Werner von Haeften

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Werner von Haeften
Bundesarchiv Bild 146III-347, Werner Karl v. Haeften.jpg
Born (1908-10-09)9 October 1908
Berlin, German Empire
Died 21 July 1944(1944-07-21) (aged 35)
Berlin, Nazi Germany
52°30′28″N 13°21′44″E / 52.507892°N 13.36219°E / 52.507892; 13.36219 (Execution Site of Nazi Germany Resistance)
Allegiance Anti-Nazi Movement
Service/branch Wehrmacht
Years of service 1939–1944
Rank Oberleutnant
Battles/wars World War II
Relations Walther von Brauchitsch (uncle)
Hans Bernd von Haeften (brother)

Werner Karl von Haeften (9 October 1908 – 21 July 1944[1]) was an Oberleutnant in the Wehrmacht, who took part in the military-based conspiracy against Adolf Hitler known as the 20 July plot. He is considered a hero of the German anti-Nazi resistance.

Early life[edit]

Haeften and his brother Hans were born in Berlin, the sons of Hans von Haeften, an army officer and President of the Reichsarchiv (German National Archives). He studied law in his home town and then worked for a bank in Hamburg until the outbreak of World War II, when he joined the German Army.

War service[edit]

In 1943, having recovered from a severe wound he had suffered on the Eastern Front, Haeften became adjutant to Oberstleutnant Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the leading figures in the German Resistance.

On 20 July 1944, Haeften accompanied Stauffenberg to the military high command of the Wehrmacht near Rastenburg, East Prussia (now Kętrzyn, Poland), where Stauffenberg planted a briefcase bomb in a conference room at Hitler's Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) headquarters. After the detonation, Stauffenberg and Haeften rushed to Berlin and, not knowing that Hitler had survived the explosion, attempted to launch the long-planned coup d'état, which would swiftly fail.

Memorial to Haeften and four other conspirators at Bendlerblock.

On the same day, Haeften, along with Stauffenberg and fellow conspirators General Friedrich Olbricht and Oberst Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, was arrested and condemned to death by General Friedrich Fromm, who nevertheless was later executed by the Nazi regime. All four plotters were shot after midnight by a ten-man firing squad from the Grossdeutschland Guards Battalion in the courtyard of the War Ministry, the Bendlerblock.[2] When Stauffenberg was about to be shot, in a last gesture of loyalty and defiance, Haeften placed himself in the path of the bullets meant for Stauffenberg.[3]

Haeften's brother Hans, also involved in the anti-Hitler plot, was executed on 15 August at Plötzensee Prison.

Film portrayal[edit]

In the Eastern Bloc co-production Liberation: Direction of the Main Blow (1971), Haeften was depicted by the East German actor Hans-Edgar Stecher. In the German production Stauffenberg (2004), his part was played by the actor Hardy Krüger junior, and in the film Valkyrie (2008) he was represented by the British actor Jamie Parker.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ (Fest, 1996) pp. 277–278 puts the date of the four executions as "after midnight" and so Werner's death was on 21 July.
  2. ^ (Moorhouse, 2006) p.207
  3. ^ (Fest, 1996) p.278

References[edit]

  • Fest, Joachim (1996), Plotting Hitler's Death (translation of 'Staatsstreich: Der lange Weg zum 20 Juli'), Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-81774-4 
  • Moorhouse, Roger (2006), Killing Hitler, Jonathan Cape, ISBN 0-224-07121-1 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]