List of assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler

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This is an incomplete list of documented attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler.[1]

All attempts occurred in the German Reich, except where noted. All attempts involved citizens of the German Reich, except where noted. No fewer than 42 plots have been uncovered by historians.[2] However, the true number cannot be accurately determined due to an unknown number of undocumented cases.

Date Location Attempted by Summary
1932 Hotel Kaiserhof (Berlin) Unknown Hitler and several members of his staff fell ill after dining at the revered Kaiserhof hotel in Berlin. Poisoning was suspected, but no arrests were made. Hitler himself seemed least affected by the alleged poisoning, possibly due to his vegetarian diet.[3]
February 9, 1932 Berlin Ludwig Assner Ludwig Assner, a German politician and member of the Bavarian State Parliament, sent a poisoned letter to Hitler from France. An acquaintance of Assner warned Hitler and the letter was intercepted.[3]
1934 Berlin Beppo Römer Freikorps member Beppo Römer vowed to assassinate Hitler as revenge for the Night of the Long Knives but was turned over to the Gestapo before any concrete plan could be made. Romer was imprisoned at Dachau until 1939.
1934 Berlin Helmut Mylius Dr. Helmut Mylius, head of the right-wing Radical small class Party (Radikale Mittelstandspartei), had 160 men infiltrate the SS and begin gathering information on Hitler's movements. The conspiracy was uncovered by the Gestapo and the conspirators arrested. Mylius escaped arrest through the aid of influential friends, including Field Marshall Erich von Manstein.[4]
1935 Berlin Marwitz group Several officials in the German Foreign Office attempted to instigate an army coup against Hitler; they distributed a letter asserting that "The oath of allegiance to Hitler has lost its meaning since he is ready to sacrifice Germany", and that "now was the time to act."[5]
1935 Berlin Paul Josef Stuermer Dr. Paul Joseph Stuermer led a resistance group composed of several officers, university professors, businessmen, and government workers. The group assisted in several assassination attempts including Beppo Römer's attempt.[6]
December 20, 1936 Nuremberg Helmut Hirsch Helmut Hirsch, a German Jew and a member of the Strasserist Black Front, was tasked with planting two suitcases filled with explosives at the Nazi party headquarters in Nuremberg. The plot was revealed to the Gestapo by a double agent and Hirsch was executed by decapitation.
1937 Berlin Josef Thomas On 26 November, mental patient Josef Thomas, who traveled from Elberfeld to Berlin to shoot Hitler and air force commander Hermann Göring, was arrested by the Gestapo after he confessed his intent.[7]
1937 Berlin Unknown man in SS uniform An unidentified man in SS uniform reportedly tried to kill Hitler during a rally at the Berlin SportPalast.[7]
September 28, 1938 Berlin Hans Oster, Helmuth Groscurth Generalmajor Hans Oster and other high-ranking conservatives in the Wehrmacht formed a plan to overthrow Hitler if he declared war on Czechoslovakia. Forces controlled by the plotters would storm the Reich Chancellery, arrest or assassinate Hitler, take control of the government, and restore the exiled Wilhelm II as Emperor. The plan was abandoned after Britain and France agreed to German annexation of Sudetenland in the Munich Agreement, neutralizing the immediate risk of war. Many of the conspirators later took part in the 1944 20 July Plot.
November 9, 1938 Munich Maurice Bavaud Swiss theology student Maurice Bavaud posed as a reporter and planned to shoot Hitler from the reviewing stand as he passed through the parade. His view of Hitler was blocked by the unwitting crowd and he was forced to abandon the plan. He then attempted to follow Hitler but failed. On his way back to Paris he was discovered by a train conductor and turned over to the Gestapo. Bavaud was executed by guillotine at Berlin's Plötzensee Prison on the morning of 14 May 1941.
October 5, 1939 Warsaw Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski, Service for Poland's Victory General Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski and other members of the Polish Army attempted to detonate hidden explosives during Hitler's victory parade in Warsaw. 500 kg of TNT were concealed in a ditch, ready to be detonated by Polish sappers. However, at the last moment, the parade was diverted and the saboteurs missed their target.[8]
November 8, 1939 Munich Johann Georg Elser German carpenter Georg Elser placed a time-bomb at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich, where Hitler was due to give his annual speech in commemoration of the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler left earlier than expected and the bomb detonated, killing eight and injuring sixty-two others. Following the attempt, Elser was held as a prisoner for over five years until he was executed at the Dachau concentration camp less than a month before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
1939 Berlin Erich Kordt German diplomat and resistance fighter Erich Kordt hatched an assassination plot along with officer Hasso von Etzdorf to plant explosives, but the plan was abandoned after the security restrictions following Georg Elser's attempt to kill Hitler made the acquisition and concealment of the necessary explosives too dangerous.[9]
1941–1943 (several) Berlin Beppo Römer Beppo Römer, along with several co-conspirators of the resistance group Solf Circle, plotted once again to assassinate Hitler. He obtained funds from co-conspirator Nikolaus von Halem and kept track of the Hitler's movements through a contact at the Berlin City Commandment. However, before an opportunity presented itself, the plot was unraveled by the Gestapo. Römer was sentenced to death on 16 June 1944 and executed on 25 September of that year at Brandenburg-Görden Prison in Brandenburg an der Havel.[10]
1943 Walki, Ukraine Hubert Lanz, Hans Speidel, Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz General der Gebirgstruppe Hubert Lanz and Generals Hans Speidel, Hyacinth Graf Strachwitz, and Paul Loehning planned to arrest or kill Hitler during his visit to Army Detachment Kempf in Ukraine. Strachwitz was to surround Hitler and his escorts with his tanks. Lanz stated that he would have then arrested Hitler, and in the event of resistance, Strachwitz's tanks would have killed the entire group. Hitler cancelled the visit and the plan was dropped.[11] Lanz told of this plot after the war. However Strachwitz's cousin, Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff, who attempted to assassinate Hitler in 1943, said Strachwitz had expressed the belief to him several times that killing Hitler would have constituted murder. That is, Strachwitz was too much a Prussian officer to consider assassinating Hitler, which suggests that the plot never existed.[12]
March 13, 1943 Flight to Smolensk Henning von Tresckow, Fabian von Schlabrendorff On the return flight from a front visit, Hitler visited the headquarters of the Army Group Center in Smolensk. During the visit there were several attempts on his life:
  • Under the direction of Major Georg von Boeselager, several officers were to intercept and assassinate Hitler in a grove on his way from the airport to the headquarters. Hitler was guarded by an armed SS escort; the plan was then dropped.
  • During lunchtime, Tresckow, Boeselager, and others planned to get up at a sign and fire pistols at Hitler. The commander-in-chief of the Army Group, Field Marshal Günther von Kluge, knew about the plan but decided not to intervene. However, the plan was abandoned when it became clear that Hitler would not be present. Kluge forbade the attack, citing his fear of a possible civil war erupting between the SS and the army.
  • In a last-ditch attempt, Fabian von Schlabrendorff gave a time bomb camouflaged as a package of two liqueur bottles to an officer in Hitler's entourage, as a supposed gift to a friend in Germany. The bomb was supposed to explode on the return flight over Poland. The package was placed in the hold of the aircraft, where it iced up, causing the detonator to fail. Realizing the failure, Schlabrendorff immediately flew to Germany and recovered the package before it was discovered.
March 21, 1943 Berlin Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff After becoming close friends with leading Army Group Center conspirator Colonel (later Major-General) Henning von Tresckow, Generalmajor Gersdorff agreed to join the conspiracy to kill Hitler in order to save Germany. After Tresckow's elaborate plan to assassinate Hitler on 13 March 1943 failed, Gersdorff declared himself ready to participate in an assassination attempt that would entail his own death.

On 21 March 1943, Hitler visited the Zeughaus Berlin, the old armory on Unter den Linden, to inspect captured Soviet weapons. A group of top Nazi and leading military officials — among them Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, and Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz — were present as well. As an expert, Gersdorff was to guide Hitler on a tour of the exhibition. Moments after Hitler entered the museum, Gersdorff set off two ten-minute delayed fuses on explosive devices hidden in his coat pockets. His plan was to throw himself around Hitler in a death embrace that would blow them both up. A detailed plan for a coup d'état had been worked out and was ready to go but, contrary to expectations, Hitler raced through the museum in less than ten minutes. After Hitler had left the building, Gersdorff was able to defuse the devices in a public bathroom “at the last second.” After the attempt, he was transferred back to the Eastern Front, where he managed to evade suspicion.[13]

November 16, 1943 Wolf's Lair Axel Freiherr von dem Bussche-Streithorst Encouraged by Claus Stauffenberg, Major Axel von dem Bussche agreed to carry out a suicide bombing in order to kill Hitler. Bussche, who was over two meters tall, blonde and blue-eyed, exemplified the Nazi "Nordic ideal" and was thus chosen to personally model the Army's new winter uniform in front of Hitler. In his backpack, Bussche concealed a landmine, which he planned to detonate while embracing Hitler. However, the viewing was canceled after the rail car containing the new uniforms was destroyed in an Allied air raid on Berlin.
January 1944 Wolf's Lair Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin Ewald von Kleist attempted a scheme similar to Von dem Bussche's. However, the uniform inspection was once again postponed, and eventually cancelled by Hitler.
March 11, 1944 Berghof Eberhard von Breitenbuch On 9 March 1944, covert German resistance member Busch and his aides were summoned to brief Hitler at the Berghof in Bavaria on 11 March. In discussion with Tresckow, Breitenbuch declined to make a suicide bomb attempt attack. Instead he would try to shoot Hitler in the head with a 7.65mm Browning pistol concealed in his trouser pocket.[14] Busch and Breitenbuch travelled on a Condor aircraft to Bavaria, and were allowed into the Berghof. But SS guards had been ordered – earlier that day – not to permit aides into the conference room with Hitler, preventing Breitenbuch's attempt.[15]
July 20, 1944 Wolf's Lair Claus von Stauffenberg

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christian Zentner, Friedemann Bedürftig (1991). The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, pp. 47–48. Macmillan, New York. ISBN 0-02-897502-2
  2. ^ Killing Hitler: The Plots, the Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death, pp 3
  3. ^ a b T. D. Conner, Demolition Man: Hitler: from Braunau to the Bunker, pp 769
  4. ^ The German Opposition to Hitler: The Resistance, the Underground, and Assassination Plots (1938-1945), pp 87
  5. ^ Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918-1945, pp 180
  6. ^ History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945, pp 34
  7. ^ a b Famous Assassinations in World History: An Encyclopedia, pp 227
  8. ^ "Warszawski zamach na Hitlera: Hitler przemknął im koło nosa" (in Polish). October 5, 2011.
  9. ^ German Resistance against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad 1938-1945, pp 73
  10. ^ History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945, pp 253
  11. ^ Röll 2011, pp. 182–183.
  12. ^ Röll 2011, pp. 184–186.
  13. ^ Roger Moorhouse, Killing Hitler (2006), pp.192-193.
  14. ^ Ian Kershaw (2000). Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis. Penguin Press. ISBN 0-393-32252-1.
  15. ^ Michael C Thomsett (1997). The German Opposition to Hitler: The Resistance, the Underground, and Assassination Plots, 1938-1945. McFarland. ISBN 0-78-6403721.

Further reading[edit]