Assassination Attempts: Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Nazi Germany Part 1

About the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Nazi Germany, a history of other attempts and biography of Hitler.

The Victim: ADOLF HITLER, Chancellor of Nazi Germany.

The Date: July 20, 1944.

The Event: For several years a large-scale conspiracy within the German Army had been trying to eliminate the Fuhrer. Time bombs were placed in his plane, but they failed to explode. Three young officers, who were modeling the latest in Nazi uniforms, volunteered to carry bombs under their coats and blow themselves up in Hitler's presence. Hitler, however, departed before the bombs were set to go off. A similar plan to hide time bombs in new military packs was developed, but this, too, failed. A conspirator once showed up at a high-level conference with a bomb in his briefcase--Hitler failed to appear. Yet another suicidal attempt involved a scheme to kill the Fuhrer in an art gallery; again, he left early and the bomb carrier hastily departed.

Adolf Hitler was not an easy target. He expected that attempts on his life would be made and took brilliant precautionary measures. During his later years, Hitler stayed out of sight as much as possible, hiding in remote fortress-headquarters. He released his traveling plans to the fewest possible functionaries, and nearly always altered them at the last minute. He arrived early, departed early, and was, as Robert Payne puts it in his biography, "rarely where people expected him to be." Hitler suspected the Army of plotting against him since the Army was the only major sector of the power structure that was not created and controlled by the Nazis themselves. The Fuhrer constantly shifted high officers from one command to another so they would have little time to formulate any conspiracy plans. The Chancellor surrounded himself with tall sharpshooters. He wore a bulletproof vest and had 3 1/2 1bs. of steel-plate lining under his military cap. He was a skilled marksman and always carried a revolver. Finally, the Fuhrer possessed a special sense that warned him of impending danger and also claimed to be protected by Divine Providence.

The conspiracy to kill Hitler culminated on July 20, 1944, with a planned assassination to be followed by a vaguely coordinated coup d'etat. By this time the Normandy invasion had assured Germany's defeat, but the conspirators perhaps hoped to avoid further national-suicidal mania on Hitler's part.

The time was half-past noon. Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Klaus Phillip Schenk), chief of staff to the commander of the reserve army, arrived to meet with Hitler and 2 dozen high officers at "Wolf's Lair," the Fuhrer's retreat headquarters in Rastenberg, East Prussia. The conference, scheduled for 1 P. M., had already begun because Hitler was to greet Mussolini at 3 o'clock. Stauffenberg, who was talking with Hitler's aides in the compound's guard bunker, sneaked into the bathroom and activated the silent acid fuse which was connected to 2 1bs. of British plastic explosive in his briefcase. He had 10 minutes.

The conference room shifted from the usual heavy concrete bunker to the Lagebaracke, a lighter structure with 3 open windows. Stauffenberg was disappointed because a bomb blast is considerably more lethal if contained within a tightly-enclosed area.

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