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1/ I realized that yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler. That makes today the anniversary of execution of the man who planted the bomb: Claus von Stauffenberg. So, let's talk about the German resistance, which was complex.
2/ / General caveats:

-We have a tendency to what to see heroes in history. W/ a few exceptions, this tendency usually leads us down bad analytical paths.

-I’m not a historian, but I do recognize the complexity of the matter, esp. w/r/t motivations. Corrections are welcome.
3/ The "German Resistance" was much more fractured than the French, Greek, Italian, etc. resistance movements, tho every movement had conflict. However, “German Resistance” consisted of many groups w/ diverse motivations that were in many cases in direct conflict w/ one another
4/ When we think of "resisters" in general, we often ascribe moral or noble motives to their actions. In some cases, this attribution is correct: there were those who resisted Hitler because they believed war was immoral, or anti-Semitism was immoral, or fascism was immoral, etc.
5/ In Germany, there were student resistors, Catholic resistors, Protestant resistors, Communist resistors, etc. And, again, some had motives that, even under a modern lens, would be judged as moral or noble.
6/ There were also, however, resisters who were more problematic, many of whom were in the military.
7/ There were, for example, men who were in favor of not only the invasion of Poland, but also of the large scale ethnic persecution and elimination of Jewish people, Polish people, and, of course, Polish Jews.
8/ By some accounts (perhaps all?) von Stauffenberg was one such resister. He agreed with many of the goals of National Socialism. He agreed with the invasion and occupation of Poland.
9/ von Stauffenberg made anti-Semitic remarks, especially regarding Polish Jews. There are also reports that, at some point, perhaps von Stauffenberg began to believe the genocide he in some ways supported had become “too extreme.”

(yes, this is a morally inconsistent position)
10/ Second hand accounts include one claim that von Stauffenberg told a friend, in 1942: “They are shooting Jews in masses. These crimes must not be allowed to continue."
11/ It was also reported that von Stauffenberg "basically approved of the racial principle of National Socialism, but considered it to be exaggerated and excessive."
12/ Overall, there were many German resisters, often w/in the military ranks, who were proponents of National Socialism but opposed war b/c they believed war would harm the German state, *not* out of moral opposition.
13/ Even these individuals had different trajectories. Some were broadly opposed to war. Others (many, in fact) were in favor of the invasion of Poland, but opposed to the invasion of France.
14/ Other resisters in the German military were not moved to join the resistance ranks until the invasion of the Soviet Union, which, regardless of how one felt about the morality of war, was clearly a tactical disaster, resulting in unsustainable damage to “The German Cause”
15/ Similarly, there were some who opposed the Holocaust on nationalistic grounds. To them, genocide was, perhaps, morally permissible, but was also harmful to Germany. Opposition was not in principle against genocide, but against the harm genocide could do to national interests.
16/ So, this is all to give a sample of some of the various motivations of groups who resisted Hitler, w/ a focus on those w/in the military, like von Stauffenberg. There were of course many other Germans who opposed Hitler out of more coherent objections to fascism & genocide.
17/ From what I know, The July 20th plot consisted mostly of German nationalists, including, of course, von Stauffenberg, who planted the bomb.
18/ By some accounts, some of the nationalists involved in the July plot opposed the German treatment of Jews and of prisoners of war. It must be acknowledged, however, that these actions were likely also taken for strategic reasons. (or even primarily, depending on your source)
19/ The tide of war had turned against Germany. There was Stalingrad, resulting in 100's of thousands of causalities. Allies were bombing German cities, cf: Operation Gomorrah, an attack on both crucial industries and civilian lives in Hamburg:
20/ I say all of this to put the July 20th plot in some context. I am sure there can be no complete or infallible account of the complete motivations all who were involved in the plot, including von Stauffenberg.
21/ There is evidence that many members of the plot may have had moral issues with the treatment of Jews and prisoners of war. We also know that many were not *in principle* opposed to persecution itself, but, perhaps, only to *how* genocide was specifically implemented by Hitler
22/ Overall, w/in history, determination of moral reasoning can be problematic, Frequently, we must chiefly rely on accounts of conversations or even dubious first-hand claims, such as those made under immense pressure in situations like Nuremberg.
23/ However, in the case of the July 20th plot, what’s less debatable is that we know many (most?) of the of the resisters involved were, in fact, nationalists w/ an authoritarian bent. We also know that Germany was being badly damaged by war, both within its borders and beyond.
24/ And we know, that Hitler was opposed by some on moral grounds, but also w/ strategic, nationalist motivations. We know that this specific group of resisters hoped to make peace w/ the Allied states, but also to maintain some of the territory they had seized during the war.
25/ We also know that the figures involved were. . . .complicated, by which I mean it would be incorrect to valorize them.
26/ For example, HV Tresckow was another leader in the July 20th plot. He was reportedly appalled by Kristallnacht, many years earlier, & wrote w/ horror about specific acts of genocide. Tresckow had also been long active in recruiting both civilians and officers to resist Hitler
27/ However, on June 28th, 1944, less than a month before the July 20th plot, HV Tresckow also signed an order to authorize the kidnapping of Polish and Ukranian children for the purposes of forced labor. This action was, rightly, determined to be an act of genocide at Nuremberg.
28/ Additionally, as instrumental as the July 20th plot may have been in its primary motivations (Germany was a mess), historians have argued that von Stauffenberg and others were also aware of its symbolism.
29/ We also know that, before the plot, Stauffenberg asked Von Tresckow whether the assassination should be attempted, even if no purpose would be served by it. Von Tresckow responded. . . . .
30/ "For the practical purpose no longer matters; what matters now is that the German resistance movement must take the plunge before the eyes of the world and of history. Compared to that, nothing else matters."
31/ Historian Richard Evans argued that “Stauffenberg knew therefore that his bomb was important above all as a moral gesture. His intention in setting it off was to rescue the honour of the German people.” signandsight.com/features/1824.…
32/ The failure of the plot is beyond the purview of this thread. Basically, Stauffenberg put a bomb in a briefcase near Hitler and then left the room. It is believed that Heinz Brandt unwittingly moved the briefcase w/ his leg because he was trying to get a better look at a map.
33/ Crucially, Brandt is believed to have moved the briefcase towards the leg of the conference table: further from Hitler & also in such a position that the bomb would cause less damage. Brandt lost a leg in the bombing and died the next day. Hitler was only mildly injured.
34/ Here is a photo of Hitler's pants after the assassination attempt:
35/ Stauffenberg was apprehended at the Bendlerblock & executed the next day. Today, July 21, is the 75th anniversary of that execution. The Benderblock now serves as the German Resistance Memorial Center. gdw-berlin.de/en/site_of_rem…
36/ Finally, I'll add, again, that there were *many* German resistance movement, many of which which primarily concerned w/ humanitarian and/or democratic aims. These movements are also memorialized at the Bender Block in Berlin.
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