The Monarchist Plot to Kill Hitler
Oct 24, 2004
Author: William H. Kennedy
On July 20, 1944 at 12:42 p.m. a time bomb exploded and ripped through the War Office at Wolf's Lair - the East Prussian Headquarters of the Third Reich. The primary target of this drastic assault was German Chancellor and Führer Adolf Hitler. Although injured in the attack Hitler would survive this harsh assassination attempt.
As the heat from the blast emanated from the structure it caressed the face of a young German colonel who stood about 50 yards from the flame engulfed building. Although this officer bore the marks of war wounds that included an eye patch and missing hand he still possessed an aristocratic and noble bearing in his tailored officer's tunic. Believing that no one could have survived such a powerful explosion the colonel muttered to himself that “the beast is dead.” This regal looking colonel was Count Claus von Stauffenburg and as the small building he had just bombed with a timed explosive hidden in a brief case began to smolder in flames, he hurried to a waiting staff car. His driver and co conspirator sped to a nearby airfield where a plane waited to fly von Stauffenburg to Berlin where his destiny beckoned. (1)
Thus began the famous July Plot to kill Adolf Hitler and overthrow the Third Reich. History was been very kind to the conspirators who attempted this daring coup d'état. They are heralded as heroes and as allies in the war against Hitler. The primary architect of this conspiracy was Claus von Stauffenburg and he especially is honored as a valiant soldier who sought to destroy the despotic figure of Adolf Hitler. In major cities throughout Europe, the United States and even Israel streets and parks have been named after Stauffenburg in honor of his bold effort to annihilate the Nazi Hierarchy.
Now that over fifty years has passed since the July Plot was hatched a fresh examination of the motivations and ultimate aspirations of the primary conspirator is necessary to understand the true reasons for this audacious attempt to seize power. Some of the conclusions drawn from this reevaluation may not fit the “official” historical interpretation of the events surrounding the July Plot. Some may even be offended by the conclusions proffered.
The primary thesis of this examination contends that the July Plot was not in any way, shape or form an attempt to restore democracy to the German people as it is often portrayed. Neither was it a concerted effort to stop the horrors of the Holocaust and to save the various Jews, Gypsies, Gays and political dissidents who so greatly suffered in the concentration camps. Nor was it an attempt to bring freedom to the many occupied countries that endured German control on a daily basis.
The July Plot was an attempt to restore monarchy to Germany and to continue the domination of Europe by the German people. In order to explain this hypothesis it will be necessary to examine the background of the principal conspirator Count Claus von Stauffenburg. What motivated von Stauffenburg to plant a bomb as a means to kill Hitler on that hot July day is far more complex than historians have acknowledged. It involves his own family history, the mentors of his youth and his opinions concerning the social class and standing of the leaders of the Third Reich. It is a lot to unravel and it would be best to begin with Stauffenburg’s family history.
Claus Philipp von Stauffenburg was born on November 15, 1907 to Alfred and Koraline Schenk Graf von Stauffenburg in Swabia Germany. His father could trace his ancestry back to medieval times. It is believed that the Stauffenburgs emerged from the House of Staufen who ruled Germany as Holy Roman Emperors form the early 800s until 1273 AD when the Habsburg Dynasty took the imperial crown. The Stauffenburgs were most likely Staufen princes who became warriors as a means to defend the German Empire.
The first traceable ancestor of the von Stauffenburgs is one Werner Schenk von Zollern who is mentioned in a legal document written in 1257. Schenk means “cup bearer” or steward in Old German and this title suggests that the Werner in question was a courtier. A script dated in 1317 mentions the name Stauffenburg for the first time. The signature of Hannes Schenk von Stauffenburg appears on this document and it is from this figure that Claus von Stauffenburg could trace his direct lineage. (2)
The von Stauffenburgs held the title “Free Knights of the Empire” meaning that they answered only to the Emperor in matters of law and personal honor. This imperial designation was of equal status to that of a baron. The difference being that a baron was bound to a particular region while a Free Knight was allowed to roam unreservedly throughout the Empire. This family produced a number of notable military figures. Three von Stauffenburgs were listed as members of Teutonic Knights and two others were known to be members of the Knights of Saint John - one of them becoming a leader of this illustrious order.
Another von Stauffenburg served with the Habsburg Emperor Charles V when he defeated the King of France in 1519 and then continued on with the Holy Roman Emperor when he seized Vatican City and held the Pope captive. Some von Stauffenburgs converted to Protestantism after Luther but many remained within the Church of Rome. By the seventieth century the Stauffenburgs boasted a Jesuit priest, two prince-bishops and a Field Marshall of the Swabian Order of Saint John. The famous poet and playwright Friedrich von Schiller was a Stauffenburg on his mother's side.
By 1874 General Konrad von Stauffenburg was raised to the rank of Count (Graf) by King Ludwigg II of Bavaria. (3) His grandson Alfred Schrenk Graf Von Stauffenburg married Karoline von ÜxKüll and to them were born Alexander, Berthold and Claus von Stauffenburg.
Claus von Stauffenburg’s mother Karoline von ÜxKüll was of Prussian descent and her family boasted a great many important military figures among their ancestors. Among these were Field Martial Peter von Wartenburg who began his career as a soldier of fortune and eventually found himself upgrading the Prussian Army as an advisor. Another famous scion of the von ÜxKüll family was Field Marshall August von Gneisenau. He served as an advisor to General George Washington at the end of the American Revolutionary War. Both men were instrumental in the defeat of Napoleon.
The von Stauffenburg brothers were raised with a strong sense of their noble heritage. They lived in a castle owned by the Wittelsbach King of Wütteremberg. Alfred von Stauffenburg served as Senior Marshal (special advisor) to the King and counseled the Bavarian Monarch on matters of foreign relations and diplomacy. His wife Karoline served as “Lady in Waiting” to the Queen. Her duties included organizing cotillions and other formal social occasions. It was in this fairy-tale milieu of Bavarian aristocracy that Claus von Stauffenburg took his first steps, learned to talk and eventually to dance, fence and ride a horse. (4)
When the Württenburg Monarchy was dissolved in 1918 as a condition of the Armistice the von Stauffenburgs moved to their country estate which had been their ancestral home for over 300 years. The village of Lautingen lies in the Swabian Alps just south of Stuttgart and the Schloss Stauffenburg, with its high roof and lily-white exterior, dominates the small town. The rolling Alpine foothills dotted the countryside the three brothers reveled in exploring the glorious landscape. (5)
Non-Germans can never fully appreciate the significance of the countryside in the make up of the German soul. For the German, and especially the Bavarian, the land and the people merge and fuse in an enigmatic mystical union. Unlike other nations which speak of national spirit, the Germans have always spoken in terms of blood and land. It can be seen everywhere in nineteenth and early twentieth century literature and even propaganda - Blood and Iron, Blood and Soil, Blood and Honor. In effect, the German worldview may be described as a sort of spiritual materialism the likes of which non-Germanic peoples can only grasp a slight understanding.
It is in this context that the young Claus von Stauffenburg and his two older twin brothers roamed and explored the Swabian countryside. They saw themselves as being physically and metaphysically merged the environment. This mystical communion with the land combined with the high culture and respect for tradition and family history they received at home made them aristocrats in the highest sense of the term.
As the brothers grew into their teen years their parents recognized the need for them to be tutored and mentored in life and art by an outside party. The standard gymnasium education was limited in its scope and the elder von Stauffenburgs understood their children required more than the regular instruction offered in the German school system.
In this regard they sought out the help and advice of German poet Stefan George (pronounced Gee-org-ah). George was the definitive German language poet of his era outshining even Rilke in reputation and status. In his early years George roamed the vineyards owned by his parents and soon became aloof and somewhat detached from his contemporaries. During his teens and early 20’s George traveled Europe and began to explore poetry and various forms of esoteria. He flirted with Ariosophy - a German form of theosophy which accented German identity but soon found it overly anti Semitic for his tastes. (6)
Eventually he settled back in Germany and formed the “George Circle” around 1892. This group comprised an esoteric brotherhood which sought to explore poetry, spiritualism, arcane rites and spiritual doctrines. This group eventually merged with a pre-existing fraternity known as the “Cosmics” - a fellowship which centered around George when he relocated to Heidelburg. There is much speculation concerning George and his followers. One overriding observation concerning this group was its total domination by George. There was absolutely no room for individual opinion besides that of George himself. Followers even had to take a 'loyalty oath' to Meister George promising to following him unconditionally and agreeing never to reveal his inner teachings to outsiders. (7)
Sometime in the early 1900’s George began to done what looked very much like a curate's cassock and soon his followers began to copy his dress and mannerisms. There were rumors centering around George’s use of secret ceremonies in which he wore ornate robes and regalia, burnt incense and performed occult rituals while uttering incantations. Some unfounded rumors surfaced which spoke of homosexual initiation ceremonies. It seems that George formed a Golden Dawn type organization in pre WWI Germany. (8)
At this point George began to publish volumes of poetry which were to capture the imagination of an entire generation of young German intellectuals. His poetry was to German literature what Nietzsche was to German philosophy. Nietzsche captured the essence of German identity while George's poetry explored the Germanic soul. As his poetic star rose George himself became more and more reclusive insisting that he only wanted to be surrounded by spiritual aristocrats.
George proffered a mystical/poetic purview in which a sort of priest king would emerge to lead the German people into a spiritual utopia. (Many Nazis saw this personified in Hitler.) This is best reflected in his masterpiece The New Kingdom (1928). In this work George expresses his hopes and aspirations for the German people and the mystic imperium he hoped would imbibe and revive his nation. (9)
When Karoline von Stauffenberg approached Stefan George concerning tutoring her three sons the famous poet could not be more pleased. He saw in the three youths the very embodiment of his spiritual and aristocratic leanings. The Stauffenburg brothers saw in George a mentor who understood their background and desires. Soon the three took George’s “loyalty oath” and entered the inner circle of his esoteric secret society. (10)
During his frequent visits to the Stauffenburg home George had the boys learn poetry by heart and even had them compose some of their own poems. He also tutored them in classical civilization and literature with an emphasis on Plato and the Greek dramatists. George had the brothers explore occult philosophy which most likely included the works of Rudolf Steiner and Thule Society literature. Although a neo-pagan at this juncture in his life, George encouraged the three boys to explore the numinous temper of Roman Catholicism with its stress on sacrifice and the mystical nature of divine kingship. (11)
In essence George taught the boys that their duty as aristocrats was to promote a new divine monarchy and to ensure that, within the limits if their circumstance, that they should always act with duty and honor as their watchwords. Nothing less would be befitting those of their high social station.
The two older von Stauffenburg brothers eventually went off to university and were to gain doctorates in the humanities. However, Claus was so infatuated by George’s philosophy that he chose a military career over university. Claus von Stauffenburg saw this as his only opportunity to put into practice what his mentor had taught him.
After rising through the ranks to Lieutenant in the German Army von Stauffenburg was surprised when an Austrian named Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933.
At first von Stauffenburg celebrated the rise of the National Socialist Workers Party. He saw in their symbols and their dedication the very essence of the New Kingdom he had envisaged for his entire life. However, his taste for the Führer soon soured. For one thing Stefan George hated Hitler and refused to meet with the new Chancellor. George declined Hitler's invitation to head the Germany Poetry Academy. As a final smear to the “Leader” George denounced the Führer stating that Hitler was a mere vulgarian who would lead Germany to ruination.
To demonstrate his complete and utter contempt for the Third Reich George left Germany in protest of the new regime and exiled himself to Switzerland. There he died not long after his expatriation in 1933. The Stauffenburg brothers acted as pole bearers at George's funeral. (12)
As the military prowess of the Third Reich grew Claus von Stauffenburg remained as an officer in the regular German Army although his distrust of Hitler grew as the years moved on. When war broke out in 1939 Stauffenburg held a number of combat assignments. He served in all of Hitler's major campaigns from the Sudetenland, to Poland, to France, to Russia and finally North Africa.
On April 7, 1943 Claus Von Stauffenburg was seriously wounded along the Kasserine Pass in the North African desert when Allied fighters strafed his convoy and vehicle. In a hail of machine gun fire Stauffenburg lost his left eye, right hand, two fingers of his left hand and a kneecap. (13)
It was during his recovery that von Stauffenburg, by then a lieutenant colonel, began to plot against the life of Adolf Hitler. Stefan George's opinions concerning Hitler all rang true. He led Germany into the greatest military disaster in modern history. In his initial plan von Stauffenburg knew that any cogent overthrow of the Third Reich would mean the deaths of Hitler and his two closet power sharers - Himmler and Goering.
Upon reflecting on the lives and careers of the three prominent leaders of the Third Reich von Stauffenburg felt nothing but loathing for these commoners who were as far away from George's vision of Divine Kings as one could get. Considering Stauffenburg's aristocratic upbringing - dancing with the Queen of Bavaria as a boy, exploring the Swabian countryside, listening to his parents speak of their lineage and especially studying the mystical poetry and teachings of Stefan George - Hitler, Himmler and Goering were nothing more than mere plebeians.
In Stauffenburg’s reckoning Adolf Hitler was an Austrian prole whose military record did not even involve participating in a charge. Upon leaving the armed services Hitler was a failed artist, paper hanger and one time vagabond. Given his chance this ruff-hewn peasant ran Germany into the ground.
Heindrich Himmler, head of the SS, was not even physically-fit enough to pass a basic medical exam for entry into the army. He worked raising and selling chickens for a time but he even failed at this inane employment. Himmler’s greatest claim to fame was that he once received a government grant to study the nature of dung in the production of manure but even this study was never completed. Yet on the death of Hitler this ex-chicken farmer possessed the manpower to seize the government as his dreaded SS followed him blindly.
Herman Goering may have had some merit in Stauffenburg’s reckoning as he was a WWI flying ace. However, he was a throw back to earlier age and made his living as a stunt pilot and barn stormer after the Great War. He was even an insignificant wine salesman at one time. However, Goering controlled the entire Prussian interior police consequently making him a threat after Hitler's death.
From the Fall of 1943 to the Summer 1944 Claus von Stauffenburg became the leader of a conspiracy to kill Hitler, Goering and Himmler and overthrow the Third Reich in one decisive action. In June 1944 he was promoted to full colonel and appointed Chief of Staff to Home Army Commander General Friedrich Fromm. Now von Stauffenberg had direct access to Hitler's briefing sessions and he made his final move against the man he referred to as “the Anti Christ.”
On July 20 after returning to Berlin after the bombing von Stauffenburg soon discovered that Hitler had miraculously survived the blast and that his co conspirators had failed to launch the coup. The plot quickly collapsed and Count Claus von Stauffenburg was subsequently shot for sedition.
If the coup had succeeded it is doubtful von Stauffenburg would have restored democracy. Although his provisional government would have placed General Ludwig Beck as Head of State von Stauffenburg would have had full control of all armed forces as Secretary of War. Most likely he would have sued for a negotiated peace with the allies and retained most of the new Reich.
In this regard it can be plausibly argued that von Stauffenburg would have eventually restored some form of monarchy in Germany with either himself or one of his brothers appointed as King or Holy Roman Emperor of Germania. Considering Stauffenburg's aristocratic background, the monarchical influence of Stefan George, and his overall disdain for the lower class types who gained political power in democractic regimes, this theory constitutes a reasonable conclusion.
It is unclear what Stauffenburg's opinions were concerning the Holocaust but it is certain that he hoped to bring diehard Nazis, like Albert Speer, into the new provisional government. (14)
Stauffenburg also recruited the German commander of France into the plot and, consequently, did not seem to plan to give up any segment of the Greater Reich if the coup had been successful.
It is very unlikely that von Stauffenburg would have bought back some scion of the Kaiser's family to act as king. In his the reckoning the Hohenzollern dynasty was too quick to jump on the National Socialist bandwagon in hopes of regaining power. Nor were the Kaiser's heirs raised with the same mythical concept of kingship and sacrifice as were the Stauffenburg children.
Count Claus von Stauffenburg was only 37 at the time of the plot and thus required an older and respected leader like General Beck to smooth over the transition of government after the coup. It is clear that Stauffenburg would retain control of the military and even went as far as to form an alliance with Field Marshal Irwin Rommel as a means to consolidate his hold on the armed forces after the Third Reich was deposed. Consequently, Stauffenburg would control the military and could eventually impose any form of government onto the Greater German Reich. (15)
In the final analysis Count Claus von Stauffenburg would have inaugurated the New Kingdom that Stephan George had conceived and would have coronated himself or some scion of his family as Monarch of the New Reich.
(1) See: http://www.joric.com/Conspiracy/ResearchPaper.html#15 also An historically accurate recreation of the events surrounding the July Plot can be found in the docudrama The Plot to Kill Hitler (1990). See: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0100376
(2) Baigent, Michael & Leigh, Richard, Secret Germany: Claus von Stauffenburg and the Mystical Crusade Against Hitler, Jonathan Cape London, 1994: 79-80
(3) Baigent & Leigh: 85
(4) Baigent &Leigh;: 97 - 98
(5) Baigent & Leigh: 99
(6) See: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=37211
(7) Baigent & Leigh: 257
(8) Baigent &Leigh;: 112
(9) See: http://www.alb-neckar-schwarzwald.de/s_george_poems.html
(10) Baigent & Leigh: 11
(11) Baigent & Leigh: 115
(12) Baigent & Leigh: 130 - 133
(13) See: http://www.joric.com/Conspiracy/CStauffenberg.htm
(14) See: http://www.joric.com/Conspiracy/Speer.htm
(15) See: http://www.joric.com/Conspiracy/Newgvt.htm