IB Internal Assessments relating to Sophie Scholl

What was Sophie Scholl’s Role within the White Rose?

Plan of Investigation (139 Words)
The purpose of this investigation is to examine the question: What was Sophie Scholl’s role within the White Rose? To answer this inquiry I will investigate the flyers written and distributed by the organization during its existence, visit the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich where its members had attended and which was the site where Sophoie Scholl and her brother were eventually apprehended; today it is recognised as an official memorial site to the White Rose and which will enhance the spatial understanding of the events. Furthermore I will read books such as Briefe und Aufzeichnungen (Letters and records), by Willi Graf, an active member of the White Rose. Additionally I will examine the flyers distributed by the resistance group as this was part of their main action and will allow insight into the ideas of the group and how they were conveyed, which will show how far Sophie Scholl was involved in these activities.
Summary of Evidence (648 Words)
Sophie Magdalena Scholl, born on the 9th of May, 1921 in Forchtenberg is known as a female resistance fighter against Hitler’s regime from 1941 onwards[1]. Sophie joined the “Bund Deutscher Mädchen” (BDM) in 1936[2], which was the equivalent of the Hitler Youth. Her opinion against Hitler only began to develop years later when she started the study of Biology and Philosophy in the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich in 1941[3].
Sophie joined the resistance group of the Weiße Rose, against the will of her elder brother who wanted to keep Sophie out of this issue[4]. The White Rose was founded in June, 1942 by Hans Scholl and his friends Christoph Probst and Alexander Schmorell[5]; it was supported by their university professor Kurt Huber[6]. The resistance of the members was of Christian motivation and was furthermore encouraged through their outrage against the deportation and treatment of the Jews and regiment opponents[7].
In June 1942 Alexander Schmorell and Hans Scholl began with the production of flyers against the regime and the events, which they have experienced and encountered at the front. The first four flyers where printed from the end of June until the middle of July and posted to a variety intellectuals in Munich[8]. When the young men returned from their ambulance service from July to October, they gave out the fifth flyer named Ausruf an Alle Deutschen, which was distributed in many south German and Austrian cities. In winter 1942 Sophie Scholl and Willi Graf joined the White Rose[9].
At the end of January 1942 the battle of Stalingrad was lost and the Germans became unsettled. Additionally all women were banned from University and on the 13th there was a student protest against the speech of Paul Giesler, who was the Gauleiter of the Munich NSDAP district[10]. These events encouraged the sixth flyer named Kommilitoninnen! Kommilitonen! that was able to be spread through Skandanavia and Britain, through the help of Helmuth von Moltke[11]. Friends of the White Rose began to distribute flyers in nearby cities and kept contact with the mother organization of Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell[12]. On the 3rd, 8th and 15th February “Nieder mit Hitler” and “Freiheit” was written on the walls of the Munich University and many other houses[13]. During the night the three male members had written the slogans with black tar and green oil paints[14].
In the summer of 1942 the Geheime Staats Polizei began to enquire about the flyers of the White Rose which had been rated as regime adverse attempt. These enquiries had been unsuccessful and where soon ended. In January 1943 the Gestapo reopened the case and ordered a special commission against the spread of the flyers in Munich. Additionally the Professor Richard Harder was employed as a specialist of rhetoric and philology to establish a perpetrator profile of the flyers.
The sixth and last flyer ended the opposition of the White Rose. Kurt Hubert had written it with the topic of the war politic against the Third Reich[15]. The Scholl siblings spread the flyers throughout Munich on the night of the 15th February, but as they had leftovers they decided to additionally spread them in their University on the 18th of February[16]. At the end of the tour Sophie Scholl emptied her flyers over the balcony of the second floor in the University Building; she was seen by Jakob Schmid and held there until the Gestapo arrived[17].
Sophie Scholl and her brother where sentenced to death on the 22nd of February[18]. Sophie Scholl’s sentence was fulfilled at five pm through the guillotine by the headsman Johann Reichart[19]. At the end of 1943 British planes spread the flyers of the White Rose over Germany with the new Title “A German flyer – manifest of the Munich Collegians”, showing the legacy which the group had become.
Evaluation of Sources
Leaflets 1-6, Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand ( Memorial Cite of German Resistance)[20] (260 Words)
The flyers written by the White Rose from June 1942 to February 1943 give direct insight on the intentions of the small organization. The flyers found in the “Gedenkstätte” are copies of the originals, which are now made accessible for the public and represented the resistance movement of the White Rose. The intention of the leaflets was to “convince the German nation, that the National Socialist were practicing a ‘Dictatorship of Evil’ and that the public needed to resist through ‘passive resistance’ and sabotage.”[21] Through this the White Rose was attempting to achieve a peaceful boycott of the National Socialist regime.
When looking at the six different flyers today the reader can comprehend their opinion on Hitler’s regime and how the population should rise against it. The copies of the flyers are helpful to understand Sophie Scholl’s role in the White Rose, as the authors are published on the side of the papers: when taking this into consideration it can be identified how far Sophie was involved in the process of writing the flyers, which is important as this was one of the main resistance attempts the White Rose did. The lack of Sophie Scholl’s role is shown as her name is not published on the flyers, which shows that she was not part of the writing process and that the influences came from other members.
Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl (The short Life of Sophie Scholl), Hermann Vinke[22]
This historical novel, published in 2007 in Berlin is no classical biography but far more a description of Sophie Scholl’s life period established from letters, interviews, photographic material, reports and witnesses. It is written in a very basic way intending to give thorough but coherent insight in Sophie’s life[23], which is stated by the author in his justification on why he wrote the book[24].
The source is useful to understand the event and the chronically happenings of the resistance but also to establish a connection to Sophie Scholl. It does not only embrace her participation in the White Rose but also gives an insight in her private life such as her relationship to Fritz Hartnagel. Even though it is filled with interviews and sources related to the time it does not go into depth and does not explain how far Sophie’s participation went. However when using it parallel to other sources it supports the understanding of the events through the easily obtained knowledge.
Analysis (708 Words)
This investigation will revise the orthodox view of Sophie Scholl’s role within the White Rose. The Scholl siblings are seen as two of the “real martyrs, whom have shown resistance against the NSDAP and the regime of Hitler”[25]. This is because of them taken action, as one of the first resistance groups and were not part of either a military or political organization. According to Saul Friedländer the siblings knew about the danger of their last flyer distribution and their upcoming death, yet they continued with their resistance, which makes them “the best that Germany had”[26]. As seen at the publication notes of the flyers of the White Rose, Sophie Scholl did not write parts of the publication of the flyers themselves, which already hints she did not play a great role in the resistance movement. As Dietmar Strauch mentions, Hans Scholl came up with the name “The White Rose”, which refers to his opinion of himself being an unwritten sheet of paper and the emotional influence of the “Rosa Blanca” by Brentano[27]. Furthermore Hans Scholl, together with Alexander Schmorrel, founders of the White Rose, did not want his younger sister Sophie to join the resistance movementand was only convinced by Sophie after his return from the front.[28] This shows that the foundation of the highly praised resistance group rests on the political ideas of Hans Scholl and his friend Alexander and was not by Sophie Scholl although she was willing to contribute.
Sophie Scholl and Willi Graf joined the White Rose in winter 1942. This was after four of the six flyers were already produced. Taking this into consideration it can be seen that two-thirds of the work, which is seen as the main resistance, had already been accomplished, which leaves only the remaining two flyers and their distribution that can be accountable for Sophie. However as already mentioned, Sophie Scholl has not been listed as one of the authors of the leaflets. According to Robert Kneschke this is not due to a mistake in the recordings or memories of her sister but simply, because although Sophie Scholl had the courage of distributing them she did not have the political persuading skills and due to this she did not contribute to the composing of the leaflets[29].
As the flyers were produced to convince the public of the wrongdoings of the National Socialists, the publishers try to give the nation an understanding of the happening events. To do so they reference from the experiences encountered at the Eastern Front; the young men observe how haggard Jewish women are forced into heavy labour and hear of mass executions of innocent people[30]. This shows that the main content has been thought of by the male members of the group, as Sophie Scholl was clearly not at the Front. According to Robert Kneschke the main difference between the Scholl Siblings, next to their religious view, was their activity in the White Rose. The difference can be seen due to Hans’ involvement in the publication of the flyers and the nocturnal graffiti activities, in which Sophie did not take part[31]. Sophie however supported the organization through the financial management and in helping with the production and distribution[32]. As the flyers and the nightly graffiti were the main components of the passive resistance this shows that Sophie Scholl did not play a great part in the resistance group.
Yet it took great courage and conviction to take part in the illegal activities of the White Rose. Although Sophie Scholl’s contribution was in the background she joined the distributions and with this extradited herself to the same danger as the other members of the group. When looking at the depth of the White Rose it was not only about contribution but about the strength of the members. On the 22nd of February the guards were impressed by the strength of the three young people, when the execution had ended the headsman reported that she died without a word of regret and with strength in her eye – he had never seen someone die like her before; her brother shouted “Es lebe die Freiheit” (Long live the freedom) – both supported their beliefs up to their death[33].
Conclusion (77 Words)
Although Sophie Scholl did not write the leaflets nor did she take part in the nocturnal graffiti activities she was an important member of the group as she distributed the flyers and organized the activities from the background. In the end, the strength of a chain is its weakest link, and as the White Rose is one of the most important resistance groups, all members although having different assigned activities, they can be seen as being equal..
Bibliography of Sources
Bald, Detlef. Die "Weisse Rose": Von Der Front in Den Widerstand. Berlin: Aufbau-Taschenbuch, 2004. Print.
Blaha, Tatjana. Willi Graf Und Die Weisse Rose: Eine Rezeptionsgeschichte. München: Saur, 2003. Print.
Burianek, Irmtraud Eve. München Im Luftkrieg 1942 Bis 1945: Bomben Auf Die Hauptstadt Der Bewegung. GRIN Verlag, 2009. Print.
DiCaprio, Lisa, and Merry E. Wiesner. Lives and Voices: Sources in European Women's History. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print.
Dorscheid, Andrea. Die Weisse Rose- Mit Einer Abhandlung über Den Gang Und Stand Der Einschlägigen Forschung. GRIN Verlag, 2011. Print.
Dumbach, Annette E., and Jud Newborn. Sophie Scholl and the White Rose. Oxford: Oneworld, 2007. Print.
Friedländer, Saul, Jan Philipp. Reemtsma, Andreas Heldrich, Christian Ude, and Christoph Wild. Gebt Der Erinnerung Namen: Zwei Reden. München: Beck, 1999. Print.
Graf, Willi, Anneliese Knoop-Graf, and Inge Jens. Briefe Und Aufzeichnungen. Frankfurt Am Main: S. Fischer, 1988. Print.
Gruss, Theresa. "Die Rede: Sprachliche Mittel Beispiele | Deutsch." Frustfrei-Lernen.de. 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. .
Hartnagel, Fritz, Thomas Hartnagel, and Sophie Scholl. Damit Wir Uns Nicht Verlieren: Briefwechsel 1937 - 1943. Frankfurt Am Main: Fischer, 2006. Print
Hüttemann, Inge. Das Sechste Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print
Kaufmann, Sabine, and Meike Meyer. "Planet Wissen - Weiße Rose." Planet Wissen - Startseite. WDR, 01 June 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. .
Kneschke, Robert. Die Weiße Rose- eine Widerstandsgruppe in geschlechtergeschichtlicher Perspektive. GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print.
Krabbe, Wolfgang R. Kritische Anhänger--unbequeme Störer: Studien Zur Politisierung Deutscher Jugendlicher Im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: BWV, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2010. Print.
Scholl, Inge. Die Weiße Rose. Frankfurt a. M. 1982, P. 96-121.
Strauch, Dietmar. Ihr Mut War Grenzenlos: Widerstand Im Dritten Reich. Gulliver, 2006. Print.
Vinke, Hermann. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl: Mit Einem Interview Mit Ilse Aichinger. Otto Maier, 1987. Print.
Vinke, Hermann. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl. [Ravensburg]: Ravensburger Buchverlag, 2007. Print
White Rose. Erstes - Sechstes Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. Berlin: White Rose, 1995. Print.

[1] DiCaprio, Lisa, and Merry E. Wiesner. Lives and Voices: Sources in European Women's History. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print. Page 527.
[2] Vinke, Hermann. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl: Mit Einem Interview Mit Ilse Aichinger. Otto Maier, 1987. Print. Page 59.
[3] Krabbe, Wolfgang R. Kritische Anhänger--unbequeme Störer: Studien Zur Politisierung Deutscher Jugendlicher Im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: BWV, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2010. Print. Page 123.
[4]Dorscheid, Andrea. Die Weisse Rose- Mit Einer Abhandlung über Den Gang Und Stand Der Einschlägigen Forschung. GRIN Verlag, 2011. Print. P.53
[5] Hüttemann, Inge. Das Sechste Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print. Page 4.
[6] Ibidem.
[7] Bald, Detlef. Die "Weisse Rose": Von Der Front in Den Widerstand. Berlin: Aufbau-Taschenbuch, 2004. Print. Page 162.
[8] Hüttemann, Inge. Das Sechste Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print. Page 5.
[9] Ibidem.
[10] Burianek, Irmtraud Eve. München Im Luftkrieg 1942 Bis 1945: Bomben Auf Die Hauptstadt Der Bewegung. GRIN Verlag, 2009. Print. Page 9.
[11] Scholl, Inge. Die Weiße Rose. Frankfurt a. M. 1982. Print. Page 30.
[12]Blaha, Tatjana. Willi Graf Und Die Weisse Rose: Eine Rezeptionsgeschichte. München: Saur, 2003. Print. Page 45.
[13] Hüttemann, Inge. Das Sechste Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. GRIN Verlag, 2007. Print. Page 6.
[14] Ibidem
[15] Ibidem
[16] Ibidem.
[17] Ibidem
[18] Dumbach, Annette E., and Jud Newborn. Sophie Scholl and the White Rose. Oxford: Oneworld, 2007. Print.Page 112.
[19] Hartnagel, Fritz, Thomas Hartnagel, and Sophie Scholl. Damit Wir Uns Nicht Verlieren: Briefwechsel 1937 - 1943. Frankfurt Am Main: Fischer, 2006. Print. Page 239.
[20] White Rose. Erstes - Sechstes Flugblatt Der Weißen Rose. Berlin: White Rose, 1995. Print.
[21] Gruss, Theresa. "Die Rede: Sprachliche Mittel Beispiele | Deutsch." Frustfrei-Lernen.de. 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. .
[22] Vinke, Hermann. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl. [Ravensburg]: Ravensburger Buchverlag, 2007. Print.
[23] Ibidem. Page 2
[24] Ibidem.
[25] Friedländer, Saul, Jan Philipp. Reemtsma, Andreas Heldrich, Christian Ude, and Christoph Wild. Gebt Der Erinnerung Namen: Zwei Reden. München: Beck, 1999. Print. Page 27.
[27] Strauch, Dietmar. Ihr Mut War Grenzenlos: Widerstand Im Dritten Reich. Gulliver, 2006. Print. Page 57.
[28] Graf, Willi, Anneliese Knoop-Graf, and Inge Jens. Briefe Und Aufzeichnungen. Frankfurt Am Main: S. Fischer, 1988. Print. Page 210.
[29] Kneschke, Robert. Die Weiße Rose- eine Widerstandsgruppe in geschlechtergeschichtlicher Perspektive. GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print. Page 16.
[30] Kaufmann, Sabine, and Meike Meyer. "Planet Wissen - Weiße Rose." Planet Wissen - Startseite. WDR, 01 June 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. .
[31] Kneschke, Robert. Die Weiße Rose- eine Widerstandsgruppe in geschlechtergeschichtlicher Perspektive. GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print. Page 67.
[32] ibidem
[33] Vinke, Hermann. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl. [Ravensburg]: Ravensburger Buchverlag, 2007. Print. Page 28.

Were the 6 leaflets produced by the members of the White Rose primarily influenced by their Christian beliefs?
Section A – Plan of the Investigation – 145 words
I am going to use the six leaflets that were produced by the White Rose as a primary source to determine, whether the actions by the White Rose were predominantly influenced by their Christian beliefs. I am also going to use the very recent Sophie Scholl - Biographie by Barbara Beuys. Furthermore, I will use historians such as Kershaw, J. Evans and H. Kater to investigate a non-German perspective on the matter. In addition, I will contact the White Rose foundation directly for further information concerning the religious influence. Furthermore, I will be using Die Weiße Rose by Inge Aicher-Scholl, Hans and Sophie’s sister, who offers the siblings’ diary entries and letters. I will be focusing on the Scholls, as well as Christoph Probst, Willy Graf, Professor Kurt Huber and Professor Carl Muth as these are the crucial members and initiators of the resistance group.

Section B – Summary of evidence – 488 words
Hans and Sophie Scholl were baptized as Protestants, and spent their lives as non-practicing Christians.[1] Alexander Schmorell was born into a Russian Orthodox family and received the appropriate baptizing.[2] Christoph Probst was brought up believing in no specific religion. However, throughout the years he had started supporting the Christian belief and on his execution day was baptized and received the Holy Communion.[3] Willi Graf’s family was strictly Catholic and throughout his life he proved his passionate devotion to the Catholic Church by being an altar server and joining a Catholic student group.[4] At University Hans Scholl met Alexander Schmorell, with whom Hans initiated the creation of the student resistance group, the White Rose. This started off as innocent, apolitical discussion groups, and eventually turned into an active resistant movement. After a while, crucial members such as the university students Christopher Probst and Willy Graf, as well as the professor Kurt Huber became a part of the White Rose.[5]
Through Willi Graf, the members of the White Rose were introduced to the German writer and publisher of the religious magazine Hochland, Carl Muth in the fall of 1941.[6] The members of the White Rose, especially Hans spent days at his house; reading his books and listening to him speak. Through him Hans realized “the solution”, he started praying regularly again, and stated that “in this year Christ was reborn for him”.[7] Through Muth the members met Theodor Haecker, a German writer who was a locum of the Catholic existentialism.[8] “Their Christian message became the criteria for their thoughts and actions.”[9]
Between the end of June and the middle of July, 1942, the first four leaflets were created and sent anonymously to addresses in Munich. “Leistet passiven Widerstand, wo immer Ihr auch seid!“[10] was the message of the first leaflet, ordering that passive resistance shall be shown in every situation, a message that was supported in the other three leaflets. The second leaflet focused on the ongoing mass murder of the Poles and the Jews.[11] In the summer of 1942, Sophie Scholl joined the White Rose, and between January 27th and 29th, 1943, the fifth leaflet appeared. Its message:”Hitler kann den Krieg nicht gewinnen, nur noch verlängern.”[12] During January 1943 the group participated in discussion rounds with Christoph Probst’s father-in-law, Harald Dohrn, who strongly spread the idea that National Socialism limits the freedom of the Catholic Church.[13] At night these students produced up to 9000 copies of the leaflets, and sent these to six larger German and Austrian cities.[14]
The events of the German defeat in Stalingrad at the beginning of 1943, as well as the speech given by Gauleiter Gießler on January 13, 1943, in which he publically offended female students, triggered the creation of the sixth leaflet[15]. This leaflet encouraged an uprising against Hitler’s dictatorship by the youth. Between the 3rd and the 16th of February 1943, the members of the White Rose distributed their sixth leaflet.[16]
Section C – Evaluation of Sources – 453 words
6 Leaflets produced by the White Rose[17]
The six leaflets which were composed, printed and distributed between the end of June 1942 and February 18th, 1943 by the members of the White Rose were their method of resisting against the Nazi regime. They were created to encourage passive resistance against Hitler by the public, as well as informing these of events happening on the Eastern Front.[18] The idea for these leaflets originated from personal experiences of the members at the war fronts, of conversations with professors, the individual history of the members, as well as their rebellious personalities. This source is crucial for this research paper, as I am trying to determine if the catholic beliefs had any effect on the origin of these leaflets or the development of the content. This source is extremely valuable, as it is the edited and finalized original of what the White Rose wanted to distribute to the public. This enables us to observe and understand what their aims and thoughts were, what they were based upon and where they were leading to. The German original versions of these leaflets will offer no limitation through distortion of meanings and interpretations through translations. Because this research paper is based on this primary source, it is of great value to it, and can therefore not offer many limitations, apart from personal interpretations. When looking at the Catholic influence however, a limiting factor is that one has to interpret and analyze the leaflets in order to conclude any influential religious aspects, as it is not clearly stated in the texts, but rather suggested in the language of the leaflets.
Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage, Fred Breinersdorfer
Published in 2005, Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage is more than just a book accompanying a movie. “It describes the settings, the historic environment and the conditions for the creation of the White Rose.”[19] Fred Breinersdorfer himself stated that through this book as well as the movie, he “wanted to inform and educate the German public of the courage shown by young German adults through resistance against the feared Nazi regime.”[20] This source has a great value when attempting to answer this research question, as it contains thorough and detailed bibliographies of all crucial influences and members of the White Rose, including the religious commitments of each person. Another valuable aspect of this source is that it includes many to date unpublished historical documents and recordings, which increases the reliability of the given information. A limitation of this source is that the book is focusing on Sophie’s last days, which does not necessarily include the creation of all leaflets. The source includes a lot of valuable and crucial information on this topic; however the source is not limited to the Christian influence on the 6 White Rose leaflets.
Section D – Analysis – 787 words
Germans today use the White Rose as proof of resistance during their darkest time. Ian Kershaw describes its actions as a “highly courageous act of defiance”[21] aiming to raise awareness about the “criminal inhumanity of the regime”[22], attract new supporters and to resist National Socialism. Richard Evans agrees, adding its aims were "to rouse popular opinion so that the masses would rise up and bring an end to the war by overthrowing Hitler and his regime"[23] out of a hatred towards the regime's "racism and its antisemitism, its restrictions on personal freedom, and above all the extreme violence it unleashed on the Eastern Front.”[24] However, such representations from today's leading historians appear to disregard their main ambition - to preserve and recreate the belief and support for the Church reflected in their actions and specifically in the content and language of their leaflets.
All members of the group either had strong Christian beliefs and background or converted to Christianity before their death. The letters to the Scholl family from the children show that “the religious understanding of the siblings gained, under the influence of Carl Muth, intensity and a concrete reference.[25] This involvement with Muth as well as Haecker can be seen in the first leaflet comparing Hitler to an “insatiable daemon” and an “atheist war machine”[26] written right after encounter with both. However, such biblical references would not have needed any great Catholic background, as such language is now commonplace. This is different in the second leaflet where the murder of the Jews is described as “the most appalling crime to the dignity of a human being”[27], a clear reference to the fifth commandment. The "claim that the Jews might deserve such a fate is a monstrous presumption” [28] also evokes “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”[29] The Second Leaflet also mentions that it is our responsibility to act in “shaking off the yoke which weighs on our world” [30], in order for us to be “cleansed by suffering” [31] which refers to 1 John 1:9[32]. At closer observation, this could serve as a metaphor for the inhumane actions of the Nazis and the devastating impact these are having on the world. It further conveys the religious importance of realizing one's mistakes and rectifying them. This idea of recompensing the wrong is linked to the driving force of the actions of the White Rose. Therefore, whilst the destruction of the NSDAP was a motive, the religious guidelines and ideas were their main intended messages.
The third leaflet is “theologically argumentative.”[33]. It mentions the “dictatorship of the evil” and the “offspring of hell”, relating these to Satan.[34] Blame and God’s will are the main themes, as well as the wish to create a state closely reflecting the “civitas dei”, a Christian theocracy.[35] This highlights the idea that the White Rose wanted to be religiously creational, rather than violently destructive. “The religious relevance in Scholl’s thinking is clearly illustrated in the fourth leaflet”[36] and theology is used as a foundation in their justification of their resistance. Hitler is characterized as “the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan” and his mouth is described as “the foul-smelling maw of Hell”. The White Rose claims that anyone who previously did not believe in the existence of demonic powers will be convinced through the war which is fought against the “messenger of the Antichrist”.[37] Hitler being the satanic power is an image that extends through most of this leaflet, describing the Germans to be helpless without the aid of the real God. The belief of the White Rose in the power of religion is demonstrated in its declaration that “[o]nly religion can reawaken Europe, establish the rights of the peoples, and install Christianity in new splendor visibly on earth in its office as guarantor of peace.”[38] The members were aware that their group did not have the power to save Europe from the horrors of the Nazi regime; however, they strongly believed that by contacting the public and spreading awareness about the power of religion, they would have made the necessary start of reawakening Earth. Summarized by the German Historians Benz and Pehle, “apocalyptic text passages from the bible were incorporated into the leaflets[39]. According to the Catholic Peace Fellowship, “we can never know how large an impact theology and faith had on the actions of the members of the White Rose, but we can be sure that it was significant.”[40]

February 4th, 2012 Alexander Schmorell was sainted by the Russian-orthodox Church. Nikolai Artemoff, the Archpriest of the Munich cathedral, states that Alexander Schmorell “did not just take comfort in religion, but furthermore from his belief carried out resistance”.[41]

Section E – Conclusion – 126 words
Concluding from the analysis of the evidence, the Christian beliefs and interests of the members of the White Rose, as well as of their mentors Muth, Haecker and Huber left clear traces in their leaflets. The use of specific Christian terms, as well as the close reference to biblical passages found in the leaflets, demonstrates an evident influence of Christian belief on the actions of the White Rose. The sources offered by family members of the group suggest that their thoughts and actions were based on the Christian ideas. The influence of religion was influential and significant to the creation of the leaflets, however we cannot be certain how large of an impact it had and if it was indeed the primary influence on the members.
Section F – Sources and Word Count
Word Count: 1999
Beuys, Barbara. Sophie Scholl Biografie. München: Hanser, 2010. Print.
Breinersdorfer, Fred and Ulrich Chaussy. Sophie Scholl: Die Letzten Tage. Frankfurt Am
Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 2005. Print.
Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich at War. New York: Penguin, 2009. 628. Print.
Herder, Raimund. Wege in Den Widerstand Gegen Hitler. Freiburg, Br.: Herder, 2009. Print.
Hildebrandt, Irma. Bin halt ein zähes Luder 15 Münchner Frauenporträts. München: Piper,
2006. Print.
Hüttl, Sebastian. Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus. Norderstedt, 2011. Print.
Kater, Michael H. Hitler Youth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. Print.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999. 101. Print.
Scholl, Inge. Die Weisse Rose. Copenhagen: Aschehoug, 1995. Print.
Steffahn, Harald. Die Weisse Rose: Mit Selbstzeugnissen Und Bilddokumenten. Reinbek Bei
Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1993. Print.
Vinke, Hermann. Das kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl. Ravensburger, 1987. Print.
Wolf, Wolfgang and Walter H. Pehle. Lexikon Des Deutschen Widerstandes. Frankfurt Am
Main: S. Fischer, 1994. Print.
Zankel, Sönke. Mit Flugblättern Gegen Hitler: Der Widerstandskreis Um Hans Scholl Und
Alexander Schmorell. Köln: Böhlau, 2008. Print.
Cussen, Brenna. "CPF - The White Rose Martyrs." Welcome to Catholic Peace Fellowship.
Web. 10 Nov. 2011. .
"Shoah Project - Die Weiße Rose - Flugblätter." Shoah Project Titelseite. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.
Weiße Rose Stiftung E.V. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
Wetzel, Jakob. "Alexander Von München." München: Alexander Schmorell Heilig
Gesprochen. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 5 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

[1] Breinersdorfer, Fred and Ulrich Chaussy. Sophie Scholl – Die letzen Tage. Frankfurt Am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 2005. pg. 91
[2] ibid., pg. 98
[3] ibid., pg. 110
[4] ibid., pg. 122
[5] Cussen, Brenna. "CPF - The White Rose Martyrs." Welcome to Catholic Peace Fellowship. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
[6] Kater, Michael H. Hitler Youth, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. pg. 121
[7] Steffahn, Harald. Die Weiße Rose: Mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt. 1993. pg. 50
[8] Benz, Wolfgang und Walter H. Pehle, Lexikon des deutschen Widerstandes. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1994. pg. 317
[9] Steffahn, op.cit., pg. 59
[10] Steffahn, op.cit., Pg. 74
[11] Herder, Raimund. Wege in den Widerstand gegen Hitler. Freiburg, Br.: Herder, 2009. pg. 53
[12] Beuys, Barbara. Sophie Scholl – Biografie. München: Hanser, 2010. pg. 65
This translates as: ‘Hitler cannot win this war, he can only prolong it.’
[13] Zankel, Söhnke. Mit Flugblättern gegen Hitler: Der Widerstandskreis um Hans Scholl und Alexander Schmorell. Köln: Böhlau, 2008. pg. 348
[14] Hüttl, Sebastian. Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus. Norderstedt, 2011. pg.7
[15] Vinke, Hermann. Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl. Ravensburger, 1987. pg. 159
[16] Hildebrandt, Irma. Bin halt ein zähes Luder – 15 Münchener Frauenporträts. München: Piper, 2006. pg. 203
[17] "Shoah Project - Die Weiße Rose - Flugblätter." Shoah Project Titelseite. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.
[18] Scholl, Inge. Die Weiße Rose. Copenhagen: Aschehoug, 1995. pg. 97
[19] Breinersdorfer, op.cit., pg.2
[20] Breinersdorfer, loc.cit.
[21] Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999. pg. 101
[22] idib., pg.101
[23] Idib., pg. 629
[24] Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich at War. New York: Penguin, 2009. pg. 628
[25] ibid., pg. 59
[26] Scholl, op.cit., pg.77
[27] Weiße Rose Stiftung E.V. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
[28] "Shoah Project - Die Weiße Rose - Flugblätter." Shoah Project Titelseite. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.
[29] John 7:53-8:11 Bible (King James Version)
[30] Steffahn, op.cit., pg. 134
[31] Steffahn, op.cit., pg. 134
[32] 1 John 1:9 Bible (King James Version)
[33] Zankel, op.cit., pg. 265
[34] Ruth Bernadette Melon, Journey to the White Rose in Germany, pg. 101
[35] "Shoah Project - Die Weiße Rose - Flugblätter." Shoah Project Titelseite. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.
[36] Zankel, op.cit., pg. 265
[37] Michael H. Kater, op.cit., pg. 131
[38] Weiße Rose Stiftung E.V. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
[39] Benz und Walter H.Pehle, op.cit., pg. 316
[40] Cussen, Brenna. "CPF - The White Rose Martyrs." Welcome to Catholic Peace Fellowship. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
[41] Wetzel, Jakob. "Alexander Von München." München: Alexander Schmorell Heilig Gesprochen. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 5 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

An Investigation into the evidence to how Sophie Scholl contributed to the White Rose Residence Group

Section A: Plan of Investigation
This investigation will answer the question: How did Sophie Scholl contribute to the White Rose? In order to answer this question I will visit the Ludwig-Maximilian University which is now seen as the official memorial site for the White Rose as Sophie Scholl and brother attended the LMU in Munich. There I will have access to dedicated archives, which were made available by the White Rose.
I will also focus on literature such as “Sophie Scholl and the White Rose” by Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn and “Die Weiße Rose” by Inge Scholl. This Source will give me close insight to Sophie’s personal life as the book was written by her older sister. This investigation will also include information from a  biography on Sophie Scholl written by Barbara Beuys, she includes many aspects of her overall personality and character which one can relate to her contribution in the White Rose.

Section B: Summary of Evidence
Sophie Scholl:
·      Sophie Scholl was born on the 9th of May 1921 into a religious Christian family. [1]
·      During her academic career she and her brother, Hans Scholl, believed in the Nazi Ideology. [2]
·      In 1939 she entered the “Bund Deutscher Mädel”, an organization created for the Hitler youth.[3]
·      In 1940 Sophie Scholl began to oppose the Nazi regime. Sophie studied Biology and Philosophy in the Ludwig-Maximilian University.[4]
·      Through her brother, Hans Scholl, who studied Medicine in the LMU, she comes in contact with other students who encouraged the opposition against the Nazi regime. [5]
·      Against her brothers will Sophie Scholl entered the opposition party “Weiße Rose” created by her brother Hans Scholl. [6]
·      Mostly Christian students joined the White Rose because they were against the isolation of Jews.

The White Rose:
·      In 1942 Hans Scholl, Christoph Probst and Alexander Schmorell founded the “White Rose”[7], one of the few German groups that spoke out against the Nazi regime. Later on, Sophie Schroll and Willi Graf also joined the group. [8]
·      Nazi tyranny and the apathy of the Germans in the face of the Nazi crimes outraged idealistic members of the White Rose. They had heard about the mass murder of Polish Jews. “Hans and Sophie Scholl believed differently. They believed that it was the duty of a citizen, even in times of war, to stand up against an evil regime, especially when it is sending hundreds of thousands of its citizens to their deaths.” [9]
·      Between June and July 1942 the White Rose produced four “Flugblätter der Weißen Rose” (Flyers of the White Rose), each printed about 100 times[10], they were send to specific addresses which the members of the white rose knew of. [11]
·      In January 1943 the fifth flyer was created, was printed between 6,000 to 9,000 times[12]  (“Ausruf an alle Deutsche”) it was send to different cities in South Germany and Austria. [13]
·      In February 1943 the White Rose residence group painted on buildings and wrote slogans such as “Nieder mit Hitler”, “Hitler Massenmörder” und “Freiheit”[14] all over town. [15]
·      The sixth flyer focused on the war politics and was also created in February, it focused on the students in universities to stand up against the Nazis. [16]
·      Shortly after the sixth flyer was released the Secret State Police (“Geheime Staats Polizei”) was alarmed and tried to track it down, however with no success.
·      In 1943 Gestapo became aware of the case and reopened it. [17]
·      Sophie and Hans Scholl were seen spreading the flyers in their university, Sophie was seen on the balcony of the university when Gestapo was altered.
·      The Siblings were sentenced to death on the 22nd of February, Sophie Scholl was at the age of 21. [18]
·      Other members such as Graf, Schmorell and Huber were also sentenced to death on the 19th of April 1943. [19]
·      With the help of Helmuth von Molke 1.5 million copies of the sixth flyer were spread by British planes in autumn 1943, which showed the achievement of the opposition group. [20]

Section C: Evaluation of Sources

Source 1: Die Weiße Rose, Inge Scholl
The Orgin of this literature was Inge Scholl, she was born 1917, and was the sister of Sophie and Hans Scholl. After the second world war she wrote the book “Die Weiße Rose” the purpose of this was for a memorial towards her siblings. The novel is significant as it gives close insight to the background of Sophie Scholl and therefore explains the reasons why her and her brother Hans Scholl were so dedicated to the White Rose. Another value of it, is that it explains the aims and actions of the organization and therefore tells the reader what impact Sophie Scholl had on the White Rose. The novel gives the reader a lot of insight into her private life it discusses the relationships she had with the members of the White Rose as well as her life out side of the organization.[21] Even though the book gives a highly amount of detail in Sophie Scholl’s action in the White Rose, one limitation of it is that it does not focus very much on other important members, therefore the source might focus too much on the background she had with her family and not as much on her actual role in the organization. One could also argue that Inge Scholl being the sister of Sophie Scholl would not be able to critize Sophie’s actions, this would therefore a limitation of the source.

Source 2: 1-6 Flyers from the White Rose
The Flyers created by the White Rose showed their perspective and opinion towards the Hitler regime. These Flyers are today still found in the ‘Gedenkstätte’ in Munich, the original Flyers have been copied and are now available for everyone to see.
The purpose of the White Rose members was to convince as many Germans as possible that the aims of the Nazis were wrong and that Hitler was trying to create[22] “Eine böse Diktatur”[23]
When reading the Flyers now, one can see the opinion the White Rose members had on Hitler and for what reasons the country should become one and rise against it. When looking back at the research question: How did Sophie Scholl contribute to the White Rose? The Flyers give a valuable answer. As the Flyers make it easier to understand what impact Sophie Scholl had on the White Rose. On the original Flyers, names had been published of the members of the White Rose that created a specific flyer, however Sophie’s Name was not found in any of the Flyers. This means that she was not responsible for writing and creating the flyers. However Sophie Scholl was still an active and important member as she was part of spreading the flyers around the country as well as painting the walls and building with quotes against Hitler and the Nazi Regime. Therefore she still made a huge impact on the White Rose, as she had been the one searching for new members to join and to influence new potential members.

Section D: Analysis
When analyzing the research question stated above, how did Sophie Scholl impact the White Rose all aspects of the White Rose have to be considered. As stated before Sophie was not part in the publications of the Flyers, which proves that she did not have a great role in the residence movement.[24] It is also known that her brother Hans Scholl came up with the Name “The White Rose” due to his belief and other background information.[25] Therefore his younger sister Sophie also had no part in the foundation of the name. Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell were the founders of the White Rose and therefore also came up with the aims and the whole concept idea. [26]Also, Hans Scholl was against his sister Sophie joining the White Rose, it took her almost half a year to convince her brother to be part of the White Rose, and he only let her join after his return from the front. Still, the foundation and creation of the organization were made without Sophie.

Sophie Scholl only joined after the first four flyers were already released, which shows that the main part of the organization was already made before she was a part. Sophie showed her contribution in spreading the flyers around the country. However even when she was part of the White Rose, her name was still not listed on the Flyers, historian Sönke Zankel suspects that Sophie’s brother did not want to put her name up incase it would put her in even more danger. On the other hand it could also mean that she showed no contribution in writing the flyers as it is known that Sophie did not have enough experience to persuade people. To be able to persuade people, experience from the front is needed therefore only male members of the White Rose had that experience.

When comparing Sophie Scholl to her brother Scholl a clear difference can be seen in there actions. While Hans was responsible for the foundation, publication of flyers and graffiti in the city. Whereas Sophie was responsible for the financial management of the White Rose as well as spreading the flyers in universities. [27]Due to the fact that the production of the flyers and the graffiti around the city played the most important role of the White Rose and Sophie Scholl was not part of them shows that the male members of the organization might have had a bigger impact on the White Rose.

However Sophie Scholl still put herself into the exact same danger as any other member of the White Rose, and should therefore be treated with just as much respect. Both Hans and Sophie Scholl supported their belief until their death and are now treated and known with respect and Germany, several schools and streets have been named after Hans and Sophie Scholl. [28] As Sophie Scholl did not contribute in the major activities of the White Rose, she is still known as one of the bravest girls that ever existed in Germany. One could argue that this is because she was a young girl arrested and executed while fighting for what she believed in. Therefore she might stand out more compared to her older brother Hans Scholl, who was the one of founders of the White Rose.

Section E: Conclusion
In conclusion, even though Sophie Scholl did not take part in the main activities of the White Rose and rather worked in the background when handling the financial state of the organization, and her brother Hans Scholl being the founder of the organization, every member put himself in the same danger and can therefore be considered as being equally important even if being assigned into different positions.


Scholl, Inge. "Die Weiße Rose." Google Books. S. Fischer Verlag., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.

Dumbach, Annette. "Sophie Scholl and the White Rose." Google Books. One World Publications, n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

Wunderlich, Dieter. "Weiße Rose." Weiße Rose. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

"1921-1943." Biographie: Sophie Scholl,. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

"White Rose." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 20 June 2014. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

"1933-39." Weiße Rose. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

"Sophie Scholl Und Die "Weiße Rose"" Flugblatt II. N.p., 20 Apr. 2005. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

"Http://www.frustfrei-lernen.de/deutsch/die-rede-sprachliche-mittel-beispiele.html." N.p., n.d. Web

"Die Flugblätter Der Weißen Rose." AAKA -. N.p., 2006. Web. 01 Oct. 2014.

Heath, David. "Traces of Evil: IB Internal Assessments Relating to Sophie Scholl." Traces of Evil: IB Internal Assessments Relating to Sophie Scholl. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

Vinke, Hermann, and Inge Aicher-Scholl. Das Kurze Leben Der Sophie Scholl. Ravensburg: Ravensburger Buchverl., 1997. Http://www.ravensburger.com. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.

Rothemund, Marc. "Inhalt." Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 108.6 (2013): n. pag. Http://www2.burg-halle.de. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.

Beuys, Barbara. "Sophie Scholl Biographie." Google Books. Carl Hanser Verlag, n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

Hornberger, Jacob G. "Holocaust Resistance: The White Rose - A Lesson in Dissent." The White Rose. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

Kuhla, Karoline. "Geschwister Scholl: Erzogen Zum Widerstand - SPIEGEL ONLINE." SPIEGEL ONLINE. Spiegel Online, 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 01 Oct. 2014.

[1] Inge Scholl, Die Weiße Rose
[2] Jacob G. Hornberger, A Lesson in Dissent
[3] Scholl, Hans, and Sophie Scholl, Briefe und Aufzeichnungen
[4] Barbara Beuys, Sophie Scholl Biographie
[5] Inge Scholl, Die Weiße Rose
[6] Axelrod, Toby. Hans and Sophie Scholl: German Resisters of the White Rose.
[7] Ulrich Chaussy, Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tagec
[8] Dumbach, Annette E., and Jud Newborn. Shattering the German Night: The Story of the White Rose.
[9] Jacob G. Hornberger, A Lesson in Dissent
[11] Marc Rothemund, Sophie Scholl- Die letzten Tage
[12] Steffahn Harald, Die Weiße Rose Mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten
[13]  Bundes Zentrale für Politische Bildung
[14] “Down with Hitler”, “Hitler mass murderer” and “Freedom”
[15] Hütteman Inge, Das sechste Flugblatt
[16] Hütteman Inge, Das sechste Flugblatt
[17] Vinke Herrman, Das kurze Leben der Sophie Scholl
[18] Marc Rothemund, Sophie Scholl, die letzten Tage
[19] Dumbach, Annette E., and Jud Newborn. Shattering the German Night: The Story of the White Rose.
[21] Inge Scholl, Die Weiße Rose
[22] Bundes Zentrale für Politische Bildung, Flugblatt II, accessed 24.08.2014
[23] “An evil Dictatorship”
[24] Annete Dumbach, Sophie Scholl and the White Rose
[25] Chaussy, Ulrich, The White Rose: The Resistance by Students against Hitler 1942/43
[26] Hanser Richard, The Revolt of the Munich Students against Hitler
[27] Inge Scholl, Die Weiße Rose
[28] Schulzentrum Geschwister Scholl

Was the Gestapo involved in Georg Elser’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler on the 8th of November 1939?

A: Plan of Investigation

The exact motivations and planning of the bomb plot on the 8th of November 1939, are still today unclear. The following investigation will answer the question “Was the Gestapo involved in Georg Elser’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler on the 8th of November 1939?”  by taking into two contrasting views. With the view of Best, who argues that the Gestapo was indeed behind the plot, , and contemporary newspaper articles offering a completely different stance, the investigation will be able to holistically analyze all perspectives of the plot.  Supplementary to this, sources like the Official Gestapo Protocol of 1939 will be used. Additionally, being fluent in both English and German, the investigation will have access to a larger quantity and variety of sources, allowing a more nuanced conclusion to be reached.

B: Summary of Evidence

Evening of 8th of November
On the 8th of November, the sixteenth anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler traveled to Munich in order to hold a speech at the „Bürgerbräukeller“. Arriving at 20:00 with a group of 3000 supporters, Hitler began his speech at exactly 20:08. Hitler’s previous speeches had lasted two hours on average, however on this evening his speech was cut short due to a note addressed from Göring, in which it stated that Hitler should “shorten his speech” and return to Berlin “by the quickest means possible”[1]. Finishing his speech at 20:58 and leaving at 21:09 in order to catch a 21:31 train to Berlin, Hitler managed to get out of the Bürgerbräukeller prior to the powerful bomb detonation at 21:20. Apparently placed by carpenter Georg Elser, the bomb was hidden inside a “pillar that was a main support for the roof”[2].  The explosion lead to the death of eight individuals and the injury of sixty-three[3]. On the next day two British Agents operating for Germany in Holland, Agent Payne Best and Agent Stevens, were kidnapped by an SS-Officer called Walther Schellenberg who had been working with them undercover in Venlo. They were arrested under suspicions OF BEING INVOLVED WITH of the bomb plot, and ON at the same day Elser was arrested trying to cross the boarder Switzerland. Officials found evidence including plans and leaflets from FROM the Red Front Fighters[4], EXPLAIN MAYBE FOOTNOTE and “confessed to setting the bomb but refused to implicate anyone else”.[5]

Days after the Assassination Attempt and Joseph Goebbels.
On the days following the assassination attempt, rumors about the involvement of the British Secret Service[6], Communist Party[7] and even the Gestapo themselves began to surface. Writing in his personal journal following the Attentat, Joseph Goebbels stated “like the Reichstag fire, London and Paris is trying to blame this on us”[8].  Goebbels, with a noticeable increase of suspicion, noted  that the “real assassin behind the attack is a creature of Otto Strasser”[9] and that “Otto Strasser and the secret service are behind everything”[10].

Time at Dachau and Evolution of “Mythos Elser”
 Following his statement and confession of guilt, Elser was sent directly to the Concentration Camp “Sachsenhausen”. According to Best, he was treated in a “friendly manner” and was even allowed to smoke and see friends. Elser remained imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and was eventually transferred to the Dachau KZ. Elser, known in the camp under the name “Eller”, was supposed to be executed following the “Endsieg”[11] with Admiral Wilhelm Canaris in a show trial. With the Allied front moving in in 1945, Elser was sentenced to death with “Liquidierungsbefehl”[12] on the 5th of April, 1945. Executed on the 9th by SS-Oberscharführer Theodor Bongartz[13] only 20 days before the liberation of the camp. The fact that Elser was kept alive for six years following the Attentat and not executed in 1939 contributed to the suspicions of Gestapo involvement.

C: Evaluation of Sources

Captain Sigismund Payne Best’s book “The Venlo Incident”(1950)
A recollection of events, the book bases on Best’s memories of his time and eventual arrest  as an MI6 agent in Germany during World War II. With the aim to describe a “true story of double-dealing, captivity and a murderous Nazi Plot”, Best acts as a link to the conspiracy theory that the British Secret Service was behind the plot while at the same time hinting at the Gestapo’s involvement. Best was arrested and put into 5 years of solitary confinement due to the suspect that he was involved in the bomb plot. The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung’s article in 1939 called Best the “criminal mastermind” of the Georg Elser plot.

  A large section of the book includes a description of his relationship with Resistance-Fighter Elser and his observation of incidents in KZ-Sachsenhausen. In his writing, Best describes his observation of Elser and their dialogues.. Furthermore, a major limitation of the book is the shortage of evidence to support claims, such as the latter, made. Best admits in his book that he and Elser ““never met or spoke to each other.” The events in the book are described in great detail, which has lead to reviews calling the book “a fascinating story.”[14] These reviews that call the book a “story” indicate that Best may have exaggerated . In some reviews, he is even accused of “fabricating intelligence”[15] and his explanations consisting “anecdotes[16]”. Another major limitation lies within the fact, that the book is not about Elser, and that Best is a highly skilled diplomat, rather than a historian.

 As the book was published in 1950, Best was not able to use the files published in 2009 by the British Foreign Ministry on the Venlo Incident. With a large controversy with Best’s publication of names of British Intelligence officers, Best was given permission to publish his book by the had of the SIS, Steward Graham Menzies.  Initially planned to be published in 2015, Document “FO 371/23107” is considered one of the vital official files outside the Gestapo.

Front Page Newspaper, Berlin 22nd November 1939,  Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung  titled“Georg Elser the Murderer, Intelligence Service the commanders, Otto Strasser the Organiser”
In April 1945, the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung was the last German newspaper to still print daily papers. Known for its changing political stances over time, it was initially established by Heinrich Brockhaus with a conservative national/liberal perspective. With Hitler’s usurp of power, complete newspapers and articles oft he „DAZ“  were censored.  After being forced to hire national-socialistic editors and writers from Das Reich newspaper, “DAZ”[17] evolved to become a right-wing paper.  The aim of the newspaper article is to explain the events of the 8th of November and to offer an clarification to the public as to what who was responsible for the bomb plot.

 The newspaper article’s value lies with the fact that it reflects the spirit of the time and was a direct contemporary response to the explosion.  It is the information that the public received, and furthermore, one can identify a clear limitation with the restrictive nature of the NSDAP-controlled newspaper. The chief-editor in 1939, Karl Silex, was fired in 1943 as he was blamed for being be friends with Resistance-fighter  and plotter of the 20th of July Plot, Henning von Tresckow. Another obvious limitation of the article is the condition, under which it was published. Fourteen days after the bomb plot, and just having both the suspect Georg Elser, as well as two intelligence officers, the NSDAP was trying to figure how Elser could have gotten through with his plot. Furthermore, the article is trying to divert the focus from Elser’s  to the two British Officers, distorting the reader’s impression. It states that “the true criminals are those who plotted rather than those who planted the bomb”.

The statements made in the article involving the third-party involvement in the bomb plot were assumed to be  valid until 1969,  and the article is very useful for the study of Elser’s plot as it represents the knowledge and beliefs of the public until Anton Hoch’s  published the official Gestapo protocol in 1969, 30 years after the Attentat.

D: Analysis

As the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung portrays the plot of Georg Elser as the work of the “criminal masterminds” of the British Intelligence, the increase in information and files available have been vital to the entire investigation.

One of the principal points of evidence that suggests the Gestapo involvement is Sigismund Payne Best’s article in which he gives first hand evidence of Elser’s treatment and relationship with the Gestapo in the KZ Sachsenhausen and Dachau. Even though “never directly talking with Elser” Best claims that he was able to “establish relations with Elser” and that Elser told him through “many letters” his story. It is interesting how Best explains how Elser “admitted to planting the bomb in the pillar” but “denied that he had any accomplices.”[18] William Shirer supports Best’s beliefs by stating that Elser was told by the Nazis that it is “necessary to eliminate traitor’s of the party”. Hans Rothfels, ironically the publisher of Anton Hoch’s seminal article about Elser’s plot without third-party involvement, explains that without the Gestapo’s involvement “an installation as such would have never been possible.[19]”

Indeed, Elser’s unspectacular background as a carpenter has been the source of skepticism for his statement denying third-party involvement.  Best quotes in Sigmund Rascher, who after explaining the unlikelihood of Elser outsmarting the security of the SS, exclaims, “Everyone knew that it was a Gestapo fake”[20]. Best claims that the Gestapo arranged the Attentat on Hitler, and that he had been arrested after he had been “mixed up with a band of communists”[21]. Allan Bullock, agreeing to Rascher’s statement saying that  “the assassination on Hitler was organized by the Gestapo”[22] argues that its entire purpose was to “raise the Führer’s popularity[23]”. Roger Moorhouse agrees to the Bullock’s statement by saying that the DAZ-article specifically was aimed to “boost Hitler’s popularity.”[24]

The turning point of the theories involving the plot was the moment when Lothar Gruchmann was enabled access to 203 pages Gestapo Protocol files on the bomb plot of the 8th of November. Anton Hoch, who was the first to publish Gruchmann’s findings in his article in the “Viertelsjahrsheft für Deutsche Zeitgeschichte“in 1969. The information given in Hoch’s article is the source of modern-day historians’ knowledge on the Elser Attentat, making it, after the DAZ-article and Best’s book, one of the most valuable sources in the entire investigation.  Considering the limitations of both Best’s book, with the possibility of personal exaggeration in order to glorify personal experiences, and the censorship and conditions of the publication of the DAZ-article, the validity of the statements made in each can be questioned. With the personal examination of the official Gestapo Files in the Museum of German Resistance in Berlin, Georg Elser’s plotting without the Gestapo was proven by the documentation of his ability to completely reconstruct during interrogative conditions. Personally explaining in a step-by-step methodology, the Gestapo Protocol assures of Elser’s “solitary working[25]” backed up with James Duffy’s explanation of Elser “accomplishing the task by himself[26]”. After conducting a personal interview with controversial historian David Irving, he believes that “Elser was a lone assassin”, referring back to Anton Hoch’s 1969 article. Furthermore, with the 2009 publication of National Archives file “ FO 371/23107” in London on the case of Elser, reassurance that Elser worked by himself is ensured.

E: Conclusion

After carefully taking into perspective the reasoning for why the Gestapo may have been involved in the assassination attempt on the 8th of November 1939, the investigation will conclude with the acknowledgement of Elser’s working without the involvement of any third-parties. With the two conflicting views involving the plot, it can be observed that the argument, that Elser worked alone, can be supported by official documents and files. All other accounts rely, such as that of Best, rely on personal interpretations, speculations and do not have hard evidence as backing. The conducting of interviews and personal evaluation of documents that were not available to some historians, has avoided a nuanced result of the investigation.

With the careful analysis of sources and the consideration of current files and evidence, it has become apparent that Elser alone was capable of almost assassinating Adolf Hitler. Considering that the importance of Elser’s Attentat, it could not have only changed the lives of those falsely convicted, but could have also changed the entire German history.

1.  Allen, Martin. “Hidden Agenda” : Rowman and Littlefield, Print  2.  Best, Sigismund Payne. “The Venlo Incident”. 2009 ed. London: Pen & Sword, 1950. Print    3.  Bullock, Alan “Hitler; a Study in Tyranny” London: Odhams, 1952. Print.    4.  Duffy, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. “Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler” Print. Page 36    5.  Gisevius, Hans Bernd. “Bis Zum Bittern Ende” Zürich: Fretz Und Wasmuth, 1946. Print    6. Goebbels, Joseph. "Er Steht Doch Unter Dem Schutz Des Allmächtigen." Letter. 9 Nov. 1939. Http://www.georg-elser-arbeitskreis.de Web.      7. Good, Meaghan. "ExecutedToday.com." ExecutedToday.com. Web. .    8. Haasis, Hellmuth G. "Georg Elsers Ende Im KZ Dachau." Georg Elsers Ende- The Man Who Killed Elser.. .    9.  Hoch, Anton. "Das Attentat Auf Hitler Im Münchner Bürgerbräukeller 1939." Ed. Hans Rothfels and Theodor Eschenburg. Viertelsjahrsheft Für Zeitgeschichte [Stuttgart] Oct. 1969: 1-34. Print    10. Kershaw, Ian, Gerhard Von Spörl, and Klaus Wiegrefe. "Dem Führer Entgegen Arbeiten." DER SPIEGEL.. Web. 21 Aug. 2000. .    11. MacDonald, Callum. The Venlo Affair. Vol. 8. London: European Studies Review, 1978. Print    12. Malzahn, Claus Christian. "A German Hero: The Carpenter Elser Versus the Führer Hitler." SPIEGEL ONLINE. Web. .    13. Moorhouse, Roger. “Killing Hitler: The Third Reich and the Plots against the Führer” London: Jonathan Cape, 2006. Print.    14.  National Archives, “ Doc. No. FO 371/23107” Kew, London http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/details/C6429165?descriptiontype=Full&ref=FO+371/23107/item    15.  Official Rep. No. 19 November-22/3100 at 230 (1939). Print.Verhörprotokoll Gestapo (Gestapo Documents from the Reichsjustizministerum)    16.  Rothfels, Hans. “Die Deutsche Opposition Gegen Hitler. Eine Würdigung”. Frankfurt: 1949. 58-84. Print    17. Sicherheitspolizei, Deutsche. "Liquidierungsbefehl Georg Elser." 1945. TS. Berlin. Web. .    18.  Shirer, William L. “The rise and fall of the Third Reich; a history of Nazi Germany” New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960. Print.    19. West, Nigel. "Slightly Less Secret." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (2011). Web     [1] (Page 143)  Allen, Martin. Hidden Agenda. N.p.: Rowman and Littlefield, n.d. 142. Web.  [2] (Page 28) Duffyy2, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler. N.p Print.  [3]  (Page 31) Duffy, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler. N.p Print.  [4] „Roter Frontkämpfer-Bund RFB“, Kommunist Group established in 1924  [5] (Page 32) Duffy, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler. N.p Print.  [6] Mentioned in Best, Sigismund Payne. The Venlo Incident.  [7]  Argued by Malzahn, Claus Christian in "A German Hero: The Carpenter Elser Versus the Führer Hitler.", he states that for an individual like Elser, external political motivation must have been vital  [8] Goebbels, Joseph. "Er Steht Doch Unter Dem Schutz Des Allmächtigen." Letter. 9th  Nov. 1939.  [9]   Ibid  (Letter. 17th  Nov. 1939)  [10]   Ibid  (Letter. 19th  Nov. 1939)  [11] Term used by Adolf Hitler to describe the German victory of WWII  [12] Sicherheitspolizei, Deutsche. "Liquidierungsbefehl Georg Elser."  [13] Haasis, Hellmuth G. "Georg Elsers Ende Im KZ Dachau."  [14] Soldier Magazine Comment  "Pen and Sword Books: The Venlo Incident by Captain Sigismund Payne Best, Nigel Jones." Pen and Sword Books: The Venlo Incident by Captain Sigismund Payne Best, Nigel Jones. http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Venlo-Incident/p/2027/    [15] West, Nigel. "Slightly Less Secret." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (2011). Web    [16] I MacDonald, Callum. The Venlo Affair. Vol. 8. London: European Studies Review, 1978. Print  http://www.mythoselser.de/texts/macdonald.htm    [17] Abbreviation “DAZ”  frequently used to call the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung  [18] “  (P128) Best, Sigismund Payne. The Venlo Incident. 2009  London: Pen & Sword, 1950. Print.  [19] (Page 58) Rothfels, Hans. Die Deutsche Opposition Gegen Hitler. Eine Würdigung. 58-84. Print  [20] . (Page 187) Best, Sigismund Payne. The Venlo Incident. 2009 ed. London: Pen & Sword, 1950. Print.  [21] .  (Page 127) Page Best, Sigismund Payne. The Venlo Incident. 2009 ed. London: Pen & Sword, 1950. Print.  [22] (Page 572) Bullock, Alan. Hitler; a Study in Tyranny. London: Odhams, 1952. Print.  [23] Ibid  [24] (Page 53) Moorhouse, Roger. Killing Hitler: The Third Reich and the Plots against the Führer. London: Jonathan Cape, 2006. Print.  [25] Official Rep. No. 19 November-22/3100 at 230 (1939). Print.Verhörprotokoll Gestapo (Gestapo Documents from the Reichsjustizministerum)  [26] Duffy, James P., and Vincent L. Ricci. Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler. N Print.

How enthusiastic was Erwin Rommel about “Operation Walküre” in July 1944?

 Section A – Plan of Investigation              

 In October 1944, General Rommel was charged with supposed involvement in the Stauffenberg coup and given a choice: to be found guilty and executed through trial, or to take his own life; Rommel chose the latter.[1] But How Far did Rommel Support the Plot? To determine this, three aspects will be examined: an examination of the possible military involvement Rommel may have provided, his attitude towards the idea of assassinating Hitler, and the motives of his possible involvement or rejection of the Stauffenberg’s plans. A variety of sources will be examined. As a German, I have access to German-language articles, such as “Der Spiegel” to determine the latest controversy, as well as a British biography of Rommel, which includes interviews with Rommel’s son, and a variety of other accounts from letters to recordings of conversations from the time.  (138)

 Section B – Summary of Evidence 

Political and Public Standing  
Rommel,  regarded as  Hitler’s “favourite General,”[2] enjoyed great popularity within the National-Socialist government and the German people. [3] Göbbels used him for propaganda purposes, re-writing his life story as an early member of this Nazi party.[4]  In fact, considered politically unengaged, Rommel never joined the NSDAP, focussing solely on the military. He refused to allow his son Manfred to join the Waffen-SS, referring to rumours of mass-shootings and murders committed by the SS in the East. Rommel’s primary concern was to maintain or implement the honour, safety and success of his troops.[5] 
Clashes with Hitler  
In 1942, Rommel had defied Hitler’s orders concerning the battle of El Alamein of the Western Desert Campaign during the Second World War, in which his tank division fought against British General Montgomery’s troops, concerned that Hitler’s orders would worsen the situation for his troops in Egypt[6].  By 1944, Rommel was actively engaged against Hitler concerning the battle proceedings at the Western front.[7] In the same year, Rommel was made responsible for the prevention of the landing of allied forces as well as the Army Group B on the Western Front.[8] After D-Day Germany’s military situation changed drastically. Rommel desired peace negotiations with the enemy to end the war, and considered opening the front to let enemy forces trigger the overthrow of Hitler’s regime.[9] Speaking with Karl Strölin, mayor of Stuttgart at the time, Rommel declared he had to act in support of a “German rescue”.[10] This clashed severely with Hitler’s orders.[11] Operation Walküre  
Rommel was introduced to the plans of Operation Walküre and the following coup which aimed to bring about revolution[12] and hopefully end the war through negotiations with the enemy,[13] presenting an alternative to war for Rommel.[14]  During Colonel Lattman’s visit to Rommel in hospital, Rommel stated that war had to be ended under whatever circumstances,[15] leading Rommel to agree to meetings and talks with Stauffenberg’s men,[16] who required a popular face to represent the coup.[17] During a meeting with conspirator Caesar von Hofacker, Rommel stated that “Germany had made enough sacrifices” agreeing to collaborate with the plan and give support, according to the men Hofacker conversed with after the meeting.[18] Finally, the Eberbach Protocol supposedly records Rommel’s clear desire for the assassination of the Führer, reporting him as having said “there is no other opportunity for Germany other than to kill the Führer and his clanship as quickly as possible.”[19]  According to his son, Rommel was always strictly against an assassination[20], but supportive of a coup.[21] After the assassination failed, Rommel wrote to his wife expressing his shock at hearing about the attempt.[22] Rommel preferred the idea of putting Hitler on trial[23] as the General remained loyal to the dictator, owing him the success of his career.[24]  

 Section C – Evaluation of Sources   

Rommel – David Fraser, 1993, Original: Knight’s Cross: A life of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel   
Fraser, a British Army Officer who had served between 1940 and 1980 intended to investigate Rommel, with focus on his standpoint to Hitler. He aimed to determine to what extent he was a national-socialist and to what extent he was involved with the resistance against Hitler. The majority of the credentials are interrogations from during and after Hitler’s regime, testimonies as well as witness reports from several accused Generals and of those who knew Rommel and worked with him. Fraser also used interviews and explanations from Manfred Rommel, Rommel’s son, adding to the analysis. Peter Badastelli, describes Fraser’s work as "outstanding", tackling the myths through primary sources and accounts of those at the time.[25]  However, Fraser leaves the portrait of Rommel somewhat incomplete, by dedicating many chapters to general history of the time (although this is helpful in providing context). Fraser also does not write objectively, describing statements by Rommel to suggest active engagement in the resistance as weak or not giving similar attention to statements that imply otherwise. Most of his evidence relies only on the memories of people involved as well as second-hand translations from the original German which could affect nuance.

“Die Kraft des Bösen” (The Power of the Evil), Spiegel Edition Nr. 44/29.10.12, Jan Fleischhauer, Jan Friedmann   
Der Spiegel is a renowned German news magazine, which is sold worldwide and has become famous for having fought for freedom of the press in the late 1940’s, not unnecessarily embellishing important information, and for the unveiling of political affairs[26]. The purpose of the article is to inform the public about the General, who, although he was Hitler’s favourite, is never directly associated with being a Nazi and discusses the debate about his character - whether he should be considered a Nazi-criminal, or as the General who tried to end the war, defying Hitler’s orders in the process. The value of the article is the criticism with which the authors approach the myth of Rommel, as they do not make him a hero, but neither do they consider him a firm Nazi-General. Furthermore, it is vital to see how the propaganda figure during WWII is presented in the media today to understand his reputation then and now, as this can cloud perceptions of his involvement. Additionally, the article writes in hindsight, allowing for new evidence, in particular the Eberbach Protocol, which is missing from all other sources.  However, this article cannot be compared to an actual history book, as it is directed at a broad audience who may have limited understanding of history. By its nature, its investigation is much less in depth, presenting a broader view. 

 Section D – Analysis   The initial sources of conflict in answering this investigation lie in Goebbels's use of Rommel to create the perfect example of a Nazi-General, describing him in his diary as an “almost mythical figure.”[27] This makes it difficult to analyse Rommel, given his persona was increasingly manipulated for public purposes. As Fraser relies on opinions from the time, the article from Der Spiegel becomes all the more important, as it recognises this limitation and attempts to overcome it.  The plan itself had two intentions, a coup, and an assassination. The idea that Rommel saw the coup as his chance to end the war (which had been his intention since D-Day) is strongly debated [28]. The “Der Spiegel” article concludes that he was faithful to Hitler’s regime,[29] however concur that Rommel was never a member of the NSDAP, and therefore both the article and Fraser make it clear that Rommel never was and is still not seen as a real Nazi. His defiance of Hitler’s orders during the battle of El Alamein in 1942, and similar rejection of Hitler’s plans in 1944 on the Western Front could work with this to suggest his attitude towards the plans were positive.  Primarily, the conspirators saw the perfect face of the coup in Rommel, suggesting they tried to persuade him extensively. Several talks between the conspirators and Rommel took place,[30] in one of which he told Colonel Lattmann that the war had to be ended, under whatever circumstances.[31] Whether with “circumstances” Rommel simply meant a coup or the assassination is not clear, yet the word “whatever” implies that Rommel was capable of going to extreme lengths to end WWII. There had also been meetings in May, earlier that year between several resistors, in which Rommel agreed to collaborate, as “Germany had made enough sacrifices.”[32] Another meeting with conspirator Ceasar von Hofacker was held on the 9th of July[33]. According to the men Hofacker spoke to after the meeting, he informed Rommel about Stauffenberg’s assassination plans, the plans for the coup and revolution in Berlin. These men later stated that Rommel replied that the “war was lost anyway”, and gave his support.[34] This evidence, however, can be considered weak, as the content of the meeting between Hofacker and Rommel was never officially divulged by either participant. However, as this evidence was provided after 1945, fear of speaking out in support of Rommel should have been eradicated, lending slightly more weight to these allegations.   

For Rommel therefore, the Operation meant the end of the war and the possibility to save the last of German honour. This did not mean, according to Lieutenant Speidel, assassination of Hitler.[35] Clearly, Rommel experienced a clash between the two significant components of Stauffenberg’s operation. Most evidence presented in the sources agree Rommel was not anti-Hitler and did not support assassination. On July 21 Rommel was first informed about the attempted assassination by his adjutant Hellmuth Lang, who later described Rommel's clear shocked;[36] indeed, in a July 24 letter to his wife he declared “thank God that the assassination attempt failed”.[37] Although Fraser argues that Rommel had no choice but to speak out against the assassination in a letter that could be screened, Rommel appeared to prefer the idea of a trial for Hitler.[38]. Manfred Rommel has always maintained that his father had been strictly against an assassination[39] although whether his view on his father is objective is arguable as at the time of his father’s death he was only a teenager.  Further evidence for the General’s belief in the man to whom he owed his career were seen in his final days, where Rommel told the men in charge of his forced suicide that he “loved the Führer and still does”.[40] Whether it was an act of helpless self-defence, or to ensure the protection of his family, the truth cannot be known - but when Rommel was accused of holding back his tank division to support the coup, those who knew him, including Lieutenant Speidel, gave passionate testimonies in Rommel’s defence, stating these claims were incorrect.[41] This suggests that Rommel’s final testimony to his love of Hitler was not unsubstantiated, and he knew that there would be support to back up these words.  The only evidence that outright declares Rommel’s support of an assassination is referenced in Der Spiegel, discovered in 2005; the “Eberbach Protocol.” This record of his desire for an assassination of Hitler is based solely on what a British General overheard whilst listening in on a German officer in the autumn of 1944. [42] Although the Spiegel writes in hindsight, with access to evidence Fraser was not privy to, the tone of this statement and clear antipathy towards Rommel’s  “beloved” Hitler are not in accordance with the General’s normal manner.  Therefore it is not in line with the rest of the evidence provided by the bulk of sources. 

 Section E – Conclusion   

Rommel was clearly unhappy with Germany’s situation by 1944, especially after D-Day, and sought an end to the war. Appearing unwilling to participate in talks with resistors, one could say that he saw “Operation Walküre” as the opportunity to realize this. Clearly, one must determine his enthusiasm for such a plot by considering differentiate between its two components: the coup and the assassination. There is no clear evidence that suggests Rommel was strictly against a coup; several sources state that he saw it as a way to end war. The only evidence that suggests he supported an assassination is the “Eberbach Protocol”, which contradicts other pieces of evidence which otherwise agree that Rommel had always spoken out against an assassination. One can come to the conclusion that Rommel was enthusiastic about “Operation Walküre” in terms of the coup it would result in, and the positive consequences this would have on the army but less so about assassinating Hitler, and almost always made this point clear. 

 Section F – Works Cited   

Battistelli, Pier Paolo. Erwin Rommel: Leadership, Strategy, Conflict. Oxford: Osprey,  2010. Print.  Carell, Paul. Die Wüstenfüchse - Mit Rommel in Afrika. Berlin: Ulstein Buchverlage GmbH &              Ko. KG, 1971. Print.  Charles, Marshall F. Discovering the Rommel Murder: The Life and Death of the Desert Fox.              Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2002. Print.  "Der Spiegel." Süddeutsche Der Spiegel RSS. Sueddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH,              n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.               Dimbleby, Jonathan. Destiny in the Desert: The Road to El Alamein : The Battle That Turned              the Tide. London: Profile, 2012. Print.  Fleischhauer, Jan, and Jan Friedmann. "Die Kraft Des Bösen." Der Spiegel 44 (2012): 60-69.              Print.  Fraser, David. Rommel: Die Biographie. Berlin: Siedler, 1995. Print.  Horstmann, Harry. Walküre: Claus Schenk Graf Von Stauffenberg Der 20. Juli 1944.              Norderstedt: on Demand, 2008. Print.  Lieb, Peter. Konventioneller Krieg oder NS-Weltanschauungskrieg?: Kriegführung und  Partisanenbekämpfung in Frankreich 1943/44. München: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag GmbH, 2007  Mitcham, Samuel W. Retreat to the Reich: The German Defeat in France, 1944. Westport, CT:              Praeger, 2000. Print.  Remy, Maurice Philip. Mythos Rommel. München: List, 2002. Print.  Ueberschär, Gerd R. Stauffenberg – und das Attentat vom 20. Juli 1944. Frankfurt am              Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 2006  Watson, Bruce. Exit Rommel: The Tunisian Campaign, 1942-43. Mechanicsburg, PA:              Stackpole, 2007. Print.

Extended Essay:  
What were Stauffenberg’s aims for the Plot of the 20th of July 1944?

1.1 Introduction to Stauffenberg (410/500 Words)

The attempt by Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944 is unquestionably one of the most significant in the entire history of military resistance during the Second World War. In popular culture today, Stauffenberg’s intentions are glorified as he portrayed as a hero and a courageous man who fought against Tyranny for a democratic Germany.  Claus Schenk Stauffenberg’s life has been portrayed in various forms of media, ranging from books to movies. Stauffenberg is portrayed in films such as the “Valkyrie” by director Brian Singer, as a freedom-fighting, “chiseled jaw”[1] hero. Historian Richard J Evans believes however that this portrayal is a common misconception, and his words have lead to the following question: “What were Stauffenberg’s motivations for the Plot of the 20th of July 1944?”.

Before Stauffenberg’s Attentat (The German word “Attentat” translates into the English word “Assassination”) there had been various different attempts on Hitler’s life, ranging from that of Beppo Römer in 1934 to Georg Elser’s „Bürgerbräuattentat“ in 1939. Whilst each of the individuals had their own specific aims and reasons, almost all attempts to assassinate “the Führer” (Adolf Hitler was called this by the German Population) had one aim in common: removal of Hitler’s tyranny and his the military dictatorship.

1.2 Assassination Event 
            On the 20th of July 1944, at six in the morning, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg is picked up from his Villa in Berlin-Wannsee and is driven to Flugplatz Rangsdorf. From there he would continue to travel to a location in East Prussia that was known as “Wolfsschanze”, which can be directly translated into English as: “Wolfs-lair”. Stauffenberg is carrying the bomb in his briefcase with him on that day. According to “Der Spiegel”[2], the bomb-plot was planned for the 15th, not the 20th of July.  After arriving in Wolfsschanze, the planned meeting with Hitler is moved forwards from 13:00 to 12:30- just another item that was not planned or calculated by Stauffenberg.  The last-minute change of accommodation of the meeting from the Bunker to a room in one of the barracks would lead to the decrease of the effectiveness of the bomb. Originally placed direct beneath Hitler, the kicking over and moving of the brief case by an officer would lead to its displacement to the other side opposite side of the table. The action of the officer would lead to the survival of Hitler, and his survival is primarily due to the fact that he was protected a heavy oak table[3] that decreased the pressure. Unknowing of the fact that the Führer had only sustained minor injuries, Stauffenberg and those involved in the plot continued their plan, took control of Berlin by 17:00 and broadcasted that Hitler had been assassinated by a group of conspirators of Nazis. Shortly after the attack on Hitler’s life however, Joseph Goebbels managed to contact the Führer and confirmed his survival. At 23:00 o’clock Stauffenberg in addition to all his help were arrested, and Stauffenberg, Werner von Haeften as well as Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim were executed shortly after, without Trial. This event was the last attempt on Hitler’s life before the end of the war.

1.3 Significance of Assassination Attempt

There are only few moments in the history of the German Resistance, that have gained more attention than Stauffenberg’s attempt to kill Adolf Hitler. Looking at the event in retrospective, one is able to recognize various different aspects of the Attenat with information that was not available in the past. Reason for this would be the division of East-and West Germany, and many files were only discovered when the Archives were opened and the Wall had come down. It is extremely fascinating to observe how views of a man have changed over time, and how Stauffenberg is greatly idolized by the population due to popular culture and the influence of Hollywood movies. One is not allowed to overlook the fact that every assassination attempt on Hitler showed signs of his weakness, and that his totalitarian regime was failing by allowing Resistance to blossom. Stauffenberg, as a character of the German Resistance against Hitler has been scrutinized for what was called his “aristocratic principle”.[4] There has been a development in the way that contemporaries of today view the Resistance fighters of the Nazi-Era, many who solely attaining their information from one source. Giving a contemporary example would be the Hollywood Action Movie Valkyrie[5] with Tom Cruise: the audience of this movie, if uneducated about the backgrounds of the Assassination attempt and German Resistance, will get the impression that Stauffenberg was a heroic man who fought for freedom and democracy in Germany. This significant misconception is however, what has lead to in depth research and analysis of the question: What were Stauffenberg’s aims for the Plot of the 20th of July 1944?

1.5   Methodology

Being able to understand both English and German, the investigation will benefit from the variety of sources in both the English and German Language. Comparing and contrasting sources from both languages, whilst trying to avoid the limitations that translating brings with itself, will help establish a holistic perspective upon each area of focus of the investigation and will allow deeper insights into the topic of Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt. The investigation will begin with the analysis of English-historians such as Richard J. Evans and will then proceed to German historians’ perspective on the assassination. Awareness must be established that, even though both English and German sources will have similar, if not the same claims, the language in which each source portrays their message is of upmost importance. The reason for this is that some words, if directly translated into German might have completely different meanings, and that, especially regarding the description of Stauffenberg’s aims, the word choice of the sources is vital to the understanding of their stance. The two historians, whose views will be directly compared in this study, are Richard J Evans and Karl Hein Bohrer. The analysis of Hans Bernd Gisevius  book “Bis zum bittren Ende” [6] will argue to what extent Stauffenbergs aims were related to liberalism and democracy, and on the aims that, according to Gisevius, Stauffenberg had.  In addition, a personal telephone interview will be conducted with Claus Stauffenberg’s youngest daughter, Konstanze Gräfin von Schultheiss. Konstanze herself published a bibliography[7] of her mother, in which it tells the story oft he assassination attempt and it’s effects through the eyes of the wife of Stauffenberg. The interview is valuable because it offer’s a personal perspective to a topic that has been scrutinized by the historians. Furthermore, the investigation will conclude with a statement that incorporates and merges both schools of thought that circle around Stauffenberg’s aims.

Discussion and Findings (1000-1300 Words)

2.1 Contradictory Perspective on Stauffenberg’s Aims (Evans)

“His intention in setting it off was to rescue the honor of the German people”
                                                                                    Richard J Evans

Looking at the assassination attempt of the 20th of July, 1942, it is obvious that its purpose was to kill and end the rule of Germany’s “Führer“, Adolf Hitler. The aim, furthermore, is seen to be that of stopping the leadership of one and establishing that of another. It is important, when analyzing an assassination attempt, to not  be consumed the search for its aims, and those committing the act, but rather to search for their motivations. The words “aim” and “motivation”, seem to be synonyms, but the strong difference in meaning often remains undistinguished. While “aim” is defined simply to be a “desired outcome”, “motivation” is the “reasons one has for acting”, and touches upon the personal aims and reasons rather than the outcome as a whole.

According to Evans, an important factor that lead to Stauffenbergs “Attentat”[8] was his own personal “moral imperative” which was based on “a mixture of Catholic religious precepts, an aristocratic sense of honor, Ancient Greek ethics, and German Romantic poetry.”[9] Stauffenberg’s sense of responsibility towards Germany, which will explained in context of the war, was something, that can be considered a motivation for his act against Hitler. German historian Guido Knopp repeats and therefore also agrees Evans’ argument, that Stauffenberg’s motivations were based in his sense of moral commitment and his affection for romantic German poetry. Stauffenberg, according to Evans, wanted to end the suffering and hardship in Germany and out of that, create a “idealized medieval Reich”[10]. One can tell by this, that Stauffenberg’s motivations for the assassination attempt, were far deeper
than poet “Stefan George”[11] and his poems are named to be the source of influence for Stauffenberg’s “Utopianism”[12].  George’s role in Stauffenberg’s motivation has been grossly underestimated, and the Hollywood film “Valkyrie” does not even care to mention this figure of importance. As claimed by Evans, it was George and his “ambition to revive a “secret Germany” that would sweep away the materialism of the Weimar Republic” whose inspiraton and was the true origin for Stauffenberg’s formation of morals and ideologies. With the mixture of aristocratic codes of honor and his religious belief, the character of Stauffenberg can be portrayed as that one of high moral principles, and moreover, he “knew therefore that his bomb was important above all as a moral gesture”[13].

As mentioned in previously, the war and its effect on Germany had an immense effect on Stauffenberg’s motivations and aims behind planting the bomb. As the quotation at the beginning of this section of investigation states, it was extremely important to Stauffenberg to try and retain the honor, which Germany was losing, defeat by defeat. One questions however, why a man of aristocratic and high standing, would sacrifice everything, simply in order to retain the dignity of a country. Evan’s answer to this is that with his “beliefs, combined with his energetic personality” Stauffenberg was able to commit to an action “where many other members of the military-aristocratic resistance still hesitated”. Germany’s pulling out of the was the priority, and according to Evans, the saving of lives through this action would simply be a “consequence”[14]. In the month of June in 1942 alone, 46 000[15] soldiers had been killed, and from the start of the war up until July 1942, over one million soldiers had lost their lives in the war. Germany, even though not yet having experienced its worst moments of the war, and it was becoming “clear to Stauffenberg that (…) failure was becoming inevitable”[16] due to the “overstretching of Germany’s resources”[17]. Nonetheless, Stauffenberg’s motivations were not to create a democratic parliamentary system, which he supposedly called the “lie of equality”, but rather wanted to retain the reputation of the German military, since he himself had dedicated himself to it and did not want to see it fall.

In summary, Stauffenberg’s motivations, according to Evans, were not that to establish a democratic and liberal German state, but rather his obligations to his moral imperatives. Stauffenberg did not plant the bomb out of outrage of the National socialistic principles[18], on the contrary, his motivations were much more his loyalty and respect towards the German military and its reputation.

2.2 Alternative/Contemporary Perspective on Stauffenberg’s motivations
Contemporary Perspective on Stauffenberg’s Aim’s (800 words needed)

Die Verzerrungen sind selbst mehr oder weniger die in der bundesrepublikanischen Intelligenz geläufige Ansicht zum 20. Juli“[19]
                                                                                    Karl Heinz Bohrer

There are many reasons why Claus Schenk Stauffenberg’s actions can be considered honorable and heroic. He did, after all, sacrifice his privileged aristocratic lifestyle for the Germany’s freedom of the autocratic rule that had been in place since 1933.  The following part of the investigation will look at contemporary portrayal of Stauffenberg and will focus on Karl Heinz Bohrer’s contradiction to Richard J Evan’s perspective on Stauffenberg’s aims and will point its attention towards the perception of the Stauffenberg Attentat by Germans today.

With the 2009 publication of the Hollywood movie “Valkyrie”, awareness for the subject of German Resistance was raised exponentially. As Roger Moorhouse argues, few of those exposed to the film about of Stauffenberg had any existing knowledge on the man, and  many of them”[20] had heard of the plot on the 20th of July “for the first time”[21]. Moorhouse claims that the image of Stauffenberg for the contemporary generation is increasingly moving towards the image of a “chiseled-jaw action hero. With this being said, one can, to an extent agree that the public image of Stauffenberg has been influenced by the film industry, and that by this, the belief has been created that Stauffenberg’s aims were the creation of “the democratic Germany that we know today”.[22]  Moorhouse however offers a rather simplistic view upon this, claiming that the German public considers Stauffenberg to be a “good German” who did “the right thing” . Of course, the German public has a natural respect towards those Resistance fighters during the Nazi Regime, and it would be naïve to claim that German Resistance fighters’ actions are not portrayed as positive, however taking into consideration the assumptions made by Moorhouse, one must question the validity of him as a source for this investigation.

            Historian Hans Bernd Gisevius agrees to Evan’s claim, that Stauffenberg was driven by reasons that had little to do with repugnance of Nazi ideology and “wanted to retain all the totalitarian, militaristic and socialistic elements of National Socialism”. He also argues that Stauffenberg’s motivation to save Germany’s honor only “shifted to the rebel side after Stalingrad”[23]. Before this, he lacked the motivation to interfere, and this is evidence that Stauffenberg, who is portrayed by media as hero, did not have the murder of the Jews in mind, but instead cared about the army and the reputation that Germany would attain.
Evans states, in his newspaper article, that Stauffenberg followed a sort of codex of morals, and that his motivations were buried within that codex. Bohrer however, identifies and states that Evan’s claims are heavily flawed and that they sound as if  Evans attained and “was prompted to write this out of academic-west German circles”[24] . Evans indeed makes many claims, some of which contradict each other. Bohrer takes an offensive against these claims by stating already in the beginning of his article that the work of Evans is flawed and consists of “historical half-truths, contradictory Thesis. Bohrer published his article one year after Evans, in the same newspaper, the “Süddeutsche Zeitung“, and especially focuses on two points on which he felt, that Evans misrepresented Stauffenberg. Firstly, he argues that Evans misinterprets Stauffenbergs “moral Motivations”[25] and his “Role-Model Representation”[26]. Bohrer, instead of presenting his own opinion on the matter, bases his arguments on the disagreements he has with Evans’ “historical fantasies”. However, the problem with this is, that in doing that, Bohrer himself does not offer his own perspective, but instead only offers counter-claims to Evans’ article. Furthermore, Bohrer questions the statement that Stauffenberg supposebly had “moral Motivation” for his acts is questioned and looks at the figure Fritz Dietlof von der Schulenburg. Schulenburg was Stauffenbergs mento, when it came to the topic of political resistance, and this man had already plans in mind for Hitler’s assassination in 1939, not only after Stalingrad in 1943, as Evans claims.

4. Bibliography

Primary Sources:

1.      Evans, Richard J. "Why Did Stauffenberg Plant the Bomb?" Süddeutsche Zeitung(2009): n. pag. 23 Jan. 2009. Web.  www.signandsight.com.
3.     Bohrer, Karl Heinz. "Die Entlarvung Des 20. Juli." Www.süddeutsche.de. N.p., 17 May 2010. Web.

4.      Gisevius, Hans Bernd. Bis Zum Bittren Ende. N.p.: Rütten & Loening, 1960. 30 July 2007. Web.

Moorhouse, Roger. "A Good German? von Stauffenberg and the July Plot." History Today. 2009. 21 Nov. 2013 http://www.historytoday.com/roger-moorhouse/good-german-von stauffenberg-and-july-plot 

Hoffmann, Peter. Stauffenberg: A Family History, 1905-1944. Cambridge [England: Cambridge UP, 1995. Print.
7.      Knopp, Guido, Anja Greulich, and Mario Sporn. Stauffenberg: Die wahre Geschichte. München: Pendo, 2008.

8.     Kohlmaier, Matthias. "Stauffenberg Wollte Keine Parlamentarische Demokratie."Süddeutsche Zeitung. N.p., 21 July 2012. Web. 08 Oct. 2013. http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/hitler-attentat-am-juli-stauffenberg-wollte-keine-parlamentarische-demokratie-1.1417403

Secondary Sources

1. Lucas, Patrick. Die Sünde Und Die Lüge. N.p.: GRIN Verlag, 2008. Print.

2. 20. Juli 1944, Der Morgen: Bomben Im Handgepäck." SPIEGEL ONLINE. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/20-juli-1944-der-morgen-bomben-im-handgepaeck-a-309270.html.

3. Wohlgut, Bernd. Jäger Und Gejagte: Über Den Deutschen Widerstand Im Dritten Reich Und Was Aus Tätern Und Opfern in Der Bundesrepublik Wurde. Norderstedt: on Demand, 2009. Print.

4. Vogel, Robert, and Brian Padair Farrell. "Leadership and Responsibility in the Second World War." McGill-Queen's Press, 2004. Web.

5. Valkyrie. Dir. Bryan Singer. Perf. Tom Cruise. United Artists, n.d. DVD.

1.     Roorhouse, Roger. "A Good German? von Stauffenberg and the July Plot." History Today. 2009. 21 Nov. 2013 http://www.historytoday.com/roger-moorhouse/good-german-von stauffenberg-and-july-plot

[2]  20. Juli 1944, Der Morgen: Bomben Im Handgepäck." SPIEGEL ONLINE. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/20-juli-1944-der-morgen-bomben-im-handgepaeck-a-309270.html

[3]  Page 164, Wohlgut, Bernd. Jäger Und Gejagte, “Als die Bombe um 12:44 hochging, schützte der schwere Tisch Hitler, der nur leicht verletzt wurde Translated:“When the bomb went up at 12:44 PM, the heavy table protected Hitler“

[5] Valkyrie. Dir. Bryan Singer. Perf. Tom Cruise. United Artists, n.d. DVD.

[6] Translated to English: “Until the bitter End”
Gisevius, Hans Bernd. Bis Zum Bittren Ende. N.p.: Rütten & Loening, 1960. 30 July 2007. Web.
[7] Schulthess, Konstanze Von. Nina Schenk Gräfin Von Stauffenberg: Ein Porträt. München: Pendo, 2008. Print.
[8] German Terminology for „Assasination Attempt“
[9] Evans, Richard J. "Why Did Stauffenberg Plant the Bomb?" Süddeutsche Zeitung(2009): n. pag. www.signandsight.com. 23 Jan. 2009. Web.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Poem from Stefan George:
An Melchior Lechter
Deinem Sinn frei und stolz gegen unbill gefeit
Erz im tiegel des heils aller schlacken befreit!
Deiner Seele die hoch überm Traumland regiert ·
Uns · der welt jahr um jahr neue wunder gebiert!
Deinem Sein allen einsamen trost und geleit -
Turm von bleibendem strahl in der flutnacht der zeit!

[12] Evans, Richard J. "Why Did Stauffenberg Plant the Bomb?" Süddeutsche Zeitung(2009): n. pag. www.signandsight.com. 23 Jan. 2009. Web
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid, “There is little doubt, however, that this would have brought huge military advantages to the Allies,  and that the war would have come to an end several months sooner than it did, with the consequence of saving millions of lives”
[15] German Casualties in World War II." Wikipedia .  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_casualties_in_World_War_II
Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
[16] Evans, Richard J. "Why Did Stauffenberg Plant the Bomb?" Süddeutsche Zeitung(2009): n. pag. www.signandsight.com. 23 Jan. 2009. Web.
[17] Ibid.
[18] “Stauffenberg hat dem Dritten Reich sehr lange und mit Überzeugung gedient und hat sich bereits bei der Reichspräsidentenwahl in 1932 für Hitler ausgesprochen. Nach Hitlers Machtübernahme hat er als nationalsozialistischer Offizier Karriere gemacht“
Stauffenberg was loyal and worked for the Third Reich for a long time, and hat proclaimed his support for Hitler  in the Presidential Election for the Reich in 1932. After Hitler’s coming to power, he had a successful career as a national socialistic Officer.”
Kohlmaier, Matthias. "Stauffenberg Wollte Keine Parlamentarische Demokratie."Süddeutsche Zeitung. N.p., 21 July 2012. Web. 08 Oct. 2013.
[19] Transl. „These distortions are more or less the common belief and Intelligence that the German Republic has on the 20th of July”
Bohrer, Karl Heinz. "Die Entlarvung Des 20. Juli." Www.süddeutsche.de. N.p., 17 May 2010. Web.
[20]   Moorhouse, Roger. "A Good German? von Stauffenberg and the July Plot." History Today. 2009. 21 Nov. 2013 http://www.historytoday.com/roger-moorhouse/good-german-von stauffenberg-and-july-plot
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid.
[23] (Page 512)  Gisevius, Hans Bernd. Bis Zum Bittren Ende. N.p.: Rütten & Loening, 1960. 30 July 2007. Web.

[24] “den Eindruck, er sei ihm aus diesem zum Teil akademisch-westdeutschen Kreisen souffliert worden” Bohrer, Karl Heinz. "Die Entlarvung Des 20. Juli." Www.süddeutsche.de. N.p., 17 May 2010. Web.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.

History Extended Essay

Was Johann Georg Elser working alone in his attempt to assassinate Hitler in November 1939?

“Ich habe den Krieg verhindern wollen” – “I wanted to prevent War”

- Johann Georg Elser


Johann Georg Elser was a simple carpenter that attempted to murder the infamous Adolf Hitler. Although, he is seemingly unknown Historians and several other studies speculate the motives of his actions, as they were so unseen. When one looks towards even now, in modern times where perpetrators like Elser have received a considerably large amount of recognition, Georg Elser curiously has not received any, particularly to the same extent as many of the other Anti-Nazi’s of the time. As Der Spiegel puts it, “The bomb that nearly changed the course of history had been put there by an unassuming Swabian carpenter named Georg Elser. It took decades, though, for Elser to get proper recognition.”[1]

This essay will investigate whether Johann Georg Elser was really working alone in his attempt to assassinate Hitler in November 1939. This will be carried out through considering a large array of sources of information (Elser’s memorial sites of Germany, web articles and historical books) and analysing their view point of Elser’s act and possible accomplices. Initially, this essay will outline the details of Elser and his assassination attempt.  These will be divided into five segments; Elser’s background, the significance of the date (8th of November 1939) the bomb plot, the bomb blast, and the aftermath. This essay will then concentrate on a variety of accounts and interpretations of Elser’s assassination attempt. These include the historical writings of, William L. Shirer, Alan Bullock, Ernest R. Pope, David Irving, Cpt. Sigismund Payne Best and many other sources. The essay will then conclude with the definite knowledge that Johann Georg Elser was in fact not a lone perpetrator, and outline the limitations encountered when carrying out the investigation.

Word Count: 299

Was Johann Georg Elser working alone in his attempt to assassinate Hitler in November 1939?


The case of Johann Georg Elser remains unsolved till this very day.  Elser was a simple Swabian carpenter that tried to assassinate the infamous Nazi German führer Adolf Hitler. Germany today – as many have - has accepted the conclusion that Elser was a lone perpetrator. However, in the times before today there was no clear deduction as to what Elser’s true motives were, whether there were existent associate perpetrators. The case posed to be much too ambiguous. In fact even today, despite the modern acceptance for drawn conclusions, there still lies uncertainty as to if Elser was working alone. Elser is the perfect manifestation of the limitations and defaults historical studies include. The case of Elser has caused for many Historians to express weakness in their interpretation, and additionally Elser’s recognition and emplacement of memorials has been debated. Germany has long struggled deciding the actual heroism of Elser due to the curiosities of his case. This essay will investigate whether Johann Georg Elser was really working alone in his attempt to assassinate Hitler in November 1939.[2]


“His name was Georg Elser. He was a joiner from Königsbronn in Württemberg, thirty-six years old, a loner with few friends.”[3] Prior to 1933 he had supported the Communist Party of Germany (German: Kommunistische Partei DeutschlandsKPD).  He admired them, in the strict belief that they “stood for improving the lot of the working classes”. [4]

For a period in Elser’s life, he was beginning to pay strict attention to what he perceived to be deterioration in the living standards of the working class. He was beginning to feel robbed of life with restrictions on freedom, poor work conditions, and growing speculations of another war.  Furthermore, he did not suppress his views. He openly discussed the issues with his workmates. He had to some extent developed an obsession with the quality of life and implementing a change. Elser formed the conclusion that the only way to prevent war and improve the working class qualities was by eliminating the regime’s leadership – Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and Josef Goebbels.[5]

Die Neunte Elfte

Every year on the 8th to 9th of November during the Nazi Regime, Germany would celebrate “Die Neunte Elfte” (The Ninth of the Eleventh).  It was a day of remembrance for Hitler’s failed putsch - the Munich, or Beer Hall Putsch. It had developed into a day of great national importance under the Third Reich. Hitler would express his own personal condolences and respects to the Putsch with a public anniversary speech in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich every year on the 8th. The speech was always directed towards the old guard, although it had always included many of his personal ideals and vendettas.[6] For instance, on the very night of Elser’s attempt, Hitler’s speech was a “pure tirade of abuse against Britain”. [7] Hitler’s speech had always lasted about two hours; it would always be longwinded, yet powerful and exhilarating, curiously on the 8th of November 1939 the speech had been significantly reduced – Hitler was under serious time constraints.[8]


The Bomb Plot

On the 8th of November 1938 Elser travelled to Munich to attend Hitler’s anniversary speech at the Bürgerbräukeller. Elser assumedly judged the occasion to be a rather favourable opportunity to act on his distrust for the regime. Noticing how poorly guarded the event was, and furthermore witnessing the upsurges of Anti-Semitic violence during Kristallnacht of the very same night, Elser concluded from his experiences in Munich that he would begin plotting an attempt to assassinate the leaders of the Nazi regime. The plot would be initiated in the following year, during Hitler’s anniversary speech at the Bürgerbräukeller.[9]

Elser believed a time bomb would do him the justice of terminating his targets. It would be placed directly behind the dais where Hitler would stand to give his anniversary speech. In the months prior to the event, Elser gathered the appropriate materials from an armaments factory whereby he was currently working, and crafted his own time bomb. In early August 1939 Elser returned to Munich to further develop his plot. Throughout the entirety of over 30 nights Elser would hide in the Bürgerbräukeller, “working on hollowing out a cavity in the selected pillar and leaving by a side-door early next morning.” [10] By the 6th of November the bomb was set and in place. On the night of the 7th Elser returned to the beer hall to assure the bomb was still functioning accordingly. He placed his ear against the pillar and heard the timer ticking. Everything was precisely taking place according to this well orchestrated plan. On the morning of the 8th Elser fled towards Switzerland, where he presumed he would be safe.[11]

The Bomb Blast

It was a Wednesday on the 8th November when the Führer disembarked upon Munich for the anniversary celebration. This anniversary speech lasted just about under an hour. His speech was concise; it commemorated the old guard, and briefly preached hatred towards the British. After the speech, Hitler had often stayed and enjoyed socializing with the members of the event, curiously though he was rushed out of the Bürgerbräukeller “due to leave from the main railway station in nineteen minutes” Berlin bound.[12]

Shortly after Hitler’s departure from the event (at exactly 9:20 p.m.) Elser’s time bomb detonated. The explosion killed seven of those present and sixty-three sustained serious injuries. Elser’s prime targets had all escaped the harm and devastation of the blast. [13]

The Aftermath

The assassination attempt instigated uproar of interest and outrage within the population of Munich. Reports on the occurrence seemed to suggest the assistance and involvement of foreign entities. A reward was set “for the apprehension of the culprit... set at 500,000 Marks, a sum raised to 600,000 Marks by the voluntary contribution of a private individual.”[14]

The news of the event was reported the following day of the blast.  Newspapers had expressed several curiosities towards the event, particularly concerning the involvement of possible other perpetrators. Rumors and suspicions were formed and barely allayed by the officially published Police Chief’s official position on the occurrence in a certain Deutsches Nachrichtenbüro (DNB) article released on the 21st of November 1939.[15] 

The position had informed the public of Elser’s details, the particulars of the assassination attempt, and its results and impacts. The position had furthermore spoken of Elser’s arrest. Elser had fled Munich and headed towards the border for Switzerland. During his escape, the Nazi authorities had managed to apprehend him. [16]

Elser faced nothing but the simplistic cold walls of confinement within the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, then after the Dachau Concentration Camp for the remaining five and a half years of his life. In his imprisonment Elser made several extraordinary encounters.  These included a variety of different characters - for instance, Cpt. Sigismund Payne Best, Dr. Sigismund Rascher,[17] and even the chief commander of the Kripo (criminal police) Arthur Nebe – whom also further in time attempted to assassinate the Führer Adolf Hitler. Elser’s life in penitentiary thus tells somewhat many intriguing stories. [18]

Johann Georg Elser was executed on the 9th of April 1945 in the Dachau Concentration Camp. It was assumedly part of a nationwide Schutzstaffel (SS) orchestrated butchering of well-known opponents to the regime. Curiously the execution of the supposedly lone perpetrator was blamed on an Allied bombing raid. Furthermore and even more curiously, the execution orders of prisoners came from the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) in Berlin, which would have been directed to the head of the Gestapo branch office at Dachau, Johann Kick. In the majority of the cases Kick would have emplaced an order to the SS officer in charge of executions at Dachau, Wilhelm Ruppert. Ruppert would have then given the order to the executioners at Dachau, Frenz Trenkle or Theodor Bongartz, who would carry out the execution. In the case of Georg Elser, this did not take place. [19]

Acting Alone

Historians of the days since November 8th 1939 have speculated about Elser and whether he had other accomplices. Many for instance William L. Shirer and Alan Bullock made personal convictions that Elser was not acting alone, and had actually been working with the Gestapo. The one huge and consistent issue with making these claims of Elser not entirely acting alone is that they aren’t based on entirely justified and conclusive facts, just certain facts which have been interpreted in the strangest and most illogical of ways. Alternative history sources would prove more conclusively that Elser was acting alone. If one considers the revolutionary article written by Anton Hoch in the Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, which “conclusively proved” that Elser was acting entirely alone in his attempt. The publication of the transcripts of Elser’s interrogation the following year, further concluded the fact that Elser had no partners in his plan to kill Hitler. Every publication briefly explaining the attempt carried out by Elser since then has clarified that Elser’s seclusion in his act of treason.[20]

William L. Shirer

William L. Shirer claims initially within The Berlin Diary that the case seemed or “[sounded] fishy”, and that “it [smelled] of another Reichstag Fire“.  After learning more of the case, and taking more of the facts into consideration, Shirer states his view as how “one German” expressed their views, “Now I know Himmler Planted that bomb.” Shirer showed significant interest into this one perpetrator, he stressed his suspicion of “another Reichstag Fire”. Shirer even outlined the facts that evidenced the right to his suspicions concerning the case. They were as follows: on all other years whereby Hitler attended the anniversary speech, “Hitler and all the other bigwigs [had] remained after the speech to talk over old times with the comrades of the Putsch and guzzle beer”; Hitler’s speech had often too lasted substantially longer and as Shirer put it, “Had [Hitler] remained twelve minutes and one second longer he surely would have been killed”; then additionally the event was surprisingly spontaneous, “Neither the radio nor the press hinted that he would be  speaking tonight, and officials in the Wilhelmstraße  learned about it only an hour before it took place.” Shire’s initial case as shown in his journal was significantly justified, perhaps not to the strongest of extents. Although his speculations seem very vague, unspecific, and too judgement based, they can’t be scrapped as evidence, the validity and utility must still be put under great considerations. [21]

Shirer’s case is further developed in his book, The Nightmare Years: 1930 – 1940. Shire further evidences the curiosity of Elser’s case in describing his discovered treatment in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau Concentration Camp. He describes the abnormality of Elser’s so called punishment and then continues to describe his execution; “But Himmler kept his eye on him. It would never do to let the carpenter survive, if the war were lost, to tell his tale. When it (the war) became irretrievably lost, the Gestapo chief (Müller) acted. On April 16, 1945, as the end of the Third Reich neared, it was announced that Elser had been killed in an Allied bombing attack. Actually, Himmler had him murdered by the Gestapo.” “Curiously, Himmler had allowed Captain S. Payne Best and Major Richard H. Stevens to live to tell their tale.”[22]

Within Shirer’s more known work, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, there is yet even more presented evidence to indicate the likes of Elser working with another accomplice, more specifically as part of a propagandist’s plan. Shirer includes the viewpoint of the Reverend Martin Niemöller, who formed the personal conviction that Elser was a mere puppet in a plot to stir up war spirits against Britain while it was in lacking. [23]

In the case of Shirer here, the evidence provided and suppositions made by him would look too inconclusive and unjustified. It is most definitely right for Shirer to have speculated the occurrence he believes to have taken place, however he is but a man drawing mere conclusions from pieces of evidence that could possibly indicate otherwise to his own arguments. Shirer was additionally an American journalist writing a personal account of Germans, [24] understanding completely the German viewpoint would have to seem difficult, he would also thus be writing more creatively than informatively – a common criticism of Shirer’s works. One cannot draw very simply from the likes of Shirer’s texts that Elser’s attempt was a plan orchestrated by the Himmler and the Gestapo. One would have to look far deeper into the case, and further explore other works of evidence.[25]

Alan Bullock

One must therefore consider the works of Alan Bullock, yet another historian who ponders upon the strangeness of Elser’s attempt. Bullock remains till this day for somewhat sixty years, one of the most credited and acclaimed sources concerning the life of Hitler.  In 1952, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny was published and successfully communicated aspects of Hitler’s life that were never truly known. Based on the transcripts of the Nuremberg Trials, and first hand accounts of the occurrences in the Nazi Regime, Bullock characterised and explained Hitler’s opportunistic machtpolitik, (“power politics”).[26]

In terms of Elser, Bullock too indicates the seeming of another “Reichstag fire” within, “Hitler A Study in Tyranny”.  It is stated, “in fact the attempt on Hitler's life was organized by the Gestapo as a means of raising the Fiihrer's popularity in the country. Elser, a skilled cabinet-maker, who had drifted into the company of a group of Communists, had been picked up by the Gestapo in the concentration camp at Dachau, where he had been sent for 're-education'. He was offered his freedom if he would do what he was told, and was taken twice by night to the Biirgerbraukeller in Munich. There he was ordered to build an explosive charge into one of the pillars close to the spot where Hitler would be standing during his speech.”[27]

Bullock however reconsidered his initial suspicions. Alan Bullock in his book, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, literally writes the words “acting alone”[28], when describing Elser’s attempt. One would have to thus draw the simple conclusion that based on the evidence and claims that even acclaimed historians have made, one cannot simply assume correctness and validity in their evidence and claims. One would have to look further into other sources of information for even a slight hint that Elser was not acting alone. Furthermore Bullock was born, raised and studied in Britain, his viewpoint thus tended to be lenient more toward the British side and more so saw the life of Hitler from the outside.[29]

Ernest R. Pope

Furthermore Ernest R. Pope writes in his book, “They Were There, My own opinion is that the Bürgerbräu explosion was a job inspired by Goebbels and executed by Himmler in order to make the Germans hate the British. The jubilation over the Polish conquest had expired, there was a dismal stalemate on the western front, and the disgruntled Germans were beginning to grumble more audibly about the blackout, the rationed food, and the freezing temperatures in their homes. They were still angry with Hitler for plunging their country into war, and had not yet been seriously bombed or attacked by the Allies, so had no reason to hate England. The Munichers especially remembered Chamberlain vividly as their angel of peace. Goebbels thought that six dead, petty Brown Shirts and one Munich waitress was a bargain price to pay for getting obstinate Germans to curse the British Prime Minister.” [30]

The fault in Pope’s work lies within it’s content. Pope is seen to be rather anecdotal instead of factual. His points are well conveyed, yet do not imply a high level of investigative research. Pope is furthermore yet another English source that fails to take into account the German view, the language barrier would certainly question the subjectivity of his work.[31]

David Irving

For one within Hitler’s very speech on the night he was referring negatively to the British. As, David Irving in Hitler’s War put it, “Hitler's speech was undistinguished, a pure tirade of abuse against Britain, whose "true motives" for this new crusade Hitler identified as jealousy and hatred of the new Germany, which had achieved in six years more than Britain had in centuries.” Furthermore, Hitler had Julius Schaub (Hitler’s chief aide and adjutant), “nervously passed him cards on which he had scrawled increasingly urgent admonitions: "Ten minutes!" then "Five!" and finally a peremptory "Stop!"- A method he had previously had to use to remind his Führer, who never used a watch, of the passage of mortal time."[32]

Captain Sigismund Payne Best

This essay will thus now look towards an alternative source; this is the supposed close friend of Elser preceding to his execution, in Dachau, the famous Captain Sigismund Payne Best. Best wrote about his encounters with Elser during his imprisonment in Dachau in his book, The Venlo Incident. As it seems, Best was a close and trustworthy pen pal of Elser during their confinement, Elser had communicated with him largely through letters that they were permitted to write to each other. In these not so close encounters Best had with Elser, Elser had spoken rather openly and truthfully to Best, communicating not only his thoughts and feelings, but also his experiences and certain truths about the assassination attempt incident he had encountered. [33]

Throughout his book, Best never properly recognises the aims of Elser, and whether he truly was acting alone or not. He does however include in his writings, the view of Dr Sigmund Rascher whom he came across in one of the camps he was emplaced in. Rascher “From all that he had heard…believed that Goebbels had been at the back of it and that the intention had been to arouse public enthusiasm in Munich, where there was a sad lack of war-like spirit, by the pretence that British agents had attempted to assassinate the Führer.” Best additionally happens to have provided a significant amount of details about Elser, which would allow for the indication that he was not acting alone.[34]

Best puts a quantitative amount of stress on the comfort Elser was permitted to in the Concentration Camps. Elser had apparently been, in one instance “put in a comfortable cell in a building used to house important political prisoners. Here, instead of his striped prison garb, he was given civilian clothes, and he was also brought good food and as many cigarettes as he wished. Next day, as he expressed a desire to finish some work which he had on hand, a carpenters' bench was brought to a large cell in the building and he was given his tools.” In very few cases were Prisoners given the same privileges Elser was given. What possible reasons are there for this treatment? One certainly apparent one is that he was acting not just with any partner, but with the Gestapo.[35]

Sigismund Best additionally provided valid information concerning Elser’s execution. How Elser died was a real mystery until Best had published The Venlo Incident, even now his death remains a curious case. The story of Georg Elser’s execution is as follows: Heinrich Himmler had ordered the head of the Gestapo, the SS - Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, to deliver a letter that placed the order to execute Johann Georg Elser (who was given the code name, “special prisoner Georg Eller”). The execution was to take place when the next allied air raid occurred. The Commandant of the Dachau concentration camp, Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter was to carry out the execution. This had indicated that there was a certain want for the German Authorities to kill Elser, and then furthermore to disguise this execution. His assassination attempt and death would be pinned on the British. Could one therefore not draw the conclusion after all of this strange suspicion that Elser was clearly not acting alone. What other secret did Himmler have to hide from the world? One would relate this event straight to the execution of Dr Sigmund Rascher. Himmler Had ordered Rascher’s death much like he had done so with Elser, this had been done supposedly due to the fear that Rascher would announce the Nazi’s actions in the immoral medical experiments for the Luftwaffe at Dachau. Rascher had been one of the head doctors conducting the experiments, and following what he would consider his a particularly unfair imprisonment, he had no reason to turn against the Nazi’s once the Allies had completely claimed victory over Germany under the Third Reich. [36]


There are therefore many different claims of suspicion that Elser was only acting under the influence or allowance of Goebbels and or Himmler with the Gestapo.  The mere fact that these are historians all indifferent to each other, drawing similar initial conclusions emphasises some truth to the fact that Elser was not acting alone. One would have to over look into further pure facts however to rectify these judgements as reasonably valid, which was overlooked in this essay. One could certainly then issue the conclusion that Elser was not acting alone, as Bullock, Shirer and Pope have all noticed, he was in fact working with the allowance of the Nazi authorities. The case of Hitler having criticised the British during the speech only further emphasises all three of the historians’ view on Elser’s attempt being a weapon of propaganda. The fact that Schaub was urgent and noticeably nervous during Hitler’s speech would indicate some form of knowledge of the incident about to occur. And lastly, as shown previously in Shirer’s writings, the treatment of Georg Elser certainly differed to many of the other prisoners of the concentration camps in which he was based prior to his death. Surely, the SS had something to hide in their strange care for the political opponent/prisoner – perhaps the fact that he was just a weapon for them to boost the German enthusiasm for the war effort they so apparently desperately needed. There are nevertheless many limitations one would encounter in carrying out this investigation. One definitely prominent issue is the language barrier. Several sources that were German would have had to be translated, which firstly does not portray the original message – as the intent can be lost in the language. Secondly this would indicate many possibly sources were not taken into account for the investigation, the difference in language made it rather difficult to identify appropriate sources that were in German. Furthermore another default encountered in historical investigations is that not all of the required information is currently existent. For this particular case very little information was provided concerning Elser’s attempt, historians have no official way of knowing additionally that the available information is necessarily true. Judgements have to be constantly made in cases, which offer subjectivity.


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Footnotes:   [1] "Remembering Georg Elser: Berlin Debates Memorial for Would-Be Hitler Assassin."SPIEGEL ONLINE. Der Spiegel, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [2] Grenville, Anthony. "AJR." AJR. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [3] Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).     [4] Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).     [5]Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).     [6] "ExecutedToday.com." » Munich. WordPress, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. .     [7] Irving, David John Cawdell. (54).     [8] Irving, David John Cawdell. (54).     [9] Housden, Martyn.  (174).     [10] Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).  [11] Kershaw, Ian.  (327-28).  [12] Irving, David John Cawdell. (54).     [13] Domarus, Max. (1877).     [14] Domarus, Max. (1877).     [15] Domarus, Max. (1877).     [16] Domarus, Max. (1877).     [17] "Georg Elser - Allegedly Executed at Dachau during a Bombing Raid." Georg Elser - Allegedly Executed at Dachau during a Bombing Raid. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.  .     [18] Lumsden, Robin.  (84-85).        [19] "Who Killed Georg Elser, the Man Who Tried to Kill Hitler?" Scrapbookpages Blog. WordPress, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. .     [20] Grenville, Anthony. "AJR." AJR. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [21] Shirer, William. 1941. (251-52).     [22] Shirer, William L 1984. (468).     [23] Shirer, William L. 1960. (473-500).     [24] "William Shirer Obituary." William Shirer Obituary. Traces, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [25] "The New Republic." New Republic. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [26] Bullock, Alan.1962. (567+).     [27] Bullock, Alan. 1962. (567+).  [28] Bullock, Alan. 1992. (642).     [29] "Alan Louis Charles Bullock (British Historian)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [30] Pope, Ernest R. (68-70).     [31] "Ill-advised." Ill-advised. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. .     [32] Irving, David John Cawdell. (54).  [33] Best, S. Payne. (94-127).     [34] Best, S. Payne. (94-127).  [35] Best, S. Payne. (94-127).  [36] Best, S. Payne. (94-127).