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Sahil Jain

Mrs. Espy

9th Honors Literature

25 April, 2017

Operation Valkyrie/The 20 July plot

Operation Valkyrie, which was also known as the 20 July Plot was a plan by high-

ranking German military officials to kill the Nazi leader with the use of a briefcase bomb and

take control of the government from there, which was motivated by a massive growing German

hatred towards Hitler. This plot did not execute correctly due to a multitude of reasons that

included poor timing, poor coordination, and misfortune. Due to this failure, the infamous Hitler

was not killed, but rather injured, which lead to the failure of the plot altogether and the mass

execution of those that betrayed Nazi Germany, henceforth crushing the revolution and

increasing Hitlers drive. History.com corroborates the failure, stating, Hitler suffered only

minor injuries. He was even well enough to keep an appointment with Benito Mussolini (1883-

1945) that same afternoon, and gave the Italian dictator a tour of the site where the blast

occurred. (History.com) The quote shows how the Nazi leader did not only survive the attack

but was well enough to show Benito Mussolini the site soon after. It was a plot by senior-level

German military officials to murder Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) and then take control of his

government. (History.com). The quote above shows the animosity between the higher level

military officials and Hitler, leading them to execute the plot. Also, we know how the plot was

meant to be implemented, for History.com also wrote, During a July 20 meeting in a Wolfs

Lair conference room with Hitler and more than 20 German officers and staff, Stauffenberg

planted an explosives-packed briefcase under a table that the Nazi leader was using.
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(History.com) We see how the plotters meant to implement the plan with Stauffenberg (the chief

proponent of the plot) bombing the room with a bomb concealed in a briefcase. Even with a

bomb directly next to the leader, however, it failed. Even with all this known about the plot, there

are many details about the plot both before and after it to be known.

There were several motivations for the plot against Hitler. These included not only the

tension as mentioned above between the higher-level military officials and Hitler and the

patriotism of the senior officers but also the citizens growing awareness and dislike of Hitlers

practices. For example, History.com wrote, The men behind the July Plot were a group of high-

level German military leaders who recognized that Hitler was leading Germany into a deadly war

on two fronts. They decided to assassinate him then stage a coup dtat (History.com) This

quote describes how the higher level military officials of German recognized that Hitler was

leading the country to suicide on two fronts. This shows how the German military leaders were

motivated by patriotism and love for their country to stage a plot against Hitler, for they believed

that if the plan succeeded, they would be able to take back the government and rebuild it,

effectively fixing Germany. This was not the only reason that the senior military officials were

motivated to assassinate Hitler. In addition to seeing how his strategy for war was bad, they saw

that his practices in general towards the armed forces and the public were detrimental. For

example, the authors of Operation Valkyrie, the German Generals Plot against Hitler write, Its

always the same old story. Instead of listening to what the front-line soldiers have to saysince

he[Hitler] never gets up to the front anymore himselfhe prefers to deluge them with

propaganda (Galante, Pierre, Eugene and Silianoff 148) This excerpt depicts a scene in the

beginnings of the plot against Hitler where the German generals have just had a conference with

Hitler. They are unhappy with what they are seeing regarding the actions that Hitler is taking.
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They start talking about how they dislike Hitlers way of deluging the military with propaganda

as opposed to going to the front and listening to what the soldiers had to say. This was also a

major component to why the generals took action. However, the generals were not the only

people that were disappointed with Hitler. The citizens, even though they had the least amount of

information, were also upset. For example, History.com states, Since the late 1930s, there had

been repeated attempts by various groups in the German Resistance to assassinate Adolf Hitler

and overthrow the Nazis (History.com) This describes how the citizens of the country were

upset with Hitlers handling of affairs and how they were starting to take action by trying to

rebelling or assassinating him. This information shows how the citizens may have been

motivated to take part in Operation Valkyrie.

Now that it is known what happened in Operation Valkyrie and how the people behind

the operation were motivated, we need to know what caused the failure of the operation. There

were two major components to the failure of the operation: poor planning and execution and

misfortune. The two most important ways that poor planning played into the failure of the plot

were a lack of time to adequately prepare the plan the plot to make it infallible and not ensuring

that Hitler was indeed dead before initiating the next phase of the scheme, which would have

required Hitlers death to be confirmed. The authors of Operation Valkyrie, the German

Generals Plot against Hitler write, It had been decided that one of the officers who was

modeling the new uniforms would be provided with a bomb, which he would detonate he

must be willing to sacrifice his life. in which the uniforms were stored were destroyed by

allies (Galante, Pierre, Eugene and Silianoff 147) This quote depicts a fully formed plot that

plotters were going to use before the famed Operation Valkyrie. This scheme involved using a

suicide bomber to decimate Hitler. However, the circumstances that allowed the suicide bomber
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to come near Hitler were destroyed, due to an Allied attack. This attack forced the plotters to

make a new plan very quickly, as a great window to make an attempt on his life was very close.

The lack of time to plan may have introduced error and made the plan less likely to succeed. The

other reason that the plot failed were the random mishaps that occurred before and during the

execution of the event. There were three misfortunes: the change to a less lethal venue, the

arming of only half of the firepower, and the moving of the remaining firepower away from

Hitler. Scienceabc stated that initially, Stauffenberg would plant the bomb inside of the bomb

shelter (where the meeting would happen), which would likely kill everyone inside if blasted

from the inside. However, the location was changed at the last minute to the Wolfs Lair. The

Lair was a much less sturdy structure, meaning that the power of the bomb would be less potent.

This is because instead of the blast waves staying trapped in the bomb bunker, they would

quickly escape the wooden shack. This fact mandated an increase of the raw firepower of the

explosive itself and also to move it directly next to Hitler to ensure his death. A small failure in

either of these alone may have been enough to stop the plot. Sadly, both things that could have

gone wrong did go wrong. Scienceabc states, While Stauffenberg was arming the explosives,

along with an accomplice in a private chamber, an unexpected call from outside the room startled

the two men, and they were only able to arm one explosive instead of two. (Scienceabc) The

excerpt depicted the first fatal failure of the plot, where the bomb that was used was not armed to

the full capacity, meaning it would need to be even closer to Hitler for it to be fatal to him. While

the bomb was close enough to Hitler to be fatal, After Stauffenberg exited, the man standing

next to him filled his position and unwittingly moved the briefcase away from Hitler, saving the

Fuhrers life. (Scienceabc) This movement of the bomb away from the Fuhrer and under the

table decreased the potency of the explosive enough for Hitler that he was spared and suffered
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comparatively little. All of the described conditions created the perfect storm for the plot to fail

to kill the Nazi leader.

Finally, knowing the details of the motivation, execution, and failure of Operation

Valkyrie, we must explore the various consequences of the failure. Thousands of people were

found and caught through inhumane or crooked means and the ramifications to the resistance

against Hitler as a whole were enormous. According to the New World Encyclopedia,

Himmlers Gestapo, driven by a furious Hitler, rounded up nearly everyone who had had the

remotest connection with the July 20 plot. The discovery of letters and diaries in the homes and

offices of those arrested revealed the plots Eventually, some 5,000 people were arrested, and

about 200 were executed. Not all of them connected with the July 20 plot, since the Gestapo used

the occasion to settle scores (New World Encyclopedia). This section from the encyclopedia

depicts how the driven Gestapo found nearly everyone who could be argued to have any relation

to the plot, and how the artifacts in the homes of these people were used to find more individuals

with a connection to the plot, or any other plan for that matter. The result of all this rounding-up

was that about 5000 people were caught and 200 of them were executed. This information shows

how well the furious Hitler was able to capture the people that had committed acts of treason

against Nazi Germany. All of the severe measures that Hitler took to ensure the destruction of

those that conspired against him can most likely be attributed to his dangerous levels of paranoia.

This mass detention and execution of the people involved had massive ramifications to the

resistance as a whole. The resistance collapsed. As stated by the New World Encyclopedia, Very

few of the plotters tried to escape, or to deny their guilt when arrested. (New World

Encyclopedia) This excerpt depicts how the conspirators didnt even try to escape after they were

caught. This speaks volumes about how they had given up hope and that it is possible that
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Operation Valkyrie was the plot on which everything hung. The failure of the plan likely caused

the plotters to lose all morale in their desperate situation, which lead to them just giving up after

being caught. However, it was not only the loss of confidence the crushed the revolt; Hitler

found nearly everyone that had any relation to the scheme. This is shown by the New World

Encyclopedia, which stated that the resistance to Hitler was mostly crushed with one sudden

sweep by the Nazis. The loss of many essential personnel and leaders to the organized

revolutionaries likely dealt the final crushing blow. To squander the resistance, the Nazis had to

use a multitude of techniques to extract information about the plot and plotters. They used two

main methods: torture and extraction of information and exploitation of General Friedrich

Fromm. General Friedrich Fromm was particularly struck with the loss of morale. He had

known about and condoned the plot, sought to prove his allegiance by arresting a few of the chief

conspirators, who were promptly shot (Britannica) In this instance, the Nazis were brilliant and

let Fromm find and execute several of the schemers. However, later Even Fromm was

eventually arrested, tried, and executed. (Britannica) This was the best exploitation the Nazis

could have done. They managed to get all the information that they could have out of the

desperate General, while not having to spare him. The second way they got information was

through torture and vicious killing of the detainees. His police rounded up the remaining

conspirators, many of whom were tortured... About 180 to 200 plotters were shot or hanged or, in

some cases, viciously strangled with piano wire or hung up on great meat hooks. (Britannica).

These measures were likely taken to coax the answers out of the captives with either just torture

or a promise of not being strangled with piano wire. The New World Encyclopedia says that

Hitlers vicious killing was in an attempt to show the country that he had absolute authority and

any resistance or petition was dealt with zero tolerance. This was likely used to intimidate the
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schemers for answers in conjunction to conventional torture. The result of all of this was that the

loss of the revolts caused Hitler to continue and become even more driven towards his goals. For

example, History.com stated, Hitler and his top officials took an even firmer grip on Germany

and its war machine. The Nazi leader became certain that fate had spared him.I am now more

than ever convinced that the great cause which I serve will survive its present perils and that

everything can be brought to a good end. (History.com) Certain the it was fate itself that

believed in Hitler, he continued his ways and increased his grip and drive. This meant that all of

the work and planning that had gone into Operation Valkyrie and the resistance in general

backfired, causing Hitler to be worse for Germany than the beginning.

Analyzing sources about Operation Valkyrie/The 20 July Plot reveals that this event was

a plan by high-ranking German military officials to eliminate the Fuhrer with the use of a bomb

and take control of the government from there, which was motivated by a massive growing

German hatred towards Hitler. We see how the plot failed miserably due to a multitude of

reasons that included poor timing, poor coordination, and misfortune. Finally, we learn that the

plotters were not able to kill the Fuhrer, only injuring him, which lead to the failure of the plot

altogether and the mass execution of those that betrayed Nazi Germany, crushing the revolution

and boosting Hitlers morale.


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Works Cited

Ashish. How Change in 3 Scientific Variables Helped Hitler Survive an Assassination

Attempt? Science ABC, Science ABC, 27 Jan. 2017, www.scienceabc.com/eyeopeners/

operation- valkyrie-why-20-july-hitler-plot-failed.html. Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.

Galante, Pierre and Eugene Silianoff. Operation Valkyrie: The German Generals' Plot against

Hitler. Cooper Square Press, 2002. EBSCOhost, proxygsu- sfor.galileo.usg.edu/login?url

=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=540427&site=eds-

live&scope=site.

History.com Staff. July Plot. History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009,

www.history.com/topics/july-plot. Accessed 11 Apr. 2017.

New World Encyclopedia Contributors. July Plot. July Plot - New World Encyclopedia, New

World Encyclopedia, 26 May 2014, www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/July_Plot

#Aftermathttp:// www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/July_Plot#Aftermathh. Accessed

13 Apr. 2017.

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. July Plot. Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia

Britannica, Inc., 9 June 2015, www.britannica.com/event/July-Plot. Accessed 13 Apr.

2017.