Angela Merkel pays tribute to army general who almost assassinated Hitler 75 years ago

Angela Merkel stands with German soldiers laying a wreath to honour the failed plotters
Angela Merkel stands with German soldiers laying a wreath to honour the failed plotters Copyright REUTERS
By Caroline Mortimer
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Angela Merkel paid tribute to Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg who was executed for his part in the plot to assassinate the Nazi leader and end the war in 1944


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has paid tribute to the military officials who plotted to kill Adolf Hitler on the 75th anniversary of the Second World War’s most famous failed assassination attempt.

A group of military figures lead by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg plotted to assassinate Hitler in 1944 before staging a coup to oust the Nazi party from power and sue for peace with the Allies.

Speaking at a memorial event, Merkel said: “Following their conscience, they proved themselves to be true patriots.

“They urge us to be vigilant and to confront racism and nationalism in all its facets.”

The remarks come amid the rise of Alternative for Germany which became the country’s largest opposition party in parliament with 91 out of 709 seats.

Germany has traditionally turned its back on far-right parties since the end of the Second World War but the start of the migrant crisis in 2016 and Merkel’s perceived “soft” response to it has hardened opinions against immigration.

Claus von Stauffenberg was executed within hours of the attempted attack

There has been a rise in violence linked to the far-right - including the murder of a senior politician from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, Walter Lübcke, in June in the central region of Hesse.

The plot, dubbed Operation Valkyrie, saw von Stauffenberg attend a military conference with Hitler and several top Nazi officials on 20th July 1944 at the “Wolf’s Lair” - Hitler’s first eastern front military headquarters in modern-day Poland - where he carried a bomb in a briefcase.

The plan was for von Stauffenberg to excuse himself from the meeting to use the bathroom where he detonated the device which he had placed near Hitler.

The bomb detonated, killing four people, but Hitler escaped with minor injuries as he was sheltered from the blast by the leg of the conference table.

Von Staufenberg and his fellow plotters were executed within hours of the attack and nearly 5,000 people were killed in the purge of the military that followed.

Just under a year later Hitler would kill himself as Allied tanks approached Berlin.

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