Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I recently re-watched the film Valkyrie about the last attempt to assassinate Hitler.  Like most people (Americans or otherwise) I was completely unaware of this until I saw the film.  Which in it's own right speaks to how powerful and important movies can be.  The film doesn't try to be a history lesson, which is clearly stated throughout the commentary (which was great by the way), it simply tells a thrilling story with interesting characters, it just happens to be all true.

The movie succeeds on two major points for me...
1) We already know the ending, nobody killed Hitler before he took his own life.  So we in effect are being shown a movie that we know the ending too, but I still found myself literally on the edge of my seat (not just using the expression).  So nothing is "spoiled" or "ruined" by already knowing the outcome.

2) IT GOT ME INTERESTED IN A HISTORICAL EVENT.  That is enough of a point right there.  I'm not saying I don't care about history, I do...but it set a spark of interest in me so that when the credits started to roll I was already looking for books and documentaries on the subject to light a full on fire (again the 2 disc DVD has a great 45 minute documentary on the actual event).

Like the movie I don't mean to give a history lesson with this blog, partly because it's almost 3 in the morning, and partly because there are far better writers who have written great books on the subject.

No I just felt it appropriate to try and explain to you what this whole assassination attempt means to me and should mean to the rest of the world for as long as we're around.

What theses men did, and not just in Operation Valkyrie but throughout the war on both sides trying to get rid of a mad dictator was and still is inspiring.

I took a great interest specially to Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg.  A man who while served in the German Army during WWII, was NEVER in the the Nazi Party.  He fought because he felt it was right to fight for his country, but from early on realized something was wrong.

Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg
Some scholars as well as conspirators at the time argue that Operation Valkyrie was too little too late.  Some even suggest that it was all in the Axis' plan to have the Allied Powers feel sympathy for their defeat and that they were doing nothing but covering their own asses.


You have to realize that the attempts on Hitler's life had been going on for years, and that this final and most famous was to reach the final planning stages days before the Allied Powers even invaded Europe on June 6 1944.  The bomb went off July 20th.  If they had succeeded in killing Hitler that would have stopped the war 9 months earlier and saved nearly 12 million lives.  I hardly doubt this was solely an attempt at good will in the eyes of the conspirators.

They wanted to WASH the blood and dirt off their sacred Germany.  They wanted THEIR country back from the grasp of an evil crazed madman.  They wanted to prove that there was a pinpoint of light in the darkness.

The wreckage from the blast
Hitler wasn't killed July 20th as we all know, and in his place over 700 were rounded up for the plot and nearly 200 were executed.  Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg along with others were taken outback and executed by firing squad hours after the attempt failed.

But I don't think it was a failure.

Did the bomb kill Hitler?  No.  Was Germany the sacred Germany again?  No and the conspirators who gave their lives were seen as traitors for a decade after the fact.

Even after Hitler was gone, people were still afraid to admit they were wrong.

But failure?  No.  Hardly a failure.  These men renewed a spirit in their country and the world.  The closest another human being came to killing Adolf Hitler was from his own army.  Men who realized that enough was enough and they didn't serve a man...they served a COUNTRY, their families, and their heritage.

COL Stauffenberg was missing an eye, a couple fingers and his entire right hand.  But he was given the duty of arming the bomb, and delivering it.  Why?  Because even though he was a physically broken man, he was hardly a spiritually broken one.  He is someone who should never be forgotten. And is proof that you can stand up and do the right thing even if your entire country is engulfed in the wrong.  There is no medal, or pin big enough for a man to carry or wear that can capture what those men attempted to do July 20th.  While they failed to kill a man, they helped save a country.

Memorial for the July 20th Plot
You did not bear the shame.
You resisted.
You bestowed an eternally vigilant symbol of change
by sacrificing your impassioned lives for freedom, justice and honor.