Valkyrie and Stauffenberg

Valkyrie and Stauffenberg

After missing the show earlier because it was sold out we decided to go see Valkyrie at the 1:40 Matinee. My wife told me to get the tickets ahead online, but I told her we shouldn’t have to worry because I’ve never seen such an early show sold out in my life — especially one that is not number one at the box office.

As my luck would have it, the show was sold out again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My wife had “I told you so” written all over her face that I knew would be something she would bring up for years to come.

She said she didn’t want to come back a third time and it turned out that there was only one way I was going to see the show this year and that was to subject myself to the ultimate sacrifice that the male species on the planet can endure. I had to go shopping with my wife for two and a half hours — until the film was shown again. I bought two tickets for the next feature and made the sacrifice for the greater good.

The film was a good one, but not great. Even so, it was by far the best presentation of this story to date. There were a lot of things left out, but one has to realize that a film is limited in what it can include. The concentration was on the plot against Hitler and they had to sacrifice some interesting details to make the film move briskly along.

There were a couple things that could have been added without taking much time that would have enhanced interest:

First:  Stauffenberg was wounded worse than implied in the movie and would have died if a doctor had not been nearby in a Red Cross truck and was summoned to help:

“He was found, half-conscious, beside his overturned, burnt out and shell-pocked vehicle. His injuries were appalling. His left eye had been hit by a bullet, his right seriously damaged as well. His right forearm and hand had been virtually shot away, as had two fingers on his left. One knee was badly wounded and his back and legs were pitted with shrapnel. In this condition, he was rushed to the nearest field hospital, at Sfax. Here, he received emergency treatment. The remnants of his right hand were amputated above the wrist. The little finger and ring finger of his left hand, and what remained of his left eye, were removed.

  “Three days later, as Montgomery’s troops advanced on Sfax, Stauffenberg was transferred to another hospital at Carthage-a difficult and extremely painful journey, with the ambulance under constant attack by Allied aircraft. From Carthage, he was flown to Munich. He was running an alarmingly high temperature, and most of the doctors concluded he was unlikely to live. If, by some miracle, he did, he was unlikely to walk again. He would probably be permanently crippled, an invalid for the rest of his life. He might also be blind.”

  (Quote from “Secret Germany” by Michael Baigent & Richard Leigh)

Fortunately, he regained his sight in his right eye and soon walked again. During this painful ordeal he refused painkillers.

There is a story I read that states that Stauffenberg was born with a sense of mission but couldn’t seem to put his finger on what it was he was supposed to do. Then one day his wife was visiting him in the hospital and was by his side when he was hovering in and out of consciousness. Finally, he came to and looked at her and said: “I have found my mission. I must kill Hitler.”

The account made it sound like he had been given a message in a near death experience.

Secondly:  It would have added interest if they could have better illustrated what a fluke it was that Hitler survived the blast of the assassination attempt by Stauffenberg. Four things happened that saved his life. If one of them had not occurred Hitler would have been dead and history would have been greatly changed.

Here are the four things:

[1] At the last minute the location of the meeting was changed from below ground to above ground. If the blast had occurred below ground the concussion would have been much greater and everyone in the room would have been killed. As it was, the above ground windows released the pressure of the blast and made Hitler’s death much less deadly.

[2] Stauffenberg’s time to prepare the bomb was cut short so he only had time to prepare half the explosives. If all the explosives had gone off Hitler would have been killed.

[3] The briefcase with the bomb was in the way of a general’s foot and he kicked it to the other side of the table. If the bomb had exploded where Stauffenberg left it Hitler would have been killed.

[4] The bomb went off on the other side of the table and the explosion flipped it up in such a way that it shielded Hitler from the blast. Everyone but Hitler was seriously injured or killed. Without the shielding of the thick table Hitler would have been dead.

When the bomb went off Stauffenberg, who was watching, was sure that Hitler was killed and he said, “The antichrist is dead.”

The movie then did a good job showing the paralysis that affected the conspirators. Some historians believe that if they had not been paralyzed by fear, even though Hitler was still alive, that the coup could have still worked.

The third point of interest that would have helped was a few more details of the aftermath. It did briefly show some being hung by piano wire, but the uninformed wouldn’t realize that. The book “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” gives an interesting description:

  “There was a wild wave of arrests followed by gruesome torture, drumhead trials, and death sentences carried out, in many cases, by slow strangling while the victims were suspended by piano wire from meathooks borrowed from butchershops and slaughterhouses. Relatives and friends of the suspects were rounded up by the thousands and sent to concentration camps, where many of them died. The brave few who gave shelter to those who were in hiding were summarily dealt with.

“Hitler, seized by a titanic fury and an unquenchable thirst for revenge, whipped Himmler and Kaltenbrunner to ever greater efforts to lay their hands on every last person who had dared to plot against him. He himself laid down the procedure for dispatching them.

“‘This time,’ he stormed at one of his first conferences after the explosion at Rastenburg, ‘the criminals will be given short shrift. No military tribunals. We’ll hale them before the People’s Court. No long speeches from them. The court will act with lightning speed. And two hours after the sentence it will be carried out. By hanging — without mercy.’”

They took movies of the hanging by piano wire and used it to discourage additional plots. Mysteriously the film disappeared and has never been found.

Hitler not only rounded up known conspirators, but used the plot as an excuse to eliminate around 5000 people he sensed may have something against him.

Thus many lights incarnated into Germany with a sense of mission, were denied that mission by Hitler, and most of them eventually killed after the plot was revealed. Many of these have been born into better circumstances, but still having difficulty in advancing the light.

The fate of his pregnant wife Nina who lived to the ripe age of 92 was interesting, but it was not practical to put in the film. Her story would make an interesting film of itself. Here is a brief account:

“The Countess was then sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, as was her mother, who subsequently perished in another camp run by the advancing Russians.

“The four Stauffenberg children, of whom the eldest was aged 10, were placed in a state orphanage in Thuringia and given a new surname, Meister. In January 1945 Nina Stauffenberg gave birth in a Nazi maternity home to her husband’s posthumous daughter, Konstanze.

“The separated family were much helped by the efforts of her sister-in-law, Melitta, the wife of Berthold’s twin brother, Alexander, who had also been interned. Although she was a Polish Jew, Melitta had some influence with government officials because of her work on the design of dive-bombers. Towards the end of the war, however, she was fatally wounded when her aircraft was hit as she was returning from a visit to her nephews and niece.

“By the war’s end, the Countess was being held as a hostage in southern Germany. Although her guards had orders to kill her, she was eventually liberated by Allied troops and reunited with her children. Thereafter, she devoted herself to promoting understanding between Germans and the occupying American forces.”

Taken from: (

There was not time in the film to go more into Stauffenberg’s character and his unorthodox philosophy and thinking but it did do a good job in showing a heroic attempt against overwhelming odds.

Everything that could be found that was written by Stauffenberg was destroyed before the war ended so most of what we know of him is from the accounts of those who knew him.

An evil man will burn his own nation to the ground to rule over the ashes – Sun Tzu

Dec 27, 2008

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