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Assassination Attempts: Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Nazi Germany Part 3

About the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Nazi Germany, the history of the failed attempt.

The Victim: ADOLF HITLER, Chancellor of Nazi Germany.

The conspiracy against Hitler was not carried on by a group of fanatics. These men were organized and ambitious. In 1939, Winston Churchill was visited by agents of the resistance and informed of their schemes. In 1943, a conspirator met with U.S. Intelligence leader Allen Dulles to urge active contact between the Allies and the resistance. In 1944, Rommel and other important commanders were invited to join the ranks of the conspirators, or at least to support them after the coup. Rommel, however, declined as he favored the arrest and trial of Hitler rather than his assassination. Most of the generals preferred to wait for the results of the coup before committing themselves to the anti-Hitler forces.

What happened to the conspiracy after Stauffenberg's bomb failed to kill Hitler? For 2 tense hours on the afternoon of July 20, 1944, Beck, Olbricht, and the plotters in Berlin waited for the word from Wolf's Lair. No message arrived. Stauffenberg boarded his plane at 3:42 P.M. While he was in the air, Olbricht in Berlin decided to go ahead with the planned coup d'etat. It was hoped that units of the reserve army would move in and surround the Berlin Administrative Center--after Hitler's death--and follow the orders of the conspirators, who would have themselves set up as the new military command.

The Fuhrer's death was announced. Much confusion followed. Arrests were made by the conspirators, counterarrests were made by the loyalists. Stauffenberg arrived around 5 P.M. and "confirmed" Hitler's demise. New activity boiled in the War Office--the conspirators' headquarters. Phone calls announcing the coup were made to European commands and more Nazis were arrested, but already the news of the assassination was being authoritatively challenged. The reserve army units moved too slowly, and the conspirators failed to take over the propaganda ministry or the central broadcasting facilities.

At 6:45 P.M. Goebbels's broadcast to the nation gave the official confirmation that Hitler was alive. The conspirators continued their desperate telephoning but the curtain was closing. Late that night a small group of S.S. commandos shot their way into the War Office and arrested the conspirators. An instant court-martial was set up and death sentences were announced. General Beck was given the choice of suicide or arrest. He chose the former. Stauffenberg, Olbricht, and others were executed by a firing squad.

In the days and weeks that followed, Canaris, Oster, Schlabrendorff, Tresckow, and other principals were arrested and immediately or eventually executed. According to one source, 7,000 arrests were made and 2,000 death sentences were handed down by the Nazi's "people's courts." (No evidence was allowed on behalf of the defendants.)

The Fuhrer ordered that a number of conspirators be hanged "like carcasses of meat." Accordingly, a group of unfortunates were suspended by piano wire from meat hooks at the Plotzensee barracks. Films were made of this and Hitler had them rushed to his personal projection room for viewing.

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