Military history



The episode Occupation: Holland 1940–1944 was among the best of the series because, like all good historians and. journalists, its makers let the interviewees tell the story. I have combined their excellent research with material collected but not used in the earlier episode Inside the Reich: Germany 1940–1944, which hardly deals with Germany at all – it is mainly about Stalingrad, perhaps because the episode on Stalingrad eschewed interviews altogether. This was unfortunate, because the question of German resistance to Hitler's malignant regime is one that has yet to be fully integrated into our understanding of the war. Although at first Hitler's undoubted popularity was the principal obstacle to any attempt to remove him from power, there can be no doubt that Franco-British appeasement followed by the ineffectual Phoney War and the collapse of France made him seem magical. Later, the policy of unconditional surrender announced at Casablanca made even officers who hated all he stood for shrink from overthrowing him.

There was another even more discreditable theme. It began with the kidnapping in November 1939 of two British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) officers at Venlo, near the Dutch–German border, where they had been lured by SS Colonel Walter Schellenberg posing as a disaffected Army officer. The two officers had with them a list of all SIS agents in Germany, who were rounded up. From this, in part, stemmed Allied refusal to credit all subsequent approaches by the German Resistance. Secondly, thanks to failures by Special Operations Executive (SOE) desk officers, German counter-intelligence was able to play the 'England Game' using captured Dutch SOE agents to send false messages back to London, which led to the death of fifty-four SOE agents and the dismantling of organised Dutch Resistance. The culpability of the British officers was covered up and the resulting, unjustified, suspicion of the Dutch led to them not being consulted in the planning of the disastrous Arnhem operation (Market Garden) in September 1944.


Hitler's Armaments Minister

The way I was going along with Hitler is much more complicated. I can't say that it was a direct line. I was realistic about the outcome of war and of the situation and I did think in a realistic way to prevent the worst. But on the other hand Hitler was still there and his ability to mesmerise people I think was also working with me, so my behaviour was in some way schizoid. I didn't behave like a normal man who would have said, 'This man I can't work with any more.' I was working against him, I was plotting many things against him, but after a while I was again with him. It's almost not understandable this behaviour without knowing what power Hitler had over his surroundings.


Berlin housewife, Social Democrat

I once took in the baby of a school friend, because both parents had been leading Communists and had been taken away. The baby had not been with me for an hour before they arrived to search my fiat, 'Whose baby is this?' I replied honestly that this was my friend's baby who had been arrested as a Communist leader. When the mother sent me clothing for the baby it had become known immediately and my flat was searched again. They asked what was in the parcel and I replied, baby's clothes. Well, they could hardly have taken the baby away from me – what would they have done with it? But maybe years later they would even have done that. Then they left, embarrassed, but warned me they would come back. Who was watching us, informing on us? When I returned from Bernau by bicycle, sure enough the gauleiter arrived only


General Erwin Rommel during Auchinleck's Crusader offensive in the Desert War, November 1941.


General Bernard Montgomery before El Alamein.


On the Eastern Front. An Arctic convoy, Winter 1941–42.


Panzers cross the steppe, 1942.


Germans are marched into captivity after surrender at Stalingrad. Most of these men would die in captivity.


The devastating raids on Hamburg, July 1943. Speer told Hitler that six more such raids would end the war.


The USAAF's first raid into Germany was on the Focke-Wulf factory at Marienburg on 9 October 1943.


Interviewee, then Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris.


It wasn't only the SS – German Army massacre of Jews at Katowice, Poland, 8 September 1939.


Massacre of the Mizocz ghetto by an Einzatsgruppe, 14 October 1942. Interviewee Rivka Yoselevska survived an identical atrocity.


A forced show of unity between Generals Giraud and de Gaulle at the Casablanca Conference, January 1943.


Never forgiven: de Gaulle is not pleased as Paris cheers Churchill, November 1944.


Changing of the Guard: Attlee, Truman and Stalin at Potsdam, July 1945.


Carnage on the beach at Iwo Jima, 19 February 1944, with Mount Suribachi looming in the background. The raising of the flag on top of it four days later created one of the iconic photographs of the war.


Brigadier Orde Wingate (centre), interviewee Mike Calvert and others during the first Chindit expedition, Burma.


General Sir William Slim, 'Bill' Slim or 'Uncle Bill' to his many admirers.


End-game in Europe German soldier advances in the Battle of the Bulge.


Comradely reassurance, Juno Beach.


GI next to the death train that evacuated 3,000 prisoners, most of whom died, from Buchenwald to Dachau in April 1945.


Some of the SS guards shot out-of-hand by American troops who liberated Dachau on 29 April 1945. Others were beaten to death, with the participation of camp survivors.


SS Lieutenant Colonel Rudolf Suttrop, Dachau Adjutant, hanged there 28 May 1946.

an hour later. Somebody must have seen us returning and must have informed on us immediately. It seemed we were surrounded by invisible evil spirits, who watched and betrayed us.


Lufthansa lawyer under Klaus Bonhoeffer, older brother of German Resistance Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The network was gradually built up. In the beginning it was a close circle around the Bonhoeffer family with connections within Berlin and outside Berlin to university professors, to doctors all of high academic standing, liberal-minded and at heart anti-Nazi for moral more than for any other reasons. Later on they were joined by officers from all quarters, particularly conservative officers and generals of the First World War who were afraid that Hitler would lose the war. It was my job at the beginning of the war, once I had been introduced into the circle of Hans von Dohnanyi, who was the son of the Hungarian composer Erno Dohnanyi, it fell on me by chance because I had so many soldier contacts in Berlin, so I was making acquaintances here and there through trusted friends and was able to establish contacts between people who by tradition were not really friends at the beginning but in front of Hitler they got together.*57


Surviving conspirator of the July 1944 bomb plot against Hitler

It's extremely dangerous in a dictatorship to do something against a dictatorship and it was very easy to lose your head. And most people like their own head pretty much. Furthermore, I think a person who has never lived in a dictatorship can't understand the power of propaganda. If you just hear always the same, if you read in every newspaper the same and you have very few possibilities for other information then you become very impressed by the things which you are told. And it's very difficult to have – to make up your own mind, to be critical.


People in general just didn't think much. Life was easy for them, lots of work had been provided for them, exports were blossoming and they were just well-to-do people but without thinking about what was going on politically. One should also note that what the Nazis did behind the scenes was very well covered – I mean it wasn't easy at all to find out what was going on. Our group was very well informed because Hans von Dohnanyi was the Personal Assistant to the Minister of Justice and through him we had access to all information which one could possibly have in Berlin from the circle around Hitler.


In the flat underneath ours lived a Jewish family. The only reason they had not yet been persecuted and taken away was that the father was Italian and belonged to Mussolini's party. But when we ourselves faced more and more difficulties the wife began to feel insecure and was scared that they might take her away despite the Italian connection and she therefore left. So their flat became empty and I begged that it should not be handed over to the landlord since we still hoped there would be a total collapse and we would all be rid of our difficulties. I looked after the empty flat and one night, it must have been around midnight, the doorbell rang. I opened and there stood in front of me a Jewish couple. This was how I began to help persecuted Jews. All of a sudden I had entered an invisible circle of people who smuggled Jews about. As soon as one hiding place had been detected they were quickly passed on. They would always move about by night. I have never found out who it was who sent them to me in the first place. Some decent people. The problems started with the feeding of the Jewish people since they neither had food-rationing cards nor very often any money. So we in turn had to make use of friends who exchanged their smoking cards for the odd potato or bread, or a friend would come and leave a bit of food. But all this was so illegal that names, sources or contacts had to remain unknown.


There were friends of ours who'd been arrested and we knew their families were watched, friends of theirs were watched and the telephones were tapped. Since 1943 we were aware that the next morning the Gestapo would come. One couldn't tell how people in prison would stand up under interrogation. We expected to be arrested, all of us to be arrested, because we couldn't tell whether or not they had been tortured and had given away names. So from that time onwards we really had to be afraid of the next morning – it was said that with the milkman was coming the Gestapo.*58


Dutch–Jewish teenager

My oldest brother, he knows a lot about politics, but my parents and the rest of the family didn't know so much. What they heard from Germany they didn't believe and they didn't like even the Jewish people coming from Germany because the things they told us were so horrible. And we didn't like them, you know why? We were not rich at all and they, they had better houses than we had, admittedly because they came to Holland with money. It sounds crazy , but we were not so very alarmed – we didn't believe all the things they said. My brother, I mean Eddie, the oldest one, came to our house in the days the war started and said, 'Come with me, let's try to escape.' And I remember my mother said, 'I must wait for the man who brings the laundry. What would you want me to escape from? I want to stay in my house and you have to do with politics, not me. What should the Germans do to me?'


Son-in-law of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands

What I remember vividly was a feeling of complete frustration because I took my wife and the children over to England and I was absolutely certain at the moment that I left that I would come back the next day. Of course we'd been fighting for three days and I took part in some of the actions in and around the palace, extraordinary enough as it may seem. I made friends with the boys that were guarding my mother-in-law and the family and I said that I'd be back tomorrow. And the next day as it happened the bombardment of Rotterdam had taken place so after my mother-in-law arrived in England I had only one feeling – I wanted to get back. I was lucky, thanks to some friends, that I managed to get back on a destroyer to Dunkirk and from Dunkirk to Zeeland and to see the rest of the fight there. Then I had to make my way back to England and after that we thought what can we do to continue, how can we start training the new people that will come from all over the world?*59


Amsterdam police officer

When the Germans crossed the bridge into Amsterdam across the Amstel there were lots of people and the most terrible thing was that among those people were a lot of them who brought up their hands in the Hitler greeting, so that you knew that they were happy for the Germans to arrive. There was nothing more terrible than to see that, to see Dutch people greeting the German troops. Another terrible thing that appeared was that several Dutch people you had trusted now turned out to be on the side of the Germans. That was the nastiest and most terrible moment that I as a policeman have experienced.


Announcer on Radio Orange

The Netherlands government, in July 1940, was the first government-in-exile which got a broadcast programme of its own. This programme was called Radio Orange because the symbol of the Royal House of Orange was of great importance to the people in occupied Holland and so we started on 28th July 1940 with a stirring speech by Queen Wilhelmina. Conditions of broadcasting were difficult at the time not only because of the war going on, the bombing of London, but also because at first we had very little news from occupied Holland. So early in 1941 when there was a danger that we were running out of texts – the news at the time was always broadcast by the BBC European Service – we decided to start a political cabaret. I remember that we looked in all the gramophone shops in London for old Dutch records, because we used the tunes of these records and put new words to the tunes.


Singer on Radio Orange

They had a programme every week but I wasn't in it every week. But my father wrote the songs every Saturday night and he used to listen all during the night to hear if there were any new things happening in the war that he could use, especially news that was not broadcast or was not talked about in occupied Holland. So for instance the first meeting of Churchill and Roosevelt, he wrote a song about that. And he took very often well-known songs that everybody could whistle, and made political – if you can call it that – words on it, anti-German war songs, so that the next day when people were walking in the street or cycling they could whistle this song and everybody would recognise the tune and would think, Oh, he's listened to Radio Orange too. That gave a kind of togetherness of anti-German feeling.


Orchestra leader

The Germans give out a bulletin to everybody who was playing music, to every singer, to everybody who was actually in the business, that first of all it was forbidden to play any land of music that was composed by a Jewish composer or an American composer or a British composer. You can imagine – no music of Gershwin, no music of Cole Porter, no music of Irving Berlin and so on and so on. Even it was forbidden to play sway Dutch music and people dancing on that music. It was allowed for the Dutch people to sit down in a hall and just listen to music, but no dancing. It was also forbidden to make show with your orchestra. For instance it wasn't allowed for a trumpet player to play a muted trumpet, like Duke Ellington, or to croon. It was forbidden for a trumpet player or a saxophone player to make a movement of his instrument like swaying, it was forbidden to play a higher note than a C, a rhythm C, because it was all negro music and they say in Germany negro was the music of the devil and we are now a cultivated people, so were the Germans, so we had to play proper cultivated music. But we musicians who liked to play a good sway tune we find always a way to fool them. I can't say the Germans were a stupid people aside from that because in the past they make good music and they composed very good light music too. But we don't like the way they treated us, you know, because we are free birds and if you forbid a free bird he like to find a way to show. Just before the war we learned the song 'In the Mood' and we translate it and during the whole occupation we play 'In the Mood' and there were many Germans who believed it was a Dutch song.


I think the alarm started when Jewish people had their card with a 'J' on it. That was the first time they marked you, you had your identity card you had to carry with you and what was special was the 'J' in it and you were marked because anybody could ask for the card.


Dutch–Christian Resistance

The mistake we almost all made in Holland, apart perhaps from a few, is that we signed a declaration that we did not have any Jewish blood. You must understand we are, Holland is, a country that hasn't been at war since Napoleon. We were completely taken by surprise and psychologically we were completely broken, and perhaps you might understand the devilish system in principle but you could not see all its consequences. You must not think that all the Resistance fighters have done everything right. I don't think so at all, but it was only very slowly becoming clear.


Dutch–Christian Resistance

In November 1940 the Jewish professors of the technical university were sacked and we protested in the form of a strike. Then the university was closed and not opened until next year in April. So that was the beginning – you couldn't do your normal study programme and then you were politicised a little bit by identifying with the oppressed in the form of the Jewish professors.


Dutch Resistance, Amsterdam

There were demonstrations on the birthday of Prince Bernhard at the end of June 1940. People took the opportunity to express their anti-German feeling in that way. There were demonstrations against the dismissing of Jewish civil servants and university professors. Then students went on strike in November 1940 and there are street fighting against the Dutch Nazis in summer and autumn of 1940. The economic conditions were getting worse and young workers were threatened with forced labour in Germany. And when the Germans began to terrorise the Jews living in the centre of the town, where the most poor of them were living, the Jews organised themselves in battle groups. These were the first battle groups in occupied Holland and they got help from non-Jewish workers. In another part of Amsterdam, a more wealthy part, Jews helped by non-Jews started a fight against a detachment of the Gestapo. As a reprisal the Germans arrested on Saturday and Sunday the 22nd and 23rd of February in a very brutal way more than four hundred Jews between twenty and thirty-five years. This caused immense indignation and on Monday 24 February everywhere and especially in the factories people talked of the outrage that took place in the Jewish quarter. The next day, 25th February 1941, the first anti-occupation strike in history broke out, more than one million people were involved in it.


Dutch–Communist Resistance

It was the biggest demonstration, the protest of the people against the persecution of the Jews, that spread so enormously among the population, because those feelings were very strong, that it became a general strike. It was a demonstration against the Nazis, against the Nazi occupation, against the persecution of the Jews . . . Thousands in a closed group marched through the streets of the centre of Amsterdam while the Germans with tanks circled around them. They didn't have any weapons so they found their weapon in marching and singing the Internationale.


There were Jews who under the threat of the Germans had to betray other Jews. The way the Germans put the pressure on those Jews to make them betray their fellow sufferers is something I don't want to talk about because that was really vicious. I know of a case when someone had been shot by the Resistance, a doctor, but I won't tell you his name. This doctor was very gifted and talented and this man had betrayed several of his fellow kinsmen, betrayed to the Germans but so badly that the Resistance had to kill him. That's one case – but another more difficult case is a Jew who betrayed several people. He is shot down and he is hit in the belly and wounded like this he is taken into a Jewish hospital. So the Jewish doctor is obliged to treat this Jew who had betrayed his fellow man to the Germans, and he had to try to keep him alive, and that is a very difficult decision.


My main reason for joining the Resistance were not nationalistic reasons. I joined the Resistance because I recognised the devil in the National Socialistic system. It is the most perverse barbarism we have known in the course of history. I reached this conclusion by reading a book by Herman Rauschning, The Revolution of Nihilism. I would like to add that Herman Rauschning has been a National Socialist, he had been a governor for Hitler in Danzig, but at a certain point he saw through it. Then he wrote this book, which shows very clearly how perverse this National Socialism was.


Dutch banker who ran an illegal welfare organisation to help victims of the Occupation

It was simply that you couldn't stand it, what was happening around you, and you said I'm not going to take it. I'm a rather stubborn man at times, all members of my family are the same, and we couldn't have it that these people marched around and did the most awful things in our country. Now if we'd been in your country we would have served in the armed forces, but that was impossible of course. Some Hollanders left Holland and went to England and it often took them a very long time, but I was an older man and that didn't come up. Furthermore I was involved so much in this business and I thought it was very important, but I felt just like your soldiers must have felt. The only thing is we didn't carry guns – but we did it in another way.


In that time you had seen such terrible things that you felt the very integrity of your being as a Christian was at stake. In reacting to this situation we should make ourselves available for the oppressed and take the risks that come with it. I felt that being in the hands of my Lord was the special equipment to be available for the dangerous jobs that had to be done. I was not married, I had no children and of course it's a question of character and temperament, partly, but I felt that I could take that risk. There are certain limitations to what the Germans could do to you if you are in the hands of the Lord. They can shoot you, they can kill you, but the relationship with Christ goes beyond the possibilities of German police and therefore I felt free. There was taking care after me, if that is English. You felt free to be available for other men and I said to my girlfriend when we discussed it, 'As Christians we can't make a point of the risk that you accept by doing the dirty job.'


I was working in a café–restaurant in the kitchens as a cleaning woman and there was also a man, a very nice chap – I got on with him very well. One morning it was freezing and he comes in with his collar down and I say to him, 'Oh, Tom, aren't you cold? and I grab his collar and I put it up. And then suddenly as I fastened it up I feel this little triangle, the little NSB [Dutch Nazi Party] pin. I got a terrific shock and he got a shock himself because he never would have thought that I would touch his collar. But he was still a nice guy because after that I would call him 'Dirty Black Dog' and he would just reply 'Orange Goat', just like that.


Teenage son of a prominent Dutch Nazi

It was very difficult for me to go to a normal Dutch school because my father was a well-known man on the one side but I think on the other he was a hated man. And it is not very nice for a young boy to have a hated father. There was a possibility in the first year of the war to go to Germany to this National Socialistic educating institute and I was very glad to have this possibility to switch. I was very glad to leave this country, then. In a very short time I was educated in this SS thinking – a great Germanistic empire and there was no reason for me to think about Holland and the Netherlands. This war had to be won and I was too young, but when I had the age I had to be a soldier to fight for this country, to give it its place in the greater Germanistic empire. And then it went so far that we could leave behind a situation that was too old, that little, small country was an old fact in history and we came to the new situation – this great new Germanistic empire.


Dutch Resistance

I think it was quite a vital thing, you know, it was the best way to live during the war to do something against the occupier. It was something that made you happy that you could do it, it gave you a feeling of being, not brave but just doing something worth while. You see, you just had to do it.


Dutch factory worker

After the disaster of May 1940 the Germans took our officers of the Army to prison camps. Later on most of the officers were sent away home. I don't know exactly the reason but in the end of April 1943 they said that all the officers of the formal Dutch Army must go back to the prison camps. Well, we did not like it, but what will we do, what can we do? So here in this factory some people said we will go on strike, don't work any further. We phoned to everybody, you know we had many connections all over the Netherlands at that time. Elsie knew everybody and so she phoned to say we are going home, we don't work any longer and we will go on strike.


What drove me personally, and I think all of the other people, we were driven by a terrific hate because we'd never experienced anything like that in Amsterdam, that many people just because they were Jewish, that those people – women and children and there was no exception – that those people were just arrested and knocked about. So you almost got a feeling to see someone in the water so there's not really anything left but to dive after him to get him out. You don't ask yourself is it clean or is it polluted, you are filled with anger. I'm still absolutely sure it helped to relieve their fear and terror, the depression and the despondence, that it helped cheer those people up. But we've only realised that afterwards – at that moment it was sheer hate.


When the doorbell was rung, two Germans, they both came up the stairs and one stayed at the top of the stairs, the other came into the room. He looked all over the room and the two men who were there had to get dressed and come with them. And we, being women, crying of course, both of us, one woman with the baby in her arms and the other one hanging on to her skirt. And I can still recall vividly the one German who was inside the room, he was crying and the tears were streaming down his face and he said, 'Oh, I'm so terribly sorry I'm not alone,' that is to say I would love to help you but I can't do anything because there is another one with me. He couldn't do it but he would have tried very hard to leave those two men there because he thought it was terrible. And that was the first time I'd ever seen a German cry, and to see him really cry, big tears down his face. He was terribly upset.


None of my thoughts about assassinating Hitler succeeded and such ideas have something ridiculous if they don't succeed. I am quite aware of that – I only wanted to state how far Hitler was forcing one of his followers in the end of the war by his attitude, that he was forcing him freely to think about killing him. One can see in the end of a person sometimes his whole life, and in my opinion the end of Hitler showing us what the whole thing was like. It was more an idea to kill Hitler, but that can't be compared with what the people around Stauffenberg did because they were doing it for a very high ethical level and this was not the case for me.


Deputy Chief of Wehrmacht Operations

My disillusionment had begun early during the otherwise so successful campaign against France; at many instances during the campaign against Russia, when Hitler dispersed the German forces on our march to the south of Russia, to Stalingrad, with all the consequences. So there was not much to get disillusioned about later, all he did then in my opinion was no more military leadership, it was just despair, obstinacy against everything which went wrong.


Claus von Stauffenberg was wounded in Africa, he had lost his left eye, three fingers of his left hand and his right hand altogether. He came to Berlin to do Staff Officer work in the High Command of the Home Army and this placed him in a position to be near the original conspirators. He came to Berlin in October 1943, before that he'd been in hospital and before then he'd been in Africa. Now he was a very intelligent and able Staff Officer and he realised nothing would be done unless someone really went into it and saw to it that things were properly prepared in a General Staff manner. I never forget a friend of mine, a captain of the First World War who was working in intelligence, he came to me and said, 'Otto, we've got a young man who's come in and he's the one who will do something.' In the end it did turn out that he did take action. Originally he was only the planner but then he became aware that there was no other chance for any other officer to get near Hitler, which he could do because he had to report to Hitler's headquarters and attend conferences there. This enabled him to get really near to Hitler and then to make the attempt, which he did on 20th July 1944. I was prepared since November 1943 because since March 1942 it was my particular job to try and establish contact in Madrid and Lisbon with the governments of the United States and England.*60


Commander of the Berlin Guard Regiment, July 1944

The whole conspiracy was organised in a dilettante fashion. They had especially overlooked the fact that the German Army was fighting for Germany and for Europe and wanted to win the war. Every German knew that if Hitler was assassinated then the war would be lost and nobody could hinder the Russians to invade Europe. In addition to this the preparation of the putsch was insufficient. One had to know the mentality of the German Army and know that the overriding duty was to the oath of loyalty. Any putsch such as Stauffenberg's had to succeed in lulling Hitler because it was to him that the oath was sworn. This could not be achieved by cowardly placing a bomb in a corner – he should have had the courage to use a pistol and shoot Hitler. This is what a real man would have done and I would have respected him. On the contrary one of the main conspirators, General Erich Fellgiebel, who was in charge of suspending immediately the central news office in headquarters, when he heard that Hitler was alive went straight to the leader and congratulated him on his survival. These are things that I, as a soldier, cannot understand.


Those of 20th July plot I saw quite often. My job as Armaments Minister brought a weekly contact with them because they were all my clients in some way. When we discussed things they were very bitter, but never about how far they wanted to go; they were just showing me that organisation is very low, that many things could be done to make things more effective and so on. It was found out a few days later that there was a list of new government which was drafted by those who plotted. It was found I was Minister, in this new government, for Armament. Luckily enough behind my name was the question mark, which was proof that I was not involved in the plot. If Stauffenberg could have succeeded in killing Hitler, in my opinion things could have taken quite another course because when, for instance, in Vienna the gauleiter was taken over by an officer and a few soldiers and was arrested for a while, there was no coun-termeasure, they just behaved like sheep and let themselves be arrested, which I wouldn't have believed before. And the same thing happened in Paris where the whole of the Gestapo was arrested without taking any defence measures. So if Hitler would have been killed I think there would have been really a chance for the men who made the plot of 20th July to come through.


On 20th July 1944 I was at my post of command to the north of Berlin; towards noon I was called by telephone by my communication officer in Hitler's headquarters in the province of East Prussia. He told me that it was necessary that I should come as quickly as possible to Hitler's headquarters; the reason, why I should come, he did not tell me speaking by telephone. When I arrived by plane in the late afternoon I was instructed at once on the aerodrome what had happened. Who belonged to this Resistance organisation and which reason and project it had I did not know at this time. About my opinion which I have today, on this question, I have written in my book. There's no doubt that the persons who made this attack were morally right.


I couldn't say that the July Plot had any effect on Hitler's ideas; he just kept to this illusionary idea that it would be possible to resume the offensive in the West as soon as possible. But his relations to the General Staff had never been particularly good because they were in his National Socialist Party eyes a flock of intellectuals or defeatists. And from July on this opinion deepened to a suspicion to almost every General Staff Officer as an adversary of his regime and even his person.



Hitler and all the people who were at the headquarters were shocked by the attempt and later on Hitler has spoken about the July Plot and he never understood that Stauffenberg or another officer, or a general, didn't want to risk his own life to kill him, but rather preferred to risk the lives of some of their own comrades who were present at the military conference when the bomb exploded, and some of them were killed or injured at this time. There were hundreds of officers who came into the headquarters and they could have the possibility to kill him when they wanted – if they risked their own life.


I was in the room when Goebbels was counteracting the July 1944 plot and I was discussing with him some facts, that Himmler was not to be found. They tried everything to find out where he stays because he was Minister of Interior and he was chief of the whole SS, and it was up to him to fight this plot. But obviously he was hiding somewhere and the same happened with the SS troops, a small number which were in Berlin, they were just as if they couldn't be there. And then late in the night Himmler showed up when everything was finished. Goebbels asked him, 'Where have you been?' and he had some phrase, 'Well, it's better you stay away somewhere far, in a lonely place so you can't get involved in it because you can't erect the countermeasures much better if you are not in the middle of it'. But Goebbels obviously didn't believe him, he mistrusted definitely Himmler this day. I had the same feeling.


Later on in the night of 20th July 1944 about midnight the announcer said soon the Führer will speak to the German people. I laughed, 'Oh, nonsense, he can't speak, he's dead.' Then I thought that they, the Nazis, had at their disposal a voice being able to imitate Hitler, as we had one at the ready if need be. Then I thought that the imitator would talk but actually at three or four minutes to one o'clock he started talking and I at once recognised his voice and I was flabbergasted that he should be alive.

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