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 due to the death camps and the Holocaust.
In 1953, a monument was erected in the courtyard of the Bendlerblock. It is dedicated to the men who lost their lives during the coup of 20 July 1944. In 1960, a plaque was added. It reads: “Here died for Germany on 20 July 1944 Generaloberst Ludwig Beck – General der Infanterie Friedrich Olbricht – Oberst Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg – Oberst Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim – Oberleutnant Werner von Haeften.”
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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 a 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 the 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.
Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim
Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, 25 March 1905 – 21 July 1944, was a German Army colonel and a resistance fighter in Nazi Germany involved in the 20 July plot against Adolf Hitler.
Other Resistance Members
Friedrich Gustav Jaeger
Friedrich Gustav Jaeger, 25 September 1895 – 21 August 1944, was a highly decorated Oberst in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. He was a resistance fighter in Nazi Germany and a member of the 20 July Plot.
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel, 15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944, popularly known as the Desert Fox (Wüstenfuchs), was a German Field Marshal of World War II.
He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought. He was a highly decorated officer in World War I and was awarded the Pour le Mérite for his exploits on the Italian front. In World War II, he further distinguished himself as the commander of the 7th Panzer Division during the 1940 invasion of France. However, it was his leadership of German and Italian forces in the North African campaign that established the legend of the Desert Fox. He is considered to have been one of the most skilled commanders of desert warfare in the conflict. He later commanded the German forces opposing the Allied cross-channel invasion in Normandy.
As one of the few generals who consistently fought the Western Allies (he was never assigned to the Eastern Front), Rommel is regarded as having been a humane and professional officer. His Afrikakorps was never accused of war crimes. Soldiers captured during his Africa campaign were reported to have been treated humanely. Furthermore, he ignored orders to kill captured commandos, Jewish soldiers and civilians in all theaters of his command. Late in the war, Rommel was linked to the conspiracy to kill Adolf Hitler. Because Rommel was widely renowned, Hitler chose to eliminate him quietly; in trade for assurances his family would be spared, Rommel agreed to commit suicide. Rommel was given a state funeral, and it was announced that he had succumbed to his injuries from the strafing of his staff car in Normandy. The German Army’s largest military base, the Field Marshal Rommel Barracks, Augustdorf, is named in his honor.
Caesar von Hofacker
Caesar von Hofacker (sometimes written Cäsar), 2 March 1896 – 20 December 1944, was a German Luftwaffe Lieutenant Colonel and member of the 20 July plot against Adolf Hitler.
Helmuth James von Moltke
Helmuth James von Moltke, 11 March 1907 – 23 January 1945, was a German jurist who, as a draftee in the German Abwehr, acted to subvert German human-rights abuses of people in territories occupied by Germany during World War II and subsequently became a founding member of the Kreisau Circle opposition group, whose members opposed the government of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. He participated in their discussions about the prospects for a Germany based on moral and democratic principles after Hitler. The Nazi government executed von Moltke for treason for his participation in these discussions.
Moltke was the great-grandnephew of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, the victorious commander in the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian Wars, from whom he inherited the Kreisau Estate in Prussian Silesia, now Krzyżowa in Poland, and the grandnephew of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger.
Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel
Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel, 2 January 1886 – 30 August 1944, was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II who was an army level commander. While serving as military commander of German-occupied France and as commander of the 17th Army in the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, Stülpnagel was implicated in war crimes, including authorizing reprisal operations against the civilian population.
He was a member of the 20 July Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, being in charge of conspirators’ actions in France. After the failure of the plot, he was recalled to Berlin and attempted to commit suicide en route, but failed. Tried on 30 August 1944, he was convicted of treason and executed on the same day.
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.
Josef Wirmer, 19 March 1901 – 8 September 1944, was a German jurist and resistance fighter against the Nazi régime.
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