His name was Claus Von Stauffenberg—and he became a hero for the ages.
Not too bad for a man executed by firing squad for the crime of High Treason.
But then not many men stood up to one of the mightiest and bloodiest war machines in history.
Not to mention the most infamous war-criminal and madman of all time.
Stauffenberg has been portrayed in film many times, beginning as early as 1951 in The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel, to the much more recent and excellent Valkyrie (2008) starring Tom Cruise, in one of his better roles. His physical resemblance to Von Stauffenberg alone, is stunning.
Born in 1907, an aristocrat and a devote Roman Catholic, Von Stauffenberg quickly rose to the rank of Colonel in the German Army.
He was a good man. An Officer of the highest possible morals and ethics, he quickly became disillusioned upon seeing the sort of madmen and monsters that came to power in the days and reign of Hitler.
And even more so when he learned of “The Final Solution,” Hitler’s plan to exterminate the entirety of European Jewry.
Even though partially blind and maimed in the war, by the summer of 1944, he decided to act. Forced into action earlier than he would have liked because of the ever increasing slaughter, his chances of success were compromised.
He wouldn’t wait for a better time though—too many lives were at stake.
The weapon was an explosive filled brief-case, carefully placed near Hitler at a staff meeting in the Wolf’s Lair.
At the end of the day, Von Stauffenberg came within an inch of pulling it off and killing the greatest monster of all time, and perhaps saving millions of lives in the process.
The attempt became known as the 20 July plot.
Only a table leg made of solid oak saved the life of the madman, and cost Von Stauffenberg his. He did not die alone.
Von Stauffenberg and several of his co-conspirators were killed by firing squad the next day, July 21, 1944.
Von Stauffenberg’s last words were—“Long live our sacred Germany!”
Hitler used the July 20th attempt on his life as an excuse to expunge the Army of “traitors.” Eventually, over 20,000 Germans were killed or sent to concentration camps in the purge—thus further decimating the German ranks.
So at least indirectly, Von Stauffenberg’s heroic attempt shortened the war.
Today, outside of history books, all references to Adolf Hitler are obliterated and erased.
Von Stauffenberg?—well, he became a national hero. Statues of him dot the Germany of today. Streets and plazas are named for him. And his place of execution—a shrine.
Thus it always is with heroes.
A coward dies a thousand deaths—a brave man dies but one. With Von Stauffenberg—perhaps not even that one. He seems to be as alive today in the hearts of his countrymen, and good people the world over, as he was in those oh, so darks days of the Reich.
We could use a whole lot more men like Von Stauffenberg today.
God grant that we might find them.
And God grant that good man a place with the Angels.
Thanks for reading. See you back in a few days with another installment of The Reckoning.
Until then . . . Goodnight.