“Luck is inextricably woven into the fabric of life’s rich pageantry.”
~~ T. Matthew Phillips, Esq.
” K I L L I N G H I T L E R “
Three Reasons Why the July 20th Plot Failed
by T. Matthew Phillips, Esq.
THE JULY 20th PLOT
During World War II, many brave Germans made several attempts to kill Adolf Hitler. But of all the assassination attempts, the most daring was hatched on July 20, 1944 — a conspiracy involving German army officers — led by a dashing historical figure, a Bavarian aristocrat, Count Claus Von Stauffenberg — who would attempt to assassinate Hitler at his heavily guarded military fortress, the Wolf’s Lair.
COUNT von STAUFFENBERG
Count von Stauffenberg was a wealthy, educated nobleman, fluent in Greek and Latin, an accomplished musician, and a devout Catholic. He lived in a castle. He was a decorated war hero. In 1943, Stauffenberg was wounded in action in North Africa — he lost one eye, his right hand, and two fingers on his left hand. Stauffenberg strongly opposed Nazi policies, which conflicted with his moral principles. He held Hitler in low regard. Stauffenberg eventually connected with like-minded army officers who were also fed-up with Hitler.
STAUFFENBERG JOINS the RESISTANCE
The resistance movement welcomed him because, as an aristocrat and decorated war hero, Stauffenberg was highly respected. The resistance was comprised of German army officers who were disillusioned by Hitler’s continuing military blunders. After D-Day, in the summer of 1944, most German military leaders believed that Germany’s ultimate defeat was only a question of time. Furthermore, when they learned of the Nazi atrocities against innocents, many German army officers saw it as dishonorable and inconsistent with their religious upbringing. Eventually, many came to believe they could no longer perform their military duties. These men believed their only duty was to save lives. And to save lives, Hitler had to be taken-out.
THE PLOT to ASSASSINATE HITLER
As part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle, Stauffenberg has physical access to Hitler and his personal schedule, and for this reason, Stauffenberg is destined to be the assassin. Stauffenberg will personally deliver to Hitler a briefcase containing two devices — with time delayed fuses to allow Stauffenberg to make his getaway before the devices detonate. And, once Hitler is blown to smithereens, the conspirators will then seize control of the Berlin government — and immediately end the war, which will save millions of lives and save Europe from total destruction.
JULY 20th — The WOLF’S LAIR
On July 20, 1944, Count von Stauffenberg flies from Berlin to the Wolf’s Lair — Hitler’s secret military compound in modern day Poland. Stauffenberg is determined — in his mind he has rehearsed his assassin’s role a thousand times over. He carries the briefcase containing the two devices. Everything must go according to plan.
If successful in killing Hitler, Stauffenberg will drastically alter the course of history — he will topple Nazi Germany — and save countless lives. But if he fails, Stauffenberg is doomed to swift and horrific Nazi revenge, along with his family, his friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. If the plot fails, the Nazis will essentially consider it a crime to have known Stauffenberg.
THE PLOT FAILS
Spoiler alert: the plot failed. Stauffenberg and the architects of the plot were immediately arrested and the following day executed by firing squad. Defiant to the very end, Stauffenberg, while facing the executioners, loudly sounded his famous last words, “Long Live Our Sacred Germany!”
The Nazis rounded-up the rest of the conspirators, along with their family and friends. There were agonizing interrogations — and gruesome tortures. There were show trials — and mass executions. Many of the conspirators were slowly strangled to death with piano wire. In all, approx. 20,000 Germans were killed or sent to concentration camps — in retaliation for Stauffenberg’s attempt on Hitler’s life.
THE BLAST THAT ALMOST KILLED HITLER
Okay — it’s July 20, 1944 — at the Wolf’s Lair. Count von Stauffenberg is with Hitler inside a conference room where Hitler holds a military briefing. Stauffenberg places the weaponized briefcase at Hitler’s feet — beneath an oak conference table. Stauffenberg excuses himself from the briefing, supposedly to take an urgent phone call.
HITLER NARROWLY ESCAPES DEATH
Several minutes later, in the conference room, which holds about two dozen men, the briefcase detonates, killing four and injuring several others. But, miraculously, Hitler emerges unscathed. The Nazis see this as the hand of providence — God spared Hitler so that he could lead Germany to total victory.
ANATOMY of a FAILED ASSASSINATION PLOT
So, why did the assassination plot fail? Well, it was a unique combination of dumb luck, blind chance and random happenstance. The conspirators were highly-motivated and well-prepared, but as it turned out, fate intervened. Notably, three unforeseeable events conspired to cause the July 20th plot to fail.
(1) The Briefing Location was Changed: Stauffenberg planned to blow-up Hitler while inside a fortified concrete bunker, which had no windows, which would greatly magnify the destructive force of the blast — and virtually ensure a successful kill. However, as fate would have it, July 20, 1944 was an exceptionally hot day, so Hitler’s briefing was moved from the concrete bunker to a traditional conference room with open windows — and no reinforced concrete. As a result, when the blast went off, the resulting damage in the conference room was not nearly as great as it would have been inside the concrete bunker.
(2) Somebody Moved Stauffenberg’s Briefcase: Stauffenberg placed the weaponized briefcase at Hitler’s feet underneath a solid oak conference table. However, as fate would have it, somebody moved the briefcase — and placed it on the other side of the table leg — which was made of solid oak — which shielded Hitler from the blast. As a result, Hitler’s injuries were not nearly as great as they would have been if the briefcase had remained where Stauffenberg originally placed it.
(3) Stauffenberg Used Only One of Two Devices: Stauffenberg intended to use two devices in the briefcase. However, as fate would have it, he managed to arm only one of the two devices. Due to his battlefield injuries, Stauffenberg had trouble priming the charges and he was unable to arm both devices before the scheduled start time for Hitler’s briefing. So, Stauffenberg decided to put just one device in the briefcase — instead of two. As a result, the destructive force was not nearly as great as it would have been if Stauffenberg had the foresight to include the second device in the briefcase — along with the first device — because detonation of the first device would have detonated the second device — which would have provided the extra destructive force to kill Hitler.
The courageous Count von Stauffenberg is regarded as one of the few German military heroes from WWII. In Germany today, there are memorials and statues in his honor. Remarkably, Stauffenberg failed to get Hitler by the narrowest of margins — because three unforeseeable events intervened. And if any one of those three events had unfolded according to plan, Hitler most certainly would have been taken-out and Count von Stauffenberg would today be a household name.
MORAL of the STORY
It just goes to show you, it’s always something. No matter where you go, there you are. One cannot deny the role that “luck” plays in shaping the course of history. Luck is inextricably woven into the fabric of life’s rich pageantry. Like it or not, success or failure all too often hinges only on dumb luck, blind chance and random happenstance.
~~T. Matthew Phillips, Esq.
Produced and Directed by TMP’s Midnight Minions
in association with Chapter Eleven Productions,
Fly-By-Night Management Services, and
Neurotica Entertainment Group
Copyright 2018 – T. Matthew Phillips, Esq.
“If fools did not go to market,
cracked pots and false wares would not be sold.”