On this day 78 years ago…

A bomb planted by Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg exploded at Adolf Hitler’s headquarters. Planned for months by von Stauffenberg’s resistance group, co-conspirators in the military were to occupy key government organs in Berlin after Hitler’s death in what became known as Operation Valkyrie in an attempt to end Nazi rule and World War II. However, due to Hitler’s survival and the lack of determination of the conspirators, the attempted coup of the same night ended with the execution of the resistance group.

The assassination attempt of July 20, 1944 was the most significant attempted overthrow of the military resistance during the Nazi era. However, the handling of the commemoration of that day has long been the subject of heated debate. In the immediate postwar period, many resistance fighters in the young Federal Republic continued to be seen as traitors and even openly referred to as such. In the GDR, too, the “reactionary Junker uprising” was given little importance compared to the communist resistance to Hitler. It was not until contemporary historical research in the 1960s elaborated the motives of the resistance fighters that Stauffenberg and his comrades-in-arms were successfully rehabilitated. At least in the Federal Republic, their fight against Hitler was now seen as an expression of a “different Germany. Nevertheless, it is repeatedly pointed out critically that the resistance fighters around Stauffenberg were not born opponents of the Nazi regime and that their idea of a postwar order was by no means based on democratic and liberal principles. With the heterogeneous and large group of resisters, however, it is difficult to name a unifying motive. Ethical and general religious questions or more personal questions of conscience, especially the experiences of the atrocities committed behind the front in the East, are in any case not to be underestimated as “motivating factors”. Today’s German historiography, however, predominantly emphasizes what it calls “national interest,” the assassins’ attempt to avert Germany’s impending defeat, for which they held Hitler responsible.

More on this topic can be found (as so often) at the bpb: https://www.bpb.de/shop/zeitschriften/apuz/186870/zwischen-diffamierung-und-anerkennung-zum-umgang-mit-dem-20-juli-1944-in-der-fruehen-bundesrepublik/a