Valkyrie! The Last Plot against Hitler
Part Four – Methods & Morals of the Traitors
Translated by Carolyn Yeager and Wilhelm Mann
Ein Anderer Hitler, Druffel Verlag, Leoni am Starnberger , 6th edition, 1982
Copyright 2009 Carolyn Yeager
Fuehrer Headquarter Wolfsschanze – Autumn 1944
"Valkyrie” was the code name for the alarm-ready troop response to emergency situations in the Reich – troops in their barracks and boot camps, soldiers on leave and in training classrooms. They should prevent revolts of prisoners of war and foreign workers. “Valkyrie” also meant military actions against enemy landings on the coastal shores and via airborne operations – in short all actions necessary to protect the Reich. By their nature, the Armed Forces were in command.
The investigations of the July 20th assassination were now finished in principle. Isolated at his sleeping cell during an illness in September 1944, Adolf Hitler had time to reflect. He told me:
Valkyrie was planned for the protection of the Reich – the plotters used Valkyrie as a deceiving tool for a cunning coup d’etat. But they could not turn their powerful positions and the potential they had to their advantage, in that they had neither the ability nor the strength to make decisions. The assassination – the “ignition” as they called it – failed. The conspirators did not have a Brutus.
An aristocrat – a colonel, with the knowledge and approval of the general’s clique – tried to take me from this world by deceit. I have to admit that the hypocrisy, cowardice and maliciousness – the breach of oath, treason and Landesverrat – hurt me more than the explosion of the hellish machine with English explosives that that aristocrat had put under the work table.
From a safe distance he watched the explosion – the co-conspirator and general of communications (Fellgiebel) at his side; then he flew back to Berlin full of energy to trigger Valkyrie.
It must have been a shock for that general to see that his victim was only lightly injured – yet he was still shameless enough to congratulate him. He considered it too dangerous to warn his fellow conspirators in Berlin. Well, they were ready to command soldiers, to give them orders that could cost them their lives, but they themselves were not ready for that. They would have thought themselves too important.
Not one had the courage to face him openly with a weapon. Instead of entering history by a manly deed, they tried to fell their supreme commander by treachery. Only self-sacrifice would have given them a chance to distinguish their act from that of a cowardly criminal.
How did they justify breaking their oath? Who would give them the right to assassination and revolt at a time of highest pressure and distress, at a time when fierce battles are fought on all fronts? They tried to justify their deed by pretending they were acting in the interest of higher human goals! They saw Churchill and Roosevelt, even Stalin, as their guarantors. They said that for the sake of humanity’s higher objectives the blood sacrifice of German soldiers and their comrades is justified.
After the 'assassination' Adolf Hitler insisted on being fully informed, and without glossing, of all the results of the interrogations: the statements and testimony of the conspirators. He asked for exact information of the circle of persons involved, and their reasoning; he was also interested in the operational plan for the revolt after Valkyrie. He soon found there was nothing planned!
The first proclamations of the bearers of an illusionary power were lies – with lies they confronted the nation and the Armed Forces. After what they thought was a successful assassination, they didn’t have the courage to confess to it.
Mr. Fellgiebel could not turn off all telephone lines. I was able to talk to Dr. Goebbels and the major1 of the Berlin Guard Battalion “Gross Deutschland”— who then cleared up the confusion. The putsch collapsed, the conspirators had not one company on their side.
Who would give them the authority for the assassination and the coup? With one voice, the front expressed its anger; the front line soldier could not understand how officers were able to do such a deed. The front could see the consequences and results, its judgment was also quite clear: it would burden us; only the enemy would benefit.
The reaction of a troubled community was the unanimous rejection of the assassination and coup. Worry and mistrust arose. Neither the nation nor the Armed Forces gave the conspirators the authority for the assassination or the coup d’etat – above all, not for rebellion and contemptible treason.
From the investigation and testimony one could learn that the conspirators didn’t think very far ahead – an egocentric attitude led to a euphoric opinion of the political situation, as in: First we get rid of the dictator, then, via Valkyrie, his party – the Allies will then help us! And once again those vague phrases of higher human ideals for which one had to sacrifice – that’s what their conscience demanded.
Also his writings gave them a legitimate reason for their deeds. Better than many of his party comrades who were reading Mein Kampf, they rummaged through the book and found sentences they thought they could translate to fit their shabby thinking. Since he “drags the nation” into destruction, he justifies in Mein Kampf their right to stop him through resistance, rebellion and the coup d’etat. It is, therefore, not only their right but their obligation to get rid of him, the tyrant – that’s how they read Mein Kampf.
He is ready to face the people’s criticism at any time. Not “he” dragged the nation into distress, but the openly declared will of Churchill, Roosevelt and their big ally, the international Jews – to destroy us. The reactionaries and the plotter’s clique encouraged that intention, and theirs was the best way to push the nation, via the putsch and assassination, beyond the present trouble, into the abyss. No—he denies those men the right of high treason, rebellion and the right to assassinate! Where indeed could they ever have shown the power to build a new state regime made necessary by the last war and the new century?
Again and again he asks himself: Where really are their ideas? What can they offer the nation? Only their names and an honor only they believed in? Both are tattered by their deeds!
One can lift a revolution to a big wave, releasing enthusiasm, national strength and willingness to sacrifice. One can not keep that wave permanently, one can not conserve it. But the start of a revolution also depends on the person who carries it and his authority – on the thoughts and ideas, if they are understood, if they have roots and find confirmation in the spirit of the time and the sense of the nation.
His way to the leadership of the nation is proof of his harmony with the national spirit.
The bearers of the assassination imagined a past they themselves did not understand. For him, it had been inconceivable up to now that a German officer – above all a general – could commit treason. Treason at wartime – damaging the German people, burdening the fighting German soldier – impossible!
The day will come when he can announce clearly and without misunderstanding just who instigated that war. Who? As long the fighting goes on, he cannot talk. That shock would be too much for the German people and the front.
For a commander, the most important quality is his character, his attitude. Intelligence does not stand higher. The character and the strength of his will alone are decisive when he has to withstand severe blows of fate. Courage, bravery and willingness to sacrifice are the prerequisites of a leader. He always requests that from his soldiers. So he shall and must be a role model – even more, he must be able to give strength and convince!
When he had to accept the capitulation of [Field Marshal Friedrich] Paulus and the behavior his generals, Hitler had said:
Now they will take their way down into the lowlands of wretchedness, the oath being only a fiction. A steady character is not their strength, intellectual self-esteem more so. They may try to work with the Russians and will lose face at the same time. It won’t take long and we are going to hear them on the Russian propaganda radio. Step by step, they will show a lack of character and, in the end, slander their military tradition. They may forget they carry a name of a dutiful obligation.
There were some co-workers here, generals too, who could not believe that something like that was possible. Hitler had said, “Yes it is, sooner or later, and all the way up a Field Marshal!”
That he still promoted Paulus to that rank, he never would forgive himself.
So one leads an army, the army fights and dies, and he who was entrusted to lead that army and the soldiers – does he die heroically with his soldiers? The meaning of that battle, the heroism and sacrifice of many ten thousands of brave soldiers, officers and generals will lose its value, will be trampled down by the one who should have been their example.
He will take the road to Moscow; we will live to see him at the radio station!
Hitler said that and he had it right, but that it would lead to such a disgusting mess as the so-called “National Committee for a Free Germany” by that Seydlitz-Kurzbach – I myself could never have imagined!
Well, Seydlitz might feel like York at Tauroggen!2 Seydlitz and his creatures did not grasp that it was Bolsheviks they signed up with; they didn’t get it because with their thinking they were still entrenched in the 19th century. They hadn’t learned anything at all. They hadn’t recognized that this is a war of life or death, not restricted to soldiers, folk or the nation. They could not imagine that we are involved in a fateful struggle, in a revolutionary fight for the existence of Europe—in a battle for a new idea of life (Lebensbasis), against destruction and the powers who want to destroy us.
If we still had such schizophrenic twits who thought: We do that with the Russians – we drop our weapons honorably, we hand over our epee3, which Marshal Stalin honorably hands back to us again – yes, in such a world they still lived! Then we sign a peace agreement with them – that’s how those idiots thought, and the ones oriented towards the West thought similarly.
Is it surprising that optimism dwindles? That our allies and the Neutrals might lose their confidence? And are we surprised about the demand for “Unconditional Surrender?”
What shall the front think, the soldier, when asked by those shameful tracts of cowardice to surrender, to sabotage, to commit treason and to refuse to obey orders – pamphlets signed by former commandants? We have to overcome that moral crisis!
They wanted to end the war and submit the nation to the 'Unconditional Surrender'; they would have surrendered the soldiers of the Eastern front to the Russians – they did not care!
He would have been relieved of worries, sorrows, pressing responsibility and sleepless nights if the infamy of Stauffenberg had succeeded. But what would have been the consequence? Chaos and destruction at the fronts! Hate and civil war and despair.
They wouldn’t have understood – it is not about him, but Germany! Churchill declared it frankly and cynically: It is about Germany’s destruction! Where can you find in this a political foundation for a conspiracy that makes history?
From a rare kind, they found each other: reactionaries, liberals, marxists, representatives of the church – the “Bekennende Kirche” specifically – they even prayed for Germany to lose the war. And let’s not forget the diplomats! And the Herren Generals! He can not expect to be understood by his generals, but he can request that they obey his orders.
They just could not see that we lived in a changing era and had to endure a fateful war. Instead of fighting for the nation as their oath required, they committed destruction, sabotage and subversion. The conspirators had no right, however, for the coup destroyed any trust by the mere try.
From the first war year on I suspected treason, often I felt it physically; I am sure that treason started much earlier. Now, after the assassination, proof of the permanent treason is clear. Still, not all traitors are recognized. What damage they caused!
1. Referring to Major Otto Ernst Remer, later awarded the rank of Major General.
2. York was a Prussian general during the Napoleonic war. In Tauroggen in East Prussia, he sided with the Russians against King Friedrich Wilhelm’s order.
3. An epee is a blunted fencing sword developed in the 19th Century for practice and competition.