,” he said.

“Completely?”

“No. There’re too many backups.”

We looked at the briefing hut. That’s where the problem was. It needed to be eliminated. Very soon now. Maybe in a minute. That’s all we needed. The whole world would benefit. I tried not to stare. I imagined the sound, a thunderous call for liberation. That it was, so loud it blew the building apart, so strong it exhilarated me. The enemy was dead.

Alarms roared into barking dogs and yelling men, and smoke curled into the sky. I got in the back seat of my car with Haeften and ordered the driver to get going. At the first checkpoint they’d already lowered the barrier. I bounced out and demanded to use the phone. After a quick conversation I hung up and announced: “Herr Lieutenant, I am allowed to pass.”

He raised the barrier. I had to get back. By now General Fellgiebel must have called our comrades in Berlin and started to isolate the Wolf’s Lair. Operation Valkyrie had begun. Freedom was imminent. The barrier at the next checkpoint was already raised. Only one more barrier now. It was down.

“Raise this at once,” I said.

“No,” said the sergeant major. “There’s a general alarm. No one is allowed to leave.”

I shot out the back seat into the guard hut. On the phone to the camp commandant’s aide I said, “General Fromm is waiting for me at the airfield. I must be allowed to pass.”

He agreed.

“There, Sergeant Major. You heard. Let me through.”

“I didn’t hear anything, Colonel.”

He made the call himself. Of course the result would be the same. The aide couldn’t have changed his mind so rapidly. He couldn’t have known anything yet. How could he? He told the sergeant major to let me go.

On the winding road we drove fast through a hot forest laden with mines and mosquitoes. By a quarter after one we were in our plane, flying to Berlin. I worried what was happening. There was no radio. I strained to feel the words of our broadcast. Hitler was dead. A new government was being proclaimed. The horrors were ending. All that I’d have to hear later. It was a long flight back to Berlin. We landed about a quarter after three. I phoned General Olbricht at the War Ministry.
“Everything is underway, General.”

“Not yet,” he said.

“General, you can’t have wasted almost three hours.”

“We’re not sure.”

“What?”

“Hitler might be alive.”

“I guarantee he’s dead. He can’t be alive. Start Operation Valkyrie at once.”

This is an excerpt from my biographical novel Hitler Here.

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for GeorgeThomasClark.com are read in more than 50 countries a month.

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