Stauffenberg, Colonel Claus von, 1907-1944

Stauffenberg was a brilliant young officer who had served with great bravery in the Polish campaign, France and North Africa. In April 1943 he was severely wounded by bullets from a low-flying aircraft in the Western Desert. He lost an eye, his right hand and forearm and some fingers on his left hand, but as he lay in hospital he told his wife ‘I feel I must do something now to save Germany. We General Staff officers must all accept our share of the responsibility.’ When he left hospital he was given a staff appointment at the Reserve Army Headquarters and as Chief of Staff to OLBRICHT was drawn into the conspiracy against HITLER. In June 1944 he was promoted and had to attend briefing sessions at Hitler’s Headquarters at Rastenburg. He decided to use this opportunity to try to assassinate the Fuhrer and after several false alarms left a bomb in his briefcase during a staff conference on 20 July 1944. No one had thought to search the briefcase because Stauffenberg was a cripple but the explosion failed to kill Hitler, mainly because the conference was taking place in a temporary hut rather than in the usual concrete bunker so the blast was diffused and because an officer had knocked the briefcase away from Hitler. Stauffenberg left for Berlin (at 1240 hours) as soon as he heard the explosion and arrived at the War Office to find Olbricht, HOPNER and BECK unable to take decisions. Stauffenberg assured them that Hitler was dead but the conspirators had lost the initiative and at 2250 hours they were overpowered by loyal officers and FROMM took control. He had Stauffenberg shot in the courtyard. Stauffenberg will long be remembered for his courage and valor and as the personification of the German resistance against Hitler.

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