The July Plot

Adolf Hitler is commonly accepted to be perhaps the most vicious and repulsive of the dictators in modern history. Responsible for millions of deaths and horrific tragedies, the Nazi regime should be and often is regarded as one of the most embarrassing products of human existence on earth. As German leader from 1933 until his death in 1945, Hitler terrorised Europe, but why was the news of a failed 1944 assassination good news?

On 20 July 1944, Lieutenant Claus von Stauffenburg took a bomb into a meeting with Hitler in his Eastern front military headquarters with the intention of killing the German Chancellor. He hid the explosive in a briefcase and positioned it carefully inside the room due to host their meeting, before strategically and conveniently leaving to take an urgent phone call. Despite successfully blowing up and killing four men, its target escaped, injured, but still very much alive. The attempted murder was uncovered and Stauffenburg was executed along with 5,000 of his associate rebels. The endeavor to overturn Hitler’s bloody rule had failed, and despite the efforts of those becoming disenchanted with his reign, he would go on to impose more pain and anguish across the world for a further 10 months.

It is undoubted that had this attempt been successful, it would have drastically altered history as we know it, but there is an unquestionable case that this scheme had to fail for the betterment of mankind and particularly the people of Europe. Nazism, whilst a barbaric and fearsome political weapon, was also an incredibly credible method of controlling and commanding a cohort of vulnerable German people. Common in the minds of this generation was the ‘stab-in-the-back’ idea; a myth that Germany was a country betrayed by a dubious group of Jewish socialists who undermined the Kaiser’s reign and were guilty of subverting German society and success. This demonstrates a perfect instance in history whereby fear directed any anger and remorse for the country’s failings towards a certain innocent sect in society. This theory of the ‘stab-in-the-back’ was what nestled itself in the back of German minds during Hitler’s time in power, and this perpetual sense of vulnerability to sinister plots against them pushed the population further towards the Nazi Party.

As a result, by 1944, had Stauffenburg been successful in his scheme, it would have merely been looked upon as yet another evil force set out to weaken Germany and the strides it was making towards European domination. Hitler would have been seen as a willing victim for the German cause, and his party, the new heroes, battling against a world that seemed intent on spoiling the sensational achievements of a country marching to the beat of Nazi rule. The truth of the matter was, for the sickness of Nazism to truly pass through the people of Germany, they had to see it crash and fail in utter incompetence, and that meant struggling through until its true bitter end in 1945. Stauffenburg’s plan interfered with this, and whilst his attempts must be commended and credited, his eventual failure must also be painfully celebrated.

by Niall Shaban

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