These are the heroes of the German Resistance against the Nazi German Reich. While we find many heroes that served the Reich, we also uphold these brave men who resisted Hitler’s version of Germany. These men supported continuing the war against Communism and would have shut down the death camps. While there are many heroes in the Third Reich, Hitler’s group placed great shame on Germany and the SS due to the death camps and the Holocaust.
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Claus von Stauffenberg
Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (15 November 1907 – 21 July 1944) was a German army officer and member of the German nobility who was one of the leading members of the failed 20 July plot of 1944 to assassinate Adolf Hitler and remove the Nazi Party from power. Along with Henning von Tresckow and Hans Oster, he was one of the central figures of the German Resistance movement within the Wehrmacht. For his involvement in the movement, he was executed by firing squad shortly after the failed attempt known as Operation Valkyrie.
Ludwig August Theodor Beck (29 June 1880 – 21 July 1944) was a German general and Chief of the German General Staff during the early years of the Nazi regime in Germany before World War II. Ludwig Beck was never a member of the Nazi Party, though in the early 1930s he supported Adolf Hitler’s forceful denunciation of the Versailles Treaty and belief in the need for Germany to rearm. Beck had grave misgivings regarding the Nazi demand that all German officers swear an oath of fealty to the person of Hitler in 1934, though he believed that Germany needed strong government and that Hitler could successfully provide this so long as he was influenced by traditional elements within the military rather than the SA and SS.
In serving as Chief of Staff of the German Army between 1935 and 1938, Beck became increasingly disillusioned, standing in opposition to the increasing totalitarianism of the Nazi regime and Hitler’s aggressive foreign policy. It was due to public foreign policy disagreements with Hitler that Beck resigned as Chief of Staff in August 1938. From this point, Beck came to believe that Hitler could not be influenced for good, and that both Hitler and the Nazi party needed to be removed from government. He became a major leader within the conspiracy against Hitler, and would have been provisional head of state had the 20 July plot succeeded, but when the plot failed, Beck was arrested. Reportedly he made an unsuccessful attempt at suicide, and was then shot dead.
Friedrich Olbricht (4 October 1888 – 21 July 1944) was a German general during World War II and one of the plotters involved in the 20 July Plot, an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944.
Starting in the winter of 1941–42, Olbricht developed the plan for Operation Valkyrie, a General Staff plan which was ostensibly to be used to put down internal unrest, but was in fact a blueprint for a coup d’état. Together with the resistance circles around Colonel-General Ludwig Beck, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler and Major-General Henning von Tresckow, he worked to find a means of assassinating Adolf Hitler and using the coup plan to bring down the Nazi regime. In 1943, he asked that Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg come to work at his office; Stauffenberg would later be the key man in the assassination attempt, with the job of actually planting the bomb near Hitler.
On the day of the attempted coup d’état, 20 July 1944, Olbricht and Colonel Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim initiated Operation Valkyrie by mobilizing the Replacement Army (Ersatzheer). It eventually became clear that Stauffenberg’s briefcase bomb had failed to kill Hitler, however, and so the plan to seize key sites in Berlin using units from the reserve army began to falter. Many consider one of the overwhelming factors which prevented this coup from gathering any real pace was the failure of troops on the ground to gain control of the communications coming into and out of Berlin; Adolf Hitler and his commanders in the Wolfsschanze were able to broadcast a speech after the coup which in turn led to quick demise of the coup as a whole. As a result, the Nazi leadership was able to regain control using its own loyal troops within a few hours.
Werner von Haeften
Werner Karl von Haeften 9 October 1908 – 21 July 1944, was an Oberleutnant in the Wehrmacht, who took part in the military-based conspiracy against Adolf Hitler known as the 20 July plot. He is considered a hero of the German anti-Nazi resistance.
In 1943, having recovered from a severe wound he had suffered on the Eastern Front, Haeften became adjutant to Oberst Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, one of the leading figures in the German Resistance.
On 20 July 1944, Haeften accompanied Stauffenberg to the military high command of the Wehrmacht near Rastenburg, East Prussia (now Kętrzyn, in Poland), where Stauffenberg planted a briefcase bomb in a conference room at Hitler’s Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) headquarters. After the detonation, Stauffenberg and Haeften rushed to Berlin and, not knowing that Hitler had survived the explosion, attempted to launch the long-planned coup d’état, which would swiftly fail.
On the same day, Haeften, along with Stauffenberg and fellow conspirators General Friedrich Olbricht and Oberst Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, was arrested after a summary court martial and sentenced to death by General Friedrich Fromm, who was himself later arrested and executed by the Nazi regime for his tacit complicity. All four plotters were shot after midnight by a ten-man firing squad from the Grossdeutschland Guards Battalion in the courtyard of the War Ministry, the Bendlerblock. When Stauffenberg was about to be shot, in a last gesture of loyalty and defiance, Haeften placed himself in the path of the bullets meant for Stauffenberg.
Haeften’s brother Hans Bernd von Haeften, who had also been involved in the anti-Hitler plot, was executed on 15 August at Plötzensee Prison.
Erwin von Witzleben
Job Wilhelm Georg Erdmann Erwin von Witzleben (4 December 1881 – 8 August 1944) was a German officer, by 1940 in the rank of Generalfeldmarschall (General Field Marshal), and army commander in the Second World War. A leading conspirator in the 20 July plot, he was designated to become Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht in a post-Nazi regime had the plot succeeded.