Monday, 23 March 2009

Stauffenberg's heir

Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg limited the details of his assassination plot of July 20th 1944 to a very small group in order to protect those who sympathised with him in the event Hitler was not killed and in the hope that they would carry on with his mission to make peace and restore the integrity of the German Army.

On learning of the failure of the plot, one of those sympathisers, Stauffenberg's good friend and fellow staff officer, Johann Adolf Graf von Kielmansegg, rushed back to his apartment. There he and his wife had to decide very quickly whether to destroy the evidence of their knowledge of Stauffenberg's intentions or whether they should keep some documents to prove they were not Nazi sympathisers to the advancing Allies. The threat of a visit from the Gestapo concentrated their minds and they set about tearing up and flushing the documents they had down the lavatory. The repeated noise of the cistern filling and flushing drove their neighbours to hammer on the ceiling in annoyance.

They had made the right decision because the next day the Gestapo arrived , interrogated von Kilemansegg for several days and held him for 2 months whilst trying to make a case against him. Eventually he was released back, not to a staff position, but into active duty and served on the western front in a panzer division until his capture by the Americans.

In 1950, he was asked to serve as the secretary of a committee planning the framework for a new German Army, the Bundeswehr. In due course he became a general and finally in 1963 he was made NATO Commander Land Forces with 500,000 German, American and British troops under his command. He strongly supported the democratisation of the German Army and its legitimate control by the government. He retired, liked and respected in 1968 and died in 2006 aged 99. Through him and others like him Stauffenberg's hopes for the restoration of the German Army's integrity were significantly realised.

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