New! - A new feature film purports to tell the story of Claus von Stauffenberg, the man who tried to kill Hitler. How close is this Hollywood version of events to the truth?
It says something for the credibility of "Operation Valkyrie: The Stauffenberg Plot to Kill Hitler" that the German government - the most anti-Nazi organization in the world today - denied permission for the film to be made on location in their country. After reading the script, the Berlin authorities found it bore so little in common with even the most basic facts of the assassination plot that allowing its production would make them accessories to a blatant falsification of modern history.
Undeterred, the movie company moved elsewhere to complete their anti-Hitler fantasy, the latest in an endless number continuously mass-produced for the last seventy years. In all that time, not a single, comparably hostile Hollywood film has ever been released about Josef Stalin, Laventri Beria, Mao Tsetung, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, or any Communist head-man, even though these figures killed many times more victims than attributed to German Nazis. The last American G.I. to fall in World War Two died more than sixty years ago. From the early 1950s to mid-l970s, tens of thousands of Americans fell in Korea and Vietnam to Communist forces, and a U.S. president was assassinated by a self-proclaimed Communist.
Yet, no films and television programs denouncing and exposing Communist killers are produced by Hollywood movie-makers, who instead churn out limitless numbers of celluloid rants against Adolf Hitler. Third Reich documentaries about Jewish power are deplored as the worst abuses in film history. No one dares to suggest that Steven Spielbergís "Shindlerís List" or, more recently, Bryan Singerís "Operation VaIkyrie" might be biased against Nazis. Jews are lauded for defaming Gentiles they hate, but Gentiles must never criticize Jews.
In choosing to showcase Count Claus von Stauffenberg as one of their heroes, the Chosen Ones have shown how far they are willing to go in their twisted attempts at keeping the fires of revenge stoked against Hitler. Far from having been a "righteous gentile", von Stauffenberg was, by all accounts, unrepentantly anti-Semitic. In a typical letter to his wife, Nina, while in Poland, von Stauffenberg wrote, "The population here are unbelievable rabble; a great many Jews and a lot of mixed race. A people that is only comfortable under the lash."
As a general staff officer with the 6th Panzer Division, he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class for his participation in 1940ís French Campaign, the successful conclusion of which he openly regarded as Hitlerís greatest stroke of military genius. While never an NSDAP member, von Stauffenberg was unquestionably loyal toward the regime for most of his life, and embraced its pan-Aryan concept while serving against the Soviet Union, where he recruited Ukrainian and Russian volunteers for the Wehrmachtís Ostlegionen, or "Eastern Legions".
About this time, he was approached by Nikolaus Graf von Uexkuell, the member of a tiny clique of disloyal German Army officers who had conspired against Hitler since they fired on his peaceful demonstrators in Munich, back in 1923. The older man tried to win his nephew to the conservative opposition, but Claus declined. Only because Uexkuell was a blood relation, von Stauffenberg did not report his uncle to the Gestapo. Later, von Stauffenberg was similarly contacted by other treasonous generals, again refusing to join them, but likewise refrained from turning them in out of the traditional officerís code of loyalty that permeated the old German Army.
In early 1943, von Stauffenberg was transferred to the fighting in North Africa, where he was severely wounded on 7 April while scouting out a new command area in his staff car when it was strafed by British aircraft. The handsome officer was severely disfigured and maimed by his injuries. During his long months of recuperation in Munich, he grew increasingly delusional, claiming, among other fantasies, that angels conferred nightly at the foot of his hospital bed, where they instructed him to kill Hitler. Learning of his dementia, the conservative conspirators were able to finally enlist him in their assassination plot.
Contrary to their portrayal in Singerís movie, none of them loved Jews, nor were they inspired by love of their own country, but were entirely motivated by preservation of the landed aristocracy to which they belonged. The meritocracy being built by Hitler was steadily consigning their privileged class to obsolescence. As some indication of their cringing cowardice, until they won the by-now clearly deranged von Stauffenberg to their scheme, their betrayal never got beyond talk. An important point "Operation Valkyrie" fails to make is von Stauffenbergís growing disgust with his fellow conspirators, who he repeatedly castigated as gutless failures.
As some measure of his state of mind at the time, he prepared a set of surrender terms - more like demands - to be presented to Churchill and Roosevelt after Hitlerís death. They included Germanyís retention of Russian, Polish, Austrian and Czech territories, with northern Italy thrown in, plus refusal of any Allied occupation forces on German soil. As a further example of the conspiratorsí utter spinelessness, no sooner had the crazy Count botched the attempted murder, than Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm, Commander-in-Chief of the Replacement Army, ostentatiously arrested von Stauffenberg along with his fellow conspirators, had them hauled before an impromptu court martial, and summarily executed before any of them had an opportunity to rat on Fromm, Frommís double-cross availed him naught, however, and he was very properly arrested for his role in the assassination plot.
Although he and his co-traitors certainly deserved to be strung up by piano wire, as postwar court-historians insist, they where not so dispatched. More typical was Hitlerís own interference in the legal proceedings, when he personally commuted Frommís execution from the hangmanís noose to the less dishonorable death by firing squad, in keeping with the traitorís former military rank. No such civilized honors were accorded to the German officers sentenced by the vengeance-crazed Allies at Nuremberg, one year later, when regular Army officers such as Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl died on the gallows.
As an indication of their psychological removal from the real world, von Stauffenberg and his fellow assassins were convinced that Hitlerís murder should spark a popular uprising throughout Germany to overthrow National Socialism. According to the anti-Nazi author of In the Name of the Folk, Political Justice in Hitlerís Germany, H.W. Koch, "all reports show that the majority of Germans, not only National Socialists and the undecided, but also opponents and critics, reacted against tyrannicide (sic) at a time when the fate of the nation appeared to balance between life and death ... there was no unanimous support for the assassination attempt." The "popular rising" von Stauffenberg and company imagined would follow Hitlerís assassination never extended beyond a dozen or so traitors within their own upper class.
Bryan Singer's "Operation Valkyrie" bears so little resemblance to these events we, for the first and perhaps only time, find ourselves in agreement with the German government authorities, who prevented him from committing a cinematic atrocity approaching the scale of the crime it glorifies