Stulpnagel, General Karl von, 1886-1944

Stulpnagel, the Military Governor of occupied France, was a leading member of the military opposition to HITLER and a key participant in the attempted putsch of 20 July 1944. He had been an active opponent of the Nazis since 1938. In 1939 he was made Quartermaster General and then Deputy Chief of Staff, in which capacity he argued strongly, but without effect, on military grounds against Hitler’s proposed Western Offensive. Stulpnagel planned the abortive coup in November 1939, which collapsed when BRAUCHITSCH defected. Stulpnagel continued his search for upper echelon Army support throughout 1940 and 1941. In 1941 he was sent to the Eastern Front where he commanded the encirclement of Kiev and in 1942 went to France.

Stulpnagel’s next venture was planned in May 1944 with ROMMEL and SPEIDEL and its purpose was to arrange an armistice without Hitler’s consent. It faltered when RUNDSTEDT, the Commander in Chief in the West, refused to take part in it. By July Rundstedt had been replaced by KLUGE who gave his conditional agreement to participate: he would move only if Hitler was definitely dead. On 20 July 1944 STAUFFENBERG’s bomb went off at Rastenburg but Hitler escaped injury. The signal for Operation Valkyrie (to take over the state) went out and Stulpnagel began rounding up SS, Gestapo and Nazi officials in Paris; however when Kluge heard Hitler was still alive he refused to help the coup and Stulpnagel tried to cover his steps. He claimed he had rounded up the SS and Gestapo for their own security but he was summoned to Berlin and en route shot himself. He was found floating in a river and rescued. He lived in spite of his terrible head wounds and was put on trial with other conspirators and hanged.

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