The most famous assassination attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler took place on July 20th 1944 at the Wolfsschanze or Wolf’s Lair headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia. The plot was codenamed Operation Valkyrie and was led by the German aristocrat and army officer Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg in conjunction with General Friedrich Olbricht and General Ludwig Beck of the German general staff. The plot was the culmination of a more widespread anti-Nazi German resistance movement to overthrow Hitler and the Third Reich. This feature will commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Valkyrie and explore how the story of Stauffenberg and the July assassination plot is represented in the UL’s German collections.
Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg was born in 1907 into the German aristocracy and began his military career in the 1920s before Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933. Although he was never a member of the Nazi party, he did support Hitler’s invasion of Poland at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 and was severely wounded in action in Africa in 1942. It was not until 1942-43 that Stauffenberg became one of the central figures of the German resistance movement within the Wehrmacht and by July 1944 he was the main driving force behind the plot to assassinate Hitler.