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TBR News July 21, 2018

Jul 21 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8

Washington, D.C. July 21, 2018: “The best way to disarm disinformation agents is to know their methods inside and out. This gives us the ability to point out exactly what they are doing in detail the moment they try to do it. Immediately exposing a disinformation tactic as it is being used is highly destructive to the person utilizing it. It makes them look foolish, dishonest, and weak for even making the attempt. Internet trolls most especially do not know how to handle their methods being deconstructed right in front of their eyes, and usually fold and run from debate when it occurs.

The truth is precious. It is sad that there are so many in our society that have lost respect for it; people who have traded in their conscience and their soul for temporary financial comfort while sacrificing the stability and balance of the rest of the country in the process. The human psyche breathes on the air of truth, without it, humanity cannot survive. Without it, the species will collapse in on itself, starving from lack of intellectual and emotional sustenance.

Disinformation does not only threaten our insight into the workings of our world; it makes us vulnerable to fear, misunderstanding, and doubt, all things that lead to destruction. It can lead good people to commit terrible atrocities against others, or even against themselves. Without a concerted and organized effort to diffuse mass-produced lies, the future will look bleak indeed.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Syrian forces advance as Russia-France aid arrives
  • Iran supreme leader threatens to block all Gulf oil exports if its own are stopped
  • Putin-Trump summit: Not Munich, Pearl Harbor or Yalta, just Helsinki
  • A Tale of Two Poisonings
  • Trump denies wrongdoing, says lawyer’s tape ‘perhaps illegal’
  • Less than a fifth of children reunited with migrant parents as deadline looms
  • The Official Gestapo report on the 20th of July Assassination Plot
  • Events in Berlin, July 20, 1944
  • Stauffenberg’s background

 

 

Syrian forces advance as Russia-France aid arrives

The Syrian regime has gained ground in southwestern Quneitra province after rebels were evacuated from the area under a deal. This comes as the first delivery of aid provided by France and Russia arrived in the country.

July 21, 2018

DW

The Syrian army pushed into the edges of former rebel-held Quneitra province on Saturday, as aid provided by France and Russia arrived in the country in the first joint humanitarian aid operation between Russia and a Western country.

The delivery came as Russian President Vladimir Putin and French leader Emmanuel Macron on Saturday discussed “humanitarian aspects of the Syria settlement,” including the joint mission “to render assistance to the population of Eastern Ghouta,” the Kremlin said.

The operation was agreed upon by Putin and Macron during talks in Saint Petersburg in May.

A Russian Antonov-124 Ruslan military cargo plane delivered more than 40 tonnes of medical aid and humanitarian supplies to the Russian military base in Hmeimim after departing from the central French city of Chateauroux early Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The aid includes medicine, medical equipment, clothes and tents, and is to be be given to residents of Eastern Ghouta on the edge of the capital Damascus, which was retaken by government forces in April after a five-year siege.

It will be distributed under the supervision of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA).

Syrian forces retake rebel areas

Syrian forces meanwhile have been able to close in on the southwestern area of rebel-held Quneitra province following a deal negotiated between Russian forces and the rebels last week that saw hundreds of rebels and their families evacuated from the area.

The army and its allies made advances that have brought it closer to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border, state television and the rebels said.

The offensive has allowed Syrian government to restore control over a section of the strategic territory, which borders with Jordan and Israel.

The evacuations from Quneitra province came after a Russia-brokered agreement was reached earlier this week to see rebels hand over the territory to the Syrian regime.

The deal reached between Russian officers and the insurgents provided a safe passage to rebels rather than a return to state rule, while offering others who decide to stay guarantees against army advances in their own localities, rebels said.

Rebels evacuate

Some 50 buses transporting rebels and their families on Saturday reached the Morek transit route in the north of Hama province, which connects regime and rebel-held territories, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitor said the first convoy to reach Morek transported around 2,800 people.

They were then to be transferred to other buses run by local NGOs, before continuing north to temporary camps in rebel-held areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, SOHR said.

“More than half of the evacuees are women and children,” said SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman. “A second wave of departures is expected from Quneitra,” he added.

Regime forces close in on Daraa

The Russian deal with the rebels also allows the return of Syrian army brigades that existed before the 2011 conflict back to where they were stationed near a 1974 demilitarized zone with Israel on the Golan frontier.

President Bashar al-Assad’s troops launched their southern offensive on June 19, targeting the province of Daraa before turning their attention to neighbouring Quneitra. The regime has now captured more than 90 percent of Daraa.

On Friday, 11 children were among 26 civilians killed in airstrikes which hit several towns in the area, the SOHR said.

The Syrian conflict has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal government crackdown on protesters.

 

Iran supreme leader threatens to block all Gulf oil exports if its own are stopped

July 21, 2018

RT

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that no country in the region will export oil if Iran’s exports are stopped. The same threat was earlier voiced by President Hassan Rouhani.

Speaking to Iranian ambassadors and senior diplomats on Saturday, Khamenei backed Rouhani’s earlier warning to close the Strait of Hormuz, thus blocking all oil shipments from the Persian Gulf.

“[These] were important remarks that reflect Islamic Republic’s approach,” the Ayatollah said, according to his official website. He added that Iran’s Foreign Ministry must closely follow the approach.

The statement comes in response to anti-Iran rhetoric by the US, which is currently pressing allies to cut off Iranian crude exports. During a recent tour, a senior State Department official warned that those failing to reduce Iranian oil imports to “zero” by early November would face US sanctions.

Tehran and Washington have been exchanging threats since the latter sought to rip apart the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. However, while the US pulled out of the agreement, other countries did not follow suit and condemned the move, vowing to keep the agreement without support from Washington.

While Tehran still wants to go further in negotiations with Europe, Khamenei said that sitting down with Washington would be useless. “The word and even the signature of the Americans cannot be relied upon, so negotiations with America are of no avail,” he told Foreign Ministry officials.

Earlier, the Trump administration requested a meeting with Rouhani eight times, but the Iranian side refused to participate.

 

Putin-Trump summit: Not Munich, Pearl Harbor or Yalta, just Helsinki

July 17, 2018

by Bryan MacDonald

RT

US pundits used terms like “Munich,” “Pearl Harbor” and “treason” to describe the Helsinki Summit. In reality, it was a pretty harmless encounter which changed little.

MOSCOW – Gary Kasparov, the former Soviet chess grandmaster turned anti-Russia rabble-rouser, probably best conveyed the madness. “I’m ready to call this the darkest hour in the history of the American presidency,” he tweeted. Now, just imagine reading that from Iraq, Vietnam or Hiroshima.

Especially given it amounted to a hot-take on nothing much at all. Because the most Monday’s event betrayed was that Donald Trump has little understanding of high-level diplomacy and insufficient clout to deliver his foreign policy agenda. If he actually has one, of course.

By early morning, Trump had already enraged his own elites. While his tweet blaming his own country for the dreadful state of US-Russian relations might have been accurate, it was poor politics. And, predictably, the “swamp” launched into a full frenzied attack.

When, a short time later, the Russian foreign ministry replied with the words “we agree,” the US establishment blew a collective fuse.

Sixties stress

For decades, US experts regarded the 1961 Nikita Khrushchev-John F Kennedy encounter as an embarrassment, as the rough and tumble Russian easily emerged with the upper hand. And, yesterday, much commentary compared Trump’s performance to JFK’s humiliation.

But this is hyperbole. That summit led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, whereas here were two leaders attempting to reduce tensions. And both were more interested in playing to their domestic bases than creating the conditions for World War Three.

Let’s face it, unless the Washington establishment makes a very unlikely about-turn, the Russia-US confrontation will last for decades and outlive both the Trump and Putin presidencies because it has a simple root.

In 1991, Russians believed they were joining the US-led international order as equal partners and the Americans considered Moscow to be a defeated empire. Meaning, much like Germany in 1945, they expected Russia to fall into line and suck it up, albeit without a Marshall Plan. Washington’s strategy failed because the economy collapsed, Russians lost their thirst for liberalism, and by a stroke of luck, a competent government, blessed with high oil prices, managed to perform an economic resurrection before it was too late.

By 2007, Putin had drawn red lines about NATO expansion in Munich, but the US didn’t listen and now we are where we are. That’s it, in simplistic terms, because unlike the rest of Europe, Russia defines its own national interests, rather than taking instruction from Washington. And that’s just how it is, and it’s unlikely to change, barring some sort of catastrophic fiscal or state collapse.

Something the US already gambled on during the past decade. And the plan hasn’t worked out.

Roll the dice

Trump knows this. But he’s powerless to change course. Thus, the best Moscow can do is seek good relations with him, in the hope things don’t get worse in the immediate term while it awaits the conclusion of its own gamble: that the US desire for unipolar hegemony is toppled by either domestic events, the rise of China, the fracturing of the Atlantic alliance, or a combination of the three.

Aware of how delicate the US position is, some well-placed Moscow sources believe Trump’s real agenda is to establish an alliance with the Kremlin against Beijing. Something the same insiders dismiss as a non-runner as long as Putin holds the reins.

Anyway, back to Helsinki. The US media covered the summit like it was a Tyson-Holyfield or McGregor-Mayweather bout. But those fighters don’t have deep states to consider. Putin conceded he wanted Trump to win in 2016 “because he was for the normalization of relations” but strongly denied the Russian state had interfered in the election process. Trump, who knows pushing too hard on this topic could de-legitimize his own presidency accepted Putin’s reassurance.

Despite arriving directly from the United Kingdom, Trump didn’t publicly bring up recent events in Salisbury. Something which mainly served to badly expose the limits of British diplomatic power in the Brexit age.

Nothing new

Nevertheless, let’s look at the hysteria again. Because many US news outlets and pundits would have you believe Trump handed over the family silver to Moscow. Which is nonsense.

In reality, hardly anything changed. Trump didn’t recognize Crimea, threaten to walk away from NATO or withdraw from Syria. He also didn’t announce he was pulling US bases out of Germany or embracing the Nord Stream pipeline. Instead, he spent last week intimating the US would compete with the planned project, using its own Liquid Natural Gas.

To any reasonable observer, there isn’t much Putin and Trump can really do for each other right now. Moscow won’t betray Iran or hand over Edward Snowden, for instance. And Trump has no intentions of hanging Ukraine out to dry or removing US missiles from eastern Europe. So, the best the two men can do is try to get along personally and keep tensions under some sort of control. If relations ever improve, it will be down to unglamorous diplomatic processes, organized through back channels, in private places. Not via summit extravaganzas like we witnessed in Helsinki. In the social media age, these events are more about showbiz than real political progress.

 

A Tale of Two Poisonings

Shaping a story to fit the agenda

July 17, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

Poisoning enemies has a long history with Augustus Caesar’s wife Livia allegedly a master of the art, as were the Borgias in Renaissance Italy. Lately there has been a resurgence in allegations regarding the use of poisons of various types by several governments. The claims are particularly damaging both morally and legally as international conventions regard the use of poisonous chemical compounds as particularly heinous, condemning their use because they, when employed in quantity, become “weapons of mass destruction,” killing indiscriminately and horribly, making no distinction between combatants and civilians. Their use is considered to be a “war crime” and the government officials who ordered their deployment are “war criminals,” subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

There are two important poisoning stories that have made the news recently. Both are follow-ups to reporting that has appeared in the news over the past few months and both are particularly interesting because they tend to repudiate earlier coverage that had been largely accepted by several governments as well as the media and the chattering class of paid experts that appears on television.

The first story relates to the poisoning of former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. There was quite a bit that was odd about the Skripal case, which relied from the start “…on circumstantial evidence and secret intelligence.” And there was inevitably a rush to judgment. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson blamed Russia less than forty-eight hours after the Skripals were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury England, too soon for any chemical analysis of the alleged poisoning to have taken place.

British Prime Minister Theresa May threw gasoline on the fire when she addressed Parliament shortly thereafter to blame the Kremlin and demand a Russian official response to the event in 36 hours, declaring that the apparent poisoning was “very likely” caused by a made-in-Russia nerve agent referred to by its generic name novichok. The British media was soon on board with a vengeance, spreading the government line that such a highly sensitive operation would require the approval of President Vladimir Putin himself. The expulsion of Russian diplomats soon followed with the United States and other countries following suit.

Repeated requests by Russia to obtain a sample of the alleged nerve agent for testing were rejected by the British government in spite of the fact that a military grade nerve agent would have surely killed both the Skripals as well as anyone else within 100 yards. As the latest British account of the location of the alleged poison places it on the door handle of the Scripals’ residence, the timetable element was also unconvincing. That meant that the two would have spent three hours, including a stop at a pub and lunch, before succumbing on a park bench. Military grade nerve agents kill instantly.

The head of Britain’s own chemical weapons facility Porton Down even contradicted claims made by May, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, and British Ambassador in Moscow Laurie Bristow. The lab’s Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead testified that he did not know if the nerve agent was actually produced in Russia, a not surprising observation as the chemical formula was revealed to the public in a scientific paper in 1992 and there are an estimated twenty countries capable of producing it. There are also presumed stocks of novichok remaining in independent countries that once were part of the Soviet Union, to include Russia’s enemy du jour Ukraine, while a false flag operation by the British themselves, the CIA or Mossad, is not unthinkable.

Nevertheless, the politically weak May government, desperately seeking a formidable foreign enemy to rally around against, insisted that Russia, almost certainly acting under orders from Vladimir Putin himself, carried out the killing of a former British double agent who had been released from a Kremlin prison in a spy swap and who was no longer capable of doing any damage to Russia. Putin apparently did all that in spite of the fact that he had an election coming up and would be the host of the World Cup in the summer, an event that would be an absolute top priority to have go smoothly.

Now there has been an actual death in Amesbury near Salisbury that has been attributed to novichok. On June 30th, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were admitted to hospital after being found unconscious. Sturgess died eight days later. The May government has not yet blamed it on Putin or even on a clumsy Russian operative that might have inadvertently left behind a vial of poison or a used syringe, though Home Secretary Sajid Javid came close to that when he suggested that Russia was using Britain as a “dumping ground for poisons.” Police suggestions that the poisoned couple appear to have handled novichok infused material of some kind before succumbing appears to be contradicted by inability to find the actual source of the alleged exposure.

British government dancing around the issue notwithstanding, there have been suggestions that the closest source of more novichok might well be the U.K. government labs at nearby Porton Down, only seven miles from Salisbury and Amesbury, which increases suspicion about the original story promulgated by Downing Street. Would the British government actually poison an expendable ex-Russian spy and his daughter to divert attention from a domestic political problem at home? It’s worth considering as the “blame it all on Putin narrative” becomes even less credible.

The second story comes from Syria, where there is also a Russian hand as Moscow is aiding the government of Bashar al-Assad. The by now notorious April 7, 2018 alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held Syrian city of Douma was widely blamed by Western countries and the mainstream media on Assad’s forces. This resulted in a decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to order massive U.S.-led retaliatory airstrikes against targets reportedly involved in chemical production in and around Damascus.

Trump blamed “animal Assad” for “using nerve agents” and both the media and most European governments followed that line, concluding that Damascus had ordered the chemical attacks a mere moments after videos purporting to show scores of chemical attack victims first surfaced from rebel sources, long before U.S. intelligence could have made its own assessment. A 5-page White House assessment released on April 13th, just days after the alleged attack asserted that sarin was used at Douma, claiming that “A significant body of information points to the regime using chlorine in its bombardment of Duma, while some additional information points to the regime also using the nerve agent sarin.”

Independent sources warned at the time that not a single neutral observer was on the ground to confirm that chemical agents launched by the Syrian government had, in fact, been used, but were ignored. All of the sources reporting the attack were either affiliated with the rebels who occupied the area or were not physically present in Douma.

Now, finally, three months later, there has been a credible independent report on what was determined about the attack through chemical analysis of traces recovered in Douma. A preliminary report published last Friday by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found no traces of any nerve agent like sarin at the site. The OPCW report states this clearly: “No organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties.”

This means that the Trump Administration claimed to have details relating to an event in a foreign country that it did not know and could not actually confirm to be true. And it used that as a justification for ordering an airstrike that killed people and destroyed targets in Syria. Will the White House respond to the OPCW report and apologize, possibly to include reparations for an unjustified attack on another sovereign nation? Don’t hold your breath.

The Salisbury and Douma attacks are illustrative of just what happens when a government is prepared to dissimulate or even lie to go the extra mile to make a case to justify preemptive action that otherwise might be challenged. Theresa May is, unfortunately, still in power and so is Donald Trump. In a better world an outraged public would demand that they be thrown out of office and even possibly subjected to the tender ministrations of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. With power comes accountability, or at least that should be the rule, but it is a dictum that has for some time been ignored. Even given that, one might hope that the blunders will not be repeated, but there is not even any assurance that either May or Trump is much given to “lessons learned” or that a Mike Pence or Boris Johnson would be any better. That is our tragedy.

 

 

 

Trump denies wrongdoing, says lawyer’s tape ‘perhaps illegal’

July 21, 2018

by David Brunnstrom and Karen Freifeld

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday denied any wrongdoing a day after reports that his onetime attorney Michael Cohen had recorded them both discussing buying the rights to a story by a woman who said she had an affair with Trump.

The president said in a tweet it was “perhaps illegal” for a lawyer to record a client. An attorney for Cohen called Trump’s statement “false.”

“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of,” Trump tweeted, in an apparent reference to an FBI raid on Cohen in April.

“Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!” Trump added.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Reuters on Friday Cohen recorded a conversation with Trump in September, two months before the 2016 election, in which they discussed buying the rights to a story by a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who said she had an affair with Trump.

On Saturday, Giuliani told Reuters the conversation was held at Trump’s office in Trump Tower and that Cohen used a hidden device to record the conversation. In New York state, it is legal to record a conversation if one party consents.

Giuliani said no campaign funding was involved in the discussion between Trump and Cohen, who has distanced himself from Trump in recent months as the FBI investigates Cohen’s business dealings. If campaign funds were used, that could run afoul of federal election law, legal experts say.

In a tweet on Saturday, a lawyer for Cohen, Lanny Davis called Trump and Giuliani’s strategy “flawed” and the president’s Twitter statement against Cohen “false.”

“Rudy claims the tape is ‘exculpatory.’ Why so angry?” Davis added.

Before the election, the Trump campaign denied any knowledge of payment to McDougal, but the taped conversation could undermine those denials.

The existence of the audio recording was first reported by the New York Times, which said Trump and Cohen discussed a potential payment to McDougal.

Giuliani said the conversation involved reimbursing the parent company of the National Enquirer tabloid for McDougal’s story rights. The payment was never made, he said.

“It’s pretty clear from the tape, it’s the first time Trump is finding out … AMI had bought the rights from McDougal,” Giuliani said in a short interview on Saturday.

AMI, American Media Inc., is the parent company of the National Enquirer. Giuliani added that Cohen was speaking with Trump to tell him that information and Cohen recommended Trump buy the rights from AMI.

Giuliani had earlier denied Trump had an affair with McDougal. He said the tape would show that Trump makes clear that if there is going to be a payment, it should be done by check, which would be easily traced.

Speaking on Friday, Giuliani said the FBI seized the recording this year during a raid on Cohen’s office.

The FBI investigation stemmed in part from a referral by the U.S. special counsel’s office, which is looking into possible coordination during the election campaign between Trump’s aides and Russian officials. Moscow denies U.S. allegations that it interfered in the election and Trump denies any campaign ties to Russian officials.

A representative for McDougal has not responded to requests for comment. The White House had also declined comment.

McDougal has said she began a nearly year-long affair with Trump in 2006 shortly after his wife, Melania, gave birth.

She sold her story for $150,000 in August 2016 but it was never published by the National Enquirer, a practice known as “catch and kill” to prevent a potentially damaging story from becoming public. David Pecker, the chairman of parent company American Media Inc (AMI), is Trump’s friend.

Giuliani said the discussion of payment did not mean McDougal’s claim of an affair was true and characterized it as an attempt to resolve false allegations that were “personally damaging” to Trump.

Under U.S. election law, presidential candidates must disclose campaign contributions, which are defined as things of value given to a campaign in order to influence an election.

Giuliani said the proposed payment was a personal matter and not subject to campaign finance law.

The New Yorker magazine reported in February that Trump had an affair with McDougal at the same time he had a relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels and that the National Enquirer prevented McDougal’s story being made public.

The White House has said Trump denies having sex with Daniels.

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, and for possible campaign law violations linked to a $130,000 payment to Daniels and other matters related to Trump’s campaign, a person familiar with the investigation has told Reuters. Cohen has not been charged with any crime.

Reporting by Andrew Heavens, David Brunnstrom and Karen Freifeld; additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Nick Zieminski

 

Less than a fifth of children reunited with migrant parents as deadline looms

  • Only 364 of more than 2,500 children back with parents
  • Court has set deadline of 26 July for families to be reunited

July 20, 2018

Reuters and Guardian staff

A total of 364 of the more than 2,500 children separated from their parents in a US-Mexico border crackdown on illegal immigration have been reunited, officials disclosed in court late on Thursday, days before a reunification deadline.

The government has six more days to comply with the reunification order by the US district judge Dana Sabraw, who summoned the government attorneys to appear in his San Diego courtroom on Friday to account for progress.

Lawyers for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement had reported in a court filing late on Thursday that less than a fifth of the families with children aged five and older had been reunited since Sabraw’s order was issued more than three weeks ago.

It was unclear from the status report, filed as part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging parent-child separations at the border, exactly how many more reunifications were likely before the 26 July deadline.

Nearly 850 parents have been interviewed and cleared for reunification so far but another 229 parents have been deemed ineligible because of criminal records, or because they “waived” reunification or for other reasons, the report said. The rest are pending review.

The report also said more than 700 parents in question have final deportation orders, although Sabraw has barred the expulsion of those parents until at least a week after they regain their children so they have adequate time for legal counsel on their families’ best options

Children were seized from their parents by US officials at the border as part of a broader “zero-tolerance” crackdown on illegal immigration by the administration of Donald Trump, sparking an international outcry. The president ordered the practice stopped on 20 June.

Sabraw has used recent hearings to contest procedures that the government attorneys have said are meant to safeguard children in its custody, such as criminal checks of parents and DNA tests to ensure family relations.

The government blamed those measures for missing a 10 July deadline to reunite children aged under five, although the administration said they have now all since been returned to their parents.

The judge has accused the government of either acting in defiance of his order or lacking the resources to fix the mess it created.

Sabraw said at a hearing on Monday he was reassured that the government was finally putting the emphasis on reuniting families over lengthy procedures aimed at combating human trafficking that the judge said did not apply.

He may press the government about comments on Thursday by the homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, suggesting she might differ on the emphasis placed on speedy reunifications, saying “we will not cut corners”.

 

Secrecy News

From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2018, Issue No. 46

July 19, 2018

CAN A PRESIDENT AMEND REGULATIONS BY EXECUTIVE ORDER?

Does the President have the authority to unilaterally amend the Code of Federal Regulations by executive order?

The question arises because executive order 13843 issued by President Trump on July 10 to modify the way administrative law judges are appointed also purports to directly amend three provisions of the CFR.

Ordinarily, such regulations can only be amended by a formal rulemaking procedure involving public notice and an opportunity for public comment. That was not done here.

So a new publication from the Congressional Research Service inquires into the scope of presidential authority to amend federal regulations.

The tentative CRS conclusion is that while an executive order may itself be exempt from the regular rulemaking procedures, any agency implementation of the president’s executive order that involves changes to federal regulations would still have to follow those notice and comment procedures. See Can a President Amend Regulations by Executive Order?, CRS Legal Sidebar, July 18, 2018.

*

Federal agencies disburse more than $100 billion each year in “improper payments” — meaning payments that should not have been made, payments for goods or services that were not received, payments in the wrong amount, duplicate payments, and so on. Efforts to reduce such unjustified expenditures have not been successful. A new report from the Congressional Research Service reviews the trends, and finds that “Over the period of FY2004 through FY2017… improper payments have totaled $1.3 trillion.” See Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief, July 16, 2018.

*

Other notable new or updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Public Disclosure of Corporate Tax Returns, CRS Insight, July 16, 2018 (“Granting access to corporate tax returns could help to educate the public and inform policymakers by showing what corporations pay in taxes and which tax incentives they benefit from.”)

Brett M. Kavanaugh: Selected Primary Material, CRS Legal Sidebar, July 17, 2018

The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues, updated July 18, 2018

The Black Lung Program, the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and the Excise Tax on Coal: Background and Policy Options, July 18, 2018

Military Commission Judges Do Not Have Unilateral Power to Punish for Contempt, CRS Legal Sidebar, July 18, 2018

The Budget Control Act and the Defense Budget: Frequently Asked Questions, updated July 13, 2018

Cybersecurity: Data, Statistics, and Glossaries, updated July 16, 2018

The U.S. Trade Deficit: An Overview, CRS In Focus, July 18, 2018

Mexico’s 2018 Elections: Results and Potential Implications, CRS In Focus, July 17, 2018

China’s Actions in South and East China Seas: Implications for U.S. Interests–Background and Issues for Congress, updated July 17, 2018

U.S. Army’s Initial Maneuver, Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) System, CRS Insight, July 18, 2018

 

Germany remembers failed Hitler assassination with attack on populism

July 20, 2018 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned right-wing populism in Europe as he commemorated the 1944 plot to kill Hitler. The minister noted that some in the anti-Nazi resistance dreamt of a “European federation.”

 

by Ben Knight

DW

The German foreign minister marked the 74th anniversary of the failed plot by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler by condemning today’s right-wing populists and calling for a more united Europe.

The solemn military ceremony, in the courtyard of the Bendlerblock building in Berlin where Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and four of his co-conspirators were executed after their attempted coup failed on July 20, 1944, is usually framed as a celebration of the re-establishment of justice in Germany following the aberration of Nazism, but this year there was a clear note of defiance against new far-right populism in Europe and around the world.

Both Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Berlin Mayor Michael Müller used their speeches to draw parallels between the European resistance to Nazism and what Müller called “the duty of vigilance for the creeping establishment of intolerance and prejudices, of anti-Semitism and right-wing populism.”

Populists exploit the July 20 plot

The speakers also expressed outrage at attempts by far-right populists in Germany to stage their own commemorations for the July 20, 1944 plot – though without naming the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party directly.

“They claim for themselves the sole right to represent and recognize the true will of the people,” Robert von Steinau-Steinrück, chairman of the July 20, 1944 remembrance foundation, said in his opening remarks on Friday.

“Their actions and their language are totalitarian,” von Steinau-Steinrück added. “But the resistance was anti-totalitarian. For that reason I want to make clear once again – also in the names of the families of the relatives – that the foundation of July 20, 1944 distances itself in the strongest possible terms when right-wing populists try, as now happens every July 20, to use women and men of the resistance for their own aims. That is nothing less than abuse.” The hundreds of spectators in the courtyard applauded.

Foreign Minister Maas took up the theme, condemning as “intolerable” the fact that a flag designed by German resistance fighter Josef Wirmer is now sometimes flown at rallies organized by the anti-Muslim PEGIDA movement and neo-Nazis.

“Today those who claim their ‘right to resistance’ loudly abuse representatives of the people as ‘traitors of the people,’ reject remembrance as a ‘guilt cult,’ and defame the free media as ‘lying press’,” Maas said, while US President Donald Trump’s new ambassador Richard Grenell looked on among many foreign diplomats who attended the ceremony.

Resistance to Nazism and European unity

Maas also called on citizens not to remain silent. “Let us intervene when discussions among our family or friends drift into blunt resentments! Let us counter the doom and gloom scenarios of the right-wing populists with arguments and facts! Let us express complex points when nationalists dangle all-too-simple solutions!”

Maas went on to praise new initiatives to teach young people about the pan-European resistance to Nazism and fascism, and drew a connection between the resistance to the Third Reich and the dawn of European unity.

Invoking Adam von Trott zu Solz, an ally of von Stauffenberg who developed a vision for a politically united Europe before his execution by the Nazis in 1944, the minister said, “For him and his colleagues it was clear: peace in Europe could only be achieved by overcoming borders. His hopes rested on a European federation – with its own army, a customs union, a common currency, and a common supreme court.”

The ceremony, attended by surviving relatives of the German resistance, as well as the head of the German Army, General Eberhard Zorn, commemorated von Stauffenberg, his co-conspirators, and other Germans who lost their lives resisting the Nazi regime, including Sophie and Hans Scholl, Ulrich von Hassel, Julius Leber, and Walter Klingenbeck. The Bendlerblock building was one of the main Wehrmacht headquarters during World War II, and now houses the German Defense Ministry.

 

The Official Gestapo report on the 20th of July Assassination Plot

by Heinrich Müller, SS-Gruppenführer, Amtschef, Reichssicherheitshauptamt-IV-

Sonderkommission 20.7. 1944.

Berlin, den 26. Juli 1944.

Report on the assassination attempt against the Führer on 20 July, 1944.

I.

On 20 July, 1944, at approximately 12:50 PM, an explosion occurred in the “Wolfsschanze,” Restricted Area “A,” visitor’s barracks, during the situation conference. The Führer  suffered only slight injuries, although in the immediate vicinity of the center of the explosion.

Severely injured were:

General Korten,

Colonel Brandt and

Stenographer Berger,

…who have since died of their injuries, and

General Bodenschatz,

General Schmundt,

General Scherff and

Lt. Colonel Borgmann.

Less severely injured were:

General Buhle,

General Heusinger,

Rear Admiral v. Puttkamer and

Naval Captain Assmann.

Others present received lighter injuries.

II.

Immediately after he learned of the assassination attempt, the Reichsführer-SS appointed a Special Commission of the Reich Main Security Office to conduct a full investigation which began the same day.

The Reichsführer-SS noted in his report to the RSHA that the perpetrator of the attempt was presumed to be Colonel Graf von Stauffenberg, Chief of Staff to the Commander of the Reserve Army. He had been present at the briefing session, then left without notice before the detonation. Immediately thereafter, he flew to Berlin by aircraft.

III.

The locality of the incident is to be found in the Situation Room in which the daily situation conferences were held, a 12.5 meter long and 5 m wide room, in whose center is a large map table, on the right side a round table and left, a writing table and a phonograph. The immediate area and the furniture was heavily damaged. Right of the entrance was a 55 centimeter hole in the floor. For a wider radius, floor was depressed and charred. Points of impact of metal fragments not detectable, but splinters of wood and leather fragments are embedded into the wood. Bomb crater shows that the explosion occurred above the surface of the floor.

Reconstructed fragments of the right section of the three sections of the table clearly show the direction of the blast wave. This is indicated in photographs and sketches.

Lower pressure wave from detonation continued through cavities under floor of the entire barracks, noticeable by an upward buckling of the floor. Upper pressure wave destroyed the situation room to a large extent and exited through windows and doors, as well as through partition walls. Very exact sifting of mass of rubble has led to discovery of extremely small leather and metal fragments, obviously from a brief case; of two pieces of sheet metal and two compression springs from English chemical-mechanical time fuze detonators; also, part of flat iron pliers. Other material discovered has no obvious connection with these findings.

IV.

Recovered leather fragments have been identified by witnesses as belonging to Stauffenberg’s briefcase. Small parts of the fuze found at the locale come from two fuzes that are of the same type as the two English chemical-mechanical time fuzes found along the roadway. As two compression springs from this type of time fuze were found at the site of the explosion, the explosive charge must have contained two such time fuzes. The charge that was found along the roadway was also arranged for two fuzes. Therefore the explosive that was used for the attempt was presumably of exactly the same kind as that which was found later. According to the report of an explosive expert, the extent of damage at the site of the blast corresponds to the potential power of the recovered charge. The driver of the car that took Stauffenberg to the airport noted that he threw an object out the window in the general area from which explosives were recovered and the driver has supplied an affidavit.

Thus, Stauffenberg’s complicity has been objectively ascertained.

V.

As Chief of Staff under General Fromm, Stauffenberg has repeatedly taken part in briefings at the Führer’s headquarters. The locale was therefore well known to him. He landed at Rastenberg airport 20 July, 1944, at 10:15AM. Major General Stieff, chief of the Organizational Section of the Army General Staff, and 1st Lt. von Haeften, Stauffenberg’s orderly, arrived at the same time. Stauffenberg went directly to “Wolfsschanze,” Stieff to Army High Command quarters, von Haeften first with Stieff, was later to meet Stauffenberg at “Wolfsschanze.”

Stauffenberg had breakfast in the officers’ mess with headquarters commander and was later called to scheduled conference with General Buhle. General von Thadden, chief of staff of Military District I, Königsberg, also participated in this conference.

Afterwards, Buhle, von Thadden and Stauffenberg went to a conference with Field Marshal Keitel.

Throughout the entire time, Stauffenberg kept his briefcase with him. When all persons mentioned were ready to proceed to the daily situation conference from Keitel’s bunker at 12:30 PM, Stauffenberg went to a room next door with his briefcase for a short time, so that the other persons had to wait for him. Presumably while there he activated the time fuses by pushing them in, probably with the assistance of the pair of flat pliers as his right hand and two fingers of his left hand were missing. Activating the time fuses without such aid would have been difficult for him. In the situation room, Stauffenberg was presented to the Führer as a participant in the briefing session and was welcomed by the Führer. Following this, Stauffenberg went to the map table, putting the brief case under the table to the right of Colonel Brandt. After a short time, he left the situation room and also left Restricted Area A.

Stauffenberg’s absence was noted before the explosion, as he was expected to provide information. General Buhle looked for him. After the explosion, the telephone operator, Sgt. Adam, reported that he had seen Stauffenberg leave shortly after the start of the briefing session. Presumably latter was perpetrator of the explosion, said sergeant. From further interrogations and investigations, the following was developed: At about noon, General Fellgiebel, chief of the military signals office, appeared at the office of the headquarters signals officer (Lt. Col. Sander) in order to discuss several official matters with him. First, Fellgiebel and Sander went together to see Lt. Col. Waizenegger of General Jodl’s staff on signals matters. Later, Fellgiebel and Sander returned to the latter’s office in Bunker 88.

At about 12:30 PM, they noted that Field Marshal Keitel, accompanied by Stauffenberg and others, was headed for the situation conference.

In order to make sure that Stauffenberg would come to General Fellgiebel after the session, Sander telephoned Sgt. Adam and told him to have Stauffenberg come to Bunker 88 after the conclusion of the session.

Shortly after that, Lt. von Haeften appeared in Sander’s office and asked Fellgiebel for assistance in procuring a vehicle as Colonel Stauffenberg had to leave immediately. Accordingly, Sander telephoned headquarters to request a car. At that time he was asked by headquarters to remind Stauffenberg that he was expected for lunch with the headquarters commander, Lt. Col. Streve, and that General von Thadden would also be present.

While this phone conversation was in progress, Stauffenberg had looked into the room and announced himself to General Fellgiebel as being ready for their talk. Then Fellgiebel and Stauffenberg went out in front of the bunker and discussed fortifications in the East. Sander joined them and reported that a car was coming, adding that Stauffenberg was expected for lunch with the commander. Stauffenberg thereupon told Lt. Col. Sander that he first had to go back to the briefing session once more then would come to lunch. He also pointed out that he had a car at his disposal. When Sander had informed headquarters accordingly and returned to the front of the bunker, the explosion happened. At that moment Sander noticed a very nervous demeanor on the part of Stauffenberg. In reply to Fellgiebel’s question as to what was the matter, Sander stated, without giving much thought to the incident, that occasionally someone shot a gun or a land mine exploded.

Then Stauffenberg said he was not going back to the briefing session but instead would go to lunch with Lt. Col. Streve. He drove away with von Haeften, actually in order to go to the airfield.

The event in the visitors’ barracks was noted by Guard post I, so that the lieutenant on duty ordered the barriers closed. Accordingly, Stauffenberg was halted by the guard. He told the guard commander that he must get to the airfield urgently. As his pass was in order and additionally he was known to the guard commander, the latter let him pass, especially as the general alarm had not yet been sounded but came only 11⁄2 minutes later. At the outer southern guard post, Stauffenberg was halted again. He went to the guard commander, Sgt. Kolbe, whom he told that he had by all means to get to the airfield at once. Instead of being persuaded, Kolbe pointed out the closed barriers. Then Kolbe telephoned headquarters, at Stauffenberg’s request, and spoke with the adjutant, von Möllendorf, captain of cavalry, who was acting in the absence of the commander who was now at the scene of the explosion. Stauffenberg told Möllendorf that he had received the commander’s permission to leave the security area and that he had to take off by 1:15 PM at all events. The adjutant, who did not know the reason for the alarm that had been sounded, did know that Colonel Stauffenberg was authorized to be at the Wolfsschanze and agreed, on the strength of Stauffenberg’s statements, that he could depart and passed this to Sgt. Kolbe.

In this situation it should be considered that:

  1. The alarm is sounded rather frequently.
  2. Stauffenberg’s papers were in order.
  3. Since Stauffenberg was known as a seriously disabled man and an officer in excellent standing, von Möllendorf had no reason to be initially suspicious.

Stauffenberg also passed the outermost gate and took off at 1:15 PM from the Rastenberg airfield for Berlin-Rangsdorf. Inquiry as to the origin of the aircraft has revealed that it was provided for Stauffenberg by order of General Wagner, Army Quartermaster General, by arrangement with the 1st Air Liaison Wing (2) Berlin, from Lötzen airfield.       The aircraft was scheduled in any case to go to Berlin.

VI.

In light of the above report, the circumstances of the attempted assassination and the arrival and departure of the perpetrator can be considered as having been objectively determined.

It cannot be concluded that the security measures existing as a safeguard against such attempts broke down in this instance because the possibility that a General Staff officer summoned to a briefing session would lend himself to such a crime was not considered.

The incident does, however, require consideration of the future security measures to be taken for the protection of the Führer in all circumstances. Accordingly, proposals with regard to security measures will be submitted separately as per agreement with the RSHA.

 

Events in Berlin, July 20, 1944

by Otto-Ernst Remer, Generalmajor a.D.

General Remer, at that time a Lt. Colonel, was commander of the Berlin guard regiment and was ordered by the plotters to secure important sectors of the capitol. His prompt actions in putting down the revolt subsequently earned him the promotion to General and the enduring hatred of the postwar American-controlled German government and its many left-wing supporters.

My assignment to the guard regiment “Großdeutschland” in Berlin was actually a form of rest and recreation — my first leave from the front — after my many wounds and in recognition of my combat decorations, including the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and the Close Combat Badge in Silver (forty-eight days of close combat). Later I would be wounded again. In all I was to command the guard regiment for only four months, since I felt obligated to be back with my comrades at the front.

My mission as commander of the guard regiment “Großdeutschland,” which I took over at the end of May 1944, was, aside from purely ceremonial duties, to safeguard the Reich government and the Reich capital. Since there were more than a million foreign workers in Berlin and its immediate vicinity, the possibility of internal unrest had to be taken into account. Around noon on July 20, 1944, 1st Lieutenant Dr. Hans Hagen, who had been severely wounded at the front, concluded his lecture on cultural history before the officers and NCO’s of the regiment. He was attached to my regiment only administratively and in no way as a National Socialist political officer, as has often been reported. I was the regiments’ sole leader, politically as well as militarily.

I had invited Hagen to lunch afterward in my quarters at the Rathenow barracks, together with my adjutant, 1st Lieutenant Siebert. Siebert, who had lost an eye in combat, was a pastor of the Confessional Church Protestant Church which he attended services every Sunday at the Garrison Church, with my express permission, although I myself had left the church. Among us personal freedom was the rule. Nor did it bother me that, after having been an SA Stormtrooper and a member of the party during the years of struggle before Hitler came to power, he had resigned from both organizations to protest defamatory remarks by his local party leader concerning the ancestry of Jesus Christ. Lt. Siebert suffered no adverse consequences due to his resignation.

In those days that sort of thing was entirely possible, with no repercussions. Indeed, before I chose Siebert, due to his character, as my adjutant, he confided to me that while still a Stormtrooper he had broken into a Gestapo office in order to obtain documents incriminating colleagues in the Confessional Church. For me Siebert’s frank admissions were just a further evidence of the personal élan that recommended him as a trustworthy adjutant That’s the way it was in the Third Reich, so widely execrated nowadays. Neither in my unit nor in the officer corps as a whole did there prevail the stubborn narrow- mindedness, not to mention the sort of terror against dissenting opinions, that is carried on against nationalists in West Germany today by the Office for Constitutional Protection. Nor have I ever heard that Pastor Siebert considered himself to be a “resistance fighter” or that he later pretended to have been one. Characteristic of our open-mindedness was a discourse which took place after lunch between Hagen, the top-notch cultural historian, and Pastor Siebert concerning the Heliand .The question involved the extent to which traditional Germanic structures were invoked in order to render the new and alien doctrine understandable. Thus Christ was represented as a warlord, and his disciples the warrior band. After a while, I lost interest in the two scholarly gamecocks’ wordy contention, so I placed a reconciliatory bottle of wine on the table and headed for the swimming pool at the nearby sports arena to keep myself fit for my next front assignment.

During the early afternoon of July 20, 1944 my regiment, like all units of the Replacement Army, was alerted by the codeword “Valkyrie.” “Valkyrie” provided for the mobilization of the Replacement Army in case of internal unrest. While my regiment automatically implemented the prescribed measures, I was summoned from the swimming pool. In compliance with my orders I drove immediately to my designated post, the Berlin City Command Center, directly across from the “Eternal Watch” honor guard. While the other unit commanders waited in the anteroom, I alone was admitted to the city commander, Major General von Hase, and given the following briefing on the situation and my assignment:

The Führer has had a fatal accident! Civil disorder has broken out The Army has assumed executive authority! The guard regiment is ordered to concentrate a strong force, reinforced for counterattack, to seal off the government quarter so that nobody, not even a general or a government minister, can enter or leave! To support you in sealing off the streets and subways I’m seconding Lieutenant Colonel Wolters to your command!

As these orders were being issued, I was struck by the circumstance that a younger officer of the general staff, Major Hayessen, assisted, while the former and senior general staff officer, whom I knew personally, stood about, idle and noticeably nervous.

I was naturally very shocked by the general’s words, since I felt that with Hitler’s death the possibility of a favorable turn in the war had almost disappeared. Immediately, I asked:

Is the Führer actually dead? Was it an accident or has he been assassinated? Where have civil disturbances occurred? I saw nothing unusual while driving here through Berlin Why is executive authority passing to the Army and not to the Wehrmacht? Who is the Führer’s successor? According to Hitler’s testament Hermann Goring is automatically his successor. Has he issued any orders or proclamations?

Since I received neither detailed information nor clear answers to my questions, the situation became even murkier, and I felt a certain sense of mistrust even from the beginning. When I tried to get a brief glimpse of the papers which lay before me on the table, above all to see who had signed the orders, Major Hayessen ostentatiously gathered them up and put them in a folder. As I returned to my regiment I was oppressed by the notion that “Hitler’s dead, now confusion reigns, various people will probably try to seize power.” I contemplated the future struggles for succession.

I decided that, in any case, I would not allow myself to be misused in my capacity as commander of the only elite unit on active duty in Berlin. My regiment was made up entirely of picked, proven combat soldiers with high decorations for bravery. Every officer sported the Knights Cross. I bore in mind as well the events of 1918, after which the Berlin guard units had been reproached for their hesitancy, which contributed to the success of the revolution. I had no desire to expose myself to a similar reproach before history.

When I returned to my troops, I gathered my officers and informed them of the situation and our orders. The alleged death of Adolf Hitler sent officers and men into shock. Never in my life, even at Germany’s final defeat, have I witnessed such despondency. Despite the numerous stories which flourish today, that is the absolute truth: I vouch for it

I made no secret to my officers that there was a lot that was still unclear, indeed mysterious to me, and that I would in no way allow myself or my unit to be exploited. I expressly demanded unconditional confidence and absolute obedience, just as at the front, from every one of my officers. This somewhat unusual demand was due to a telephone call I received during the briefing from a general I didn’t recognize — it was probably Major General Friedrich Olbricht — at the High Command of the Replacement Army, requisitioning a company from my unit for a special assignment. This demand I explicitly rejected, pointing out that I had been entrusted with a clearly defined mission and that dispersing my forces didn’t seem advisable.

After the briefing I received two reports which further disturbed me. The first was from 1st Lt Dr. Hagen, a member of my staff, who informed me that while on the way to the barracks he had seen Field Marshal Brauchitsch, in full uniform, driving his car on the streets of Berlin. This was strange, for Brauchitsch was retired. Given the circumstances, his appearance in uniform seemed remarkable. It later turned out that the officer seen by Dr. Hagen can’t have been Brauchitsch. Probably it was one of the conspirators.

The second disconcerting report was from Lt Colonel Wolters, who had been attached to my regiment as a liaison officer by the Command Center. He told me that I mustn’t believe he was there to keep tabs on me as an informer. Such a remark was completely uncalled for. Not only was it incongruous and annoying, it awoke precisely the suspicion it was designed to allay: somebody had something up his sleeve. As it turned out, the briefing I gave my officers caused the colonel misgivings. In order to avoid responsibility, he simply went home — an unthinkable course of action for an officer on active duty.

My doubts that Major General von Hase’s description of the situation matched the facts, doubts strengthened by another version which had Hitler murdered by the SS, convinced me that I had to determine the facts for myself. I decided to telephone every command post I could. This was just basic reconnaissance, a matter of course for every commander before committing his troops. Needless to say this type of thinking and acting is quite at odds with the notorious corpse-like obedience that denigrators of the Third Reich’s army attribute to it.

Among other things I decided to send 1st Lt Dr. Hagen, who had eagerly volunteered, to the Reich Defense Commissioner for Berlin, Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Dr. Hagen had earlier worked under Dr. Goebbels in the Propaganda Ministry, and I believed that by dispatching him to Dr. Goebbels I would be informed about not only the military but also the political situation. Gauleiter and Defense Commissioner for Berlin as well as Propaganda Minister, Dr. Goebbels was in consequence of the former positions patron of the “Grossßdeutschland” Division, which was made up of soldiers from all the provinces of the Reich.

About an hour and a half after the “Valkyrie” order was given, my regiment, by then combat-ready, moved into the areas to be sealed off in accordance with its orders. The normal guard units, such as those at the War Memorial and the Bendlerblock, the headquarters of the Commander of the Replacement Army and of the Defense Production Office, remained at their posts. At about 4:15 p.m. Lt. Arends, the duty officer in the Bendlerblock, reported to me that he had been ordered to seal off all entrances to the building. A Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim, whom Lt Arends didn’t know, had given him this assignment Lt Arends had further been instructed by General Olbricht to open fire on any SS units that might approach.

After personally inspecting my troops in their new positions, at about 5:00 p.m. I returned once more to the City Commander, General von Hase, to inform him that I had carried out his orders. At this time I was asked to established my command post there in the City Command Center, opposite the War Memorial. I had already set up a message center, commanded by Lt Gees, in the Rathenow Barracks, with which I maintained telephone contact Then von Hase gave me an additional assignment, to seal off a block of buildings north of the Anhalt Station (he showed me where on the map), very tightly.

As I commenced carrying out these orders, I ascertained that the block designated housed the Main Office of Reich Security. The unclearness, not to mention the deception, of this misleading order, could only strengthen my suspicions. Why wasn’t I given explicit orders to place the Main Office of Reich Security under guard? It goes without saying that I would have carried out even this order.

Thus, on my third visit to General von Hase, I asked him directly “Herr General, why am I receiving orders formulated so obscurely? Why wasn’t I simply told to pay special attention to the Main Office of Reich Security?” Von Hase was quite nervous and excited. He didn’t even respond to my question. If one wonders today how a young officer like me could allow himself such liberties with a general, it should be borne in mind that we young commanders saw ourselves as battle-hardened, proven combat leaders, and we had scant regard for the chair borne warriors of the home front.

In this connection I should like to point out something based on my long experience at the front just as in the First World War it was the veteran commanders of the shock companies who epitomized the front experience, so in the Second World War it was the young commanders, come of age on the front, who had forged with their troops a sworn fellowship of combat. These men could not only fight, they wanted to fight, particularly since they believed in Germany’s victory.

While in General von Hase’s office I overheard from a conversation between the General and his First General Staff Officer that Goebbels was now to be arrested, and that this assignment was to be mine. Since I found this an unpleasant duty in light of my attempt to contact Goebbels, I jumped in and told General von Hase:

Herr General I consider myself unsuitable for this assignment As you know, I’ve been with the “Grossßdeutschland” Division, I’ve worn its stripe, for years. For me your mission would be very unchivalrous, for as you are doubtless aware, Dr. Goebbels, in his capacity as Gauleiter of Berlin, is at the same time the patron of the “Großdeutschland.” Only two weeks ago I paid Goebbels my first call as new commander of the guard regiment. On these grounds I consider it inappropriate that I, in particular, be ordered to arrest my patron.

Possibly von Hase sympathized with my arguments; from whatever grounds he now ordered the military police to take Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels into custody.

Around 5:30 p.m. Lt Dr. Hagen finally met with Dr. Goebbels in his private residence, at 20 Hermann-Göring Strasse beside the Brandenburg Gate, after having tried in vain to see him at the Propaganda Ministry. The Reich Minister had no idea of the danger he was in. It was only after Hagen, in order to emphasize how serious the situation was, pointed out vehicles from the guard regiment as they drove by, that Goebbels took fright. He cried, This is impossible, what shall we do?”

To which Hagen suggested, “The best thing would be for you to summon my commander here.” Goebbels asked curtly: “Can your commander be trusted?” “I’d lay down my life for him!” replied Hagen.

As I was going down the corridor just after leaving the City Commander’s office, I finally found my bearings as a result of Hagen’s contacting Goebbels.

Hagen had driven back to the barracks, given Gees his instructions, and then driven to my new command post at the Command Center, which was being heavily guarded. To avoid any hindrance, he did not enter the building, but informed my adjutant, Lt Siebert, and my orderly, Lt. Buck, of the situation, asking them to inform me without delay. They reported as follows:

There’s a completely new situation! This is probably a military putsch! Nothing further is known! The Reich Defense Commissioner requests that you come to him as quickly as possible! If you’re not there within twenty minutes, he will assume that you are being forcibly restrained. In that case he will be compelled to alert the Waffen-SS. To avoid civil war, he has until then ordered the Leibstandarte to stay where it is.

When I learned these things from my adjutant, I decided to see General von Hase one more time. That I still trusted the Major General, even then, is shown by my having Lt. Buck repeat to me once again, in the presence of von Hase, the message from Goebbels. I didn’t want to seem an intriguer; as a veteran combat officer it was my practice to lay all my cards on the table. Von Hase bluntly rejected my request to comply with the Reich Defense Commissioner’s summons so that I might clarify the situation in the interest of all concerned. After leaving the Command Center without interference, I deliberated, together with my adjutant, Lt. Siebert -today a pastor in Nuremberg — as to what I should do. My key role in this difficult and obscure situation, which I had not caused, was increasingly clear to me. I felt that by now my head was on the line too. After evaluating the situation as carefully as I could at that time, I decided that in spite of von Hase’s order to the contrary I would go to Goebbels. My reasons were as follows:

  • First, I didn’t want to be deprived of my freedom of action under any circumstances, as often happened at the front Often there was a very thin line between being awarded a high decoration or being sentenced to death by a court martial.
  • Second, I felt myself still bound by my oath; so far the report of the Führer’s death was at least doubtful. Thus, I had to act in keeping with the oath I swore on the flag.
  • Third, at the front I had many times made responsible decisions on my own, decisions the correctness of which was confirmed by my being awarded high decorations. Many a situation can only be mastered by decisive action. I felt as one with my comrades at the front, who wouldn’t understand were I to stand idly by out of a lack of civic courage. I could not allow myself the responsibility of letting things come to a fatal head. I thought of 1918.
  • Fourth, I was under compulsion, since Goebbels had plans to alert the Waffen-SS, raising the possibility that a fraternal war between two forces, each proven in combat, might break out As the commander of the only elite unit in Berlin on active duty I was responsible for the lives of the men entrusted to me. To employ them in a totally confused affair was not my duty.

Nevertheless, I didn’t entirely trust Goebbels either, for I still assumed that Hitler was dead, and believed a struggle for succession was possible. I was far from wanting to let myself and my unit be thrust into a latterday Diadochian struggle. Inasmuch as Goebbels’ role remained unclear, I took along Lt Buck and a platoon of soldiers. Their orders were to come and get me if I didn’t emerge from Goebbels’ residence in fifteen minutes.

Then, after releasing the safety catch of my pistol, I entered the Reich Minister’s office, where I had been eagerly awaited, and asked Goebbels to orient me. With that Goebbels asked me to tell him everything I knew. I did so, although I didn’t reveal that von Hase intended to arrest him, since I was still unclear as to Goebbels’ role in all this. When he asked me what I intended to do, I told him that I would stick to my military orders and that I was determined to carry them out Even if the Führer were no longer alive, I felt bound by my oath and could only act in accord with my conscience as an officer. At that Goebbels looked at me in amazement and cried: “What are you talking about? The Führer is alive! I’ve spoken with him on the telephone. The assassination failed! You’ve been tricked.”

This information came as a complete surprise. When I heard that the Führer was still alive, I was greatly relieved. But I was still suspicious. Therefore I asked Goebbels to assure me, on his word of honor, that what he said was true and that he stood unconditionally behind the Führer. Goebbels hesitated at first, because he didn’t understand the reason for my request It was only after I repeated that as an officer I needed his word of honor in order to see my way clear that he obliged.

My wish to telephone the Führer’s headquarters coincided with his. Within seconds I was connected to the Wolf’s Lair at Rastenburg in East Prussia. To my great surprise Hitler himself came on the line Geobbels quickly explained the situation to the Führer and then handed me the receiver.

Adolf Hitler said to me, approximately, the following: “Major Remer, can you hear me, do you recognize my voice? Do you understand me?” I replied affirmatively, but I was nevertheless uncertain. It flashed through my mind that someone could possibly be imitating the Führer’s voice. To be sure I had become personally acquainted with the Führer’s voice during the previous year, when, after he had awarded me the Oak Leaf to the Knight’s Cross, I had been able to speak alone and completely frankly with him for an hour about the cares and miseries of the front. It was only as he continued speaking over the telephone that I became convinced that I was indeed speaking with Hitler. He went on:

As you can tell I’m alive. The assassination has failed, providence didn’t intend it. A small clique of ambitious, disloyal, and traitorous officers wanted to kill me. Now we’ve got these saboteurs of the front. We’ll make short work of this treacherous plague, by brute force if necessary.

From this moment on, Major Remer, I am giving you complete authority in Berlin. You are responsible to me personally and exclusively for the immediate restoration of peace and security in the Reich capital. You will remain under my personal command for this purpose until Reichsführer Himmler arrives there and relieves you of responsibility.

The Führer’s words were very calm, determined, and convincing. I could breathe a sigh of relief, for the conversation had removed all my doubts. The soldier’s oath which I had sworn to the Führer was still binding, and the guiding principle of my actions. Now my only concern was to eliminate misunderstandings and to avoid unnecessary bloodshed by acting quickly and decisively.

Goebbels asked me to inform him of the content of my conversation with Hitler, and asked me what I intended to do next He placed the downstairs rooms of his house at my disposal, and I set up a new command post there. By this time it was 6:30 p.m. The first report of the bomb attack in the Führer’s headquarters was broadcast over the Greater German Radio Network around fifteen minutes later.

Due to my visit to the Berlin City Command Center I had a rough idea, for the most part, of the dispositions of the units advancing on Berlin. To let their commanders know the real situation, I dispatched staff officers in all directions to bring the word. Success was total. The question “The Führer — with him or against him?” worked miracles. I would like to state unequivocally that every one of these commanding officers, who like me were outraged at what had happened, subordinated themselves unconditionally to my command, although they all outranked me. Thus, they demonstrated that their soldier’s oaths were binding for them as well. Difficulties, temporary in nature, arose here and there, where personal briefings were not immediately possible.

Due to the prevailing uncertainty and because of misunderstanding – some thought that the guard regiments sealing off its designated area meant that it had mutinied — on two occasions my regiment came within a hair’s breadth of being fired on by other units. At the Fehrbelliner Platz an armored brigade had assembled at the order of the conspirators, but an order radioed by Lt. General Guderian removed it from the conspirators’ control. Thereafter this unit undertook reconnaissance and mistakenly concluded that the guard regiment “Großdeutschland” was on the side of the conspirators and had apprehended Reich Minister Goebbels. Several of the brigade’s tanks advanced tentatively, and bloodshed would have been a near thing had I not intervened personally to clear up the confusion.

The same thing happened in front of the Bendlerblock, the headquarters of the Commander of the Replacement Army, when a Panzergrenadier company tried to take over from my guard, which had been authorized by the Führer. The energetic intervention of officers from my regiment made possible a clarification at the last moment and prevented German soldiers from firing on each other. Here too the question “Hitler-with him or against him?” proved decisive. I had sent one of my company commanders, Captain Schlee, to the Bendlerblock in order to clear things up. At this point I had no idea that the leadership of the conspiracy had its Headquarters there. Schlee had orders to withdraw our guards, because I wanted, as much as possible, to avoid bloodshed. When he arrived he was ordered to see General Olbricht. He took the precaution of telling the guard to bring him out by force in the event he didn’t return promptly. In fact he was placed under arrest in the General’s waiting room by Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim, who told him to stay there. When Mertz went into Olbricht’s office, however, Schlee simply walked away.

When he returned to our guard, Lt. Arends informed him of a strange occurrence. He’d heard shouts coming from an upper story of the building and just then a typewriter and a telephone came flying through the window and into the courtyard. Schlee did an about-face and led a patrol back up to find out what was going on. He quickly identified the room from which the noise was coming; it was locked, but not under guard, and the key was still in the lock Inside was General von Kortzfleisch, commanding general of the Berlin Military District it was he who had thrown the objects out the window. The general had been summoned to the Bendlerblock to receive his orders. On his arrival, he steadfastly refused to cooperate with the conspirators. He was arrested and locked in, but left unguarded. Now that he was free, he gave us our first information as to the leadership of the conspiracy.

At 7:30 p.m. our guards were relieved, in keeping with orders. Olbricht had to replace our guard detail with his own officers. The commander of the new guard was Lt. Colonel Fritz von der Lancken. As he was moving out Schlee learned from a captain in the communications center in the Benderblock that Major Remer had been ordered by the Führer to put down the putsch. They had been able to overhear my conversation with the Führer, and recognized that the telexes they were to send out were the conspirators’ orders. Thus the men in the communications center deliberately delayed sending the messages, or in some cases didn’t dispatch them at all.

Truly a masterfully prepared plan: the conspirators had no accomplices! Furthermore, telexes and telephone messages continued to come in from the Führer Headquarters, making the actual state of affairs quite clear.

Countless orders were given that late afternoon of the twentieth of July. Among other measures I moved the replacement brigade of the “Großdeutschland” from Cottbus to the outskirts of Berlin as a combat reserve. The brigade, too, had gotten different orders from the conspirators beforehand. Its tried and true commander, Colonel Schulte-Neuhaus, who had lost an arm in combat and whom I knew from the front, reported to my command post I introduced him to Goebbels. Meanwhile I concentrated my own troops more tightly around the Reich Chancery complex, and formed a strong combat reserve in the garden of Goebbels’ official residence. Goebbels asked me to address the troops assembled there, which I did. Their outrage at the traitorous goings-on was so great that they would have torn every single conspirator to pieces, had they been there.

Then I sealed off the City Command Center, for I’d gotten the impression that there was a number of questionable characters there. I also learned that after my refusal to arrest Goebbels, the military police had been ordered to do so. I waited in vain for them to appear. Later I heard that not a single unit was ready to arrest Dr. Goebbels, so that it was left to von Hase himself The City Commander was at this point at the headquarters of the deputy commander, to which he had driven in order to work out further measures with the general, who had been installed there by the Conspirators. They had discussed things for two hours without coming to a decision, typical behavior for these combat-shy conspirators.

After General von Hase’s return to the City Command Center was |reported to me, I asked him over the telephone to come by my command post at Goebbels’ residence in order to clarify the situation. At first he refused my invitation, and demanded that, since I was his subordinate, I should report to him at the Command Center. It was only after I informed him that I had been ordered personally by the Führer to restore peace and order, as his immediate subordinate; that thus von Hase was under my orders; and that I would come and get him if he didn’t appear of his own free will, that the general arrived. At this point I was still under the impression that von Hase, who had often been my guest at the officers’ club, who frequently expressed his solidarity with the soldiers at the front, and who on no account omitted a “Sieg Heil!” to his beloved Führer from any speech, had been deceived, just as I had been, and was unaware of the facts. Therefore I apologized for my unusual treatment. On his arrival von Hase was affability personified; he even praised me for my independence and decisiveness, and for seeking out Goebbels, by which I had averted a good deal of mischief.

Even with Goebbels von Hase played the innocent, and acted as if he had no inkling of any conspiracy. He was asked to stand by for further information, and a room was placed at his disposal. As von Hase left Goebbels’ office, there was an embarrassing incident, which made me, as a German officer, blush for shame. In these very tense circumstances, von Hase stated that he had been busy the whole day and hadn’t had a thing to eat. Goebbels immediately offered to have a sandwich prepared and asked him if he would like a glass of Mosel or Rhine wine as well. As soon as von Hase had left the office, Goebbels sneered:

‘My name is Hare [Hase], I know nothing.’ That’s the stuff our revolutionary putsch generals are made of. With the irons still in the fire they want to be wined and dined, and call their mommies on the telephone. In their place I’d see my tongue ripped out before I’d make such contemptible requests.

Two events illustrate how little thought and planning went into the putsch. My conversations and orders were routed through the same communications center in the Bendlerblock, headquarters of the conspiracy, from which the plotters’ orders were being disseminated n all directions. The communications officers could have delayed my orders or not transmitted them at all or they could have interrupted my telephone calls, none of which they did. I even received a message from the Reich Broadcasting Service, inquiring about what was going on. As a result, I was able to give the order that under no circumstances was any unscheduled transmission to be made. As a result this important communications medium was denied to the plotters as well. What transpired at the Broadcasting Center on the Masurenallee? Major Jacob had been ordered to occupy the Broadcasting Center. Astonishingly enough he had been ordered neither to broadcast any announcements nor to shut down the station. He attempted to telephone the conspirators to report his occupation of the radio station and to request additional orders. He had no luck, however he wasn’t put through, as happened at many offices. For front-line soldiers the loss of telephone connections was a frequent occurrence. In such a case the normal procedure was to establish radio communications or to send a courier. Major Jacob had a teleprinter at his disposal as well, but he used none of these methods. Stauffenberg, the General Staff officer who planned the putsch, gave no thought to furnishing motorcycle couriers — such trivial details were studiously overlooked!

Rudolf-Günther Wagner, the man who was to broadcast the conspirators’ proclamations, said later:

I had known for years that I was to broadcast the proclamation on the day of the putsch I awaited with feverish excitement the arrival of the lieutenant who was to bring me the proclamation. Unfortunately I waited in vain, until I heard from Goebbels’ loudspeakers that the assassination had failed.

As is now well known, General Lindemann, who had the text of the proclamation, was nowhere to be found. General Beck was not willing to step in; he ordered Hans-Bernd Gisevius, a conspirator with the Abwehr, to bring the proclamation. First, however, Gisevius had to speedily draft a new statement, while the conspirators Stauffenberg, Hoepner, Yorck, Schwerin, and Schulenburg shouted suggestions at him. For this fiasco, too, Stauffenberg, the “manager” of the conspiracy, bears responsibility. To keep a broadcasting station in operation requires skilled and trustworthy personnel. A team had been ordered to the City Command Center but waited there idly until it was arrested during the counteraction. Hans Kasper, who was part of Operation Jacob, later commented:

It was around that time that the twentieth of July collapsed. From the perspective of a radio editor it was tragic. Tragic because the way in which details were handled made it obvious that this revolt had had very lithe chance of succeeding.

In the meantime Lt. Schlee had reported to me what was happening at the Bendlerblock. I knew nothing of the inside story, nor that Lt. General Fromm, Commander in Chief of the l Replacement Army, had withdrawn from the plot and been arrested by the conspirators. Schlee was further ordered, after our guards had been relieved, to surround and seal off the Bendlerblock, without entering the buildings. At about 7:00 p.m. I felt I had the situation in Berlin in hand. The tension began to subside.

General Remer’s additional remarks

The uprising, or, better said, the revolt, of July 20, 1944, failed not because of my intervention, but rather because of the inner lack of goals and conceptualization by its heterogeneous participants, apparently a privileged but subdued nobility class, who were, of course, united in their rejection of Hitler, but who were completely disunited in all other issues. The putsch failed because it began with unclear ideas, was prepared with insufficient means, and was carried out with almost astonishing awkwardness. Moreover, it is also known that no political support was promised from outside of Germany, which meant that the only possible result would have been unconditional surrender.

No one needs to ask what would have happened if the July 20, 1944, undertaking had succeeded. The German eastern front, which at that time was involved in extremely serious defensive battles, would undoubtedly have collapsed as a result of the civil war that inevitably would have broken out, and the attendant interruption of supplies… A collapse of the eastern front, however, would not only have meant the deportation of further millions of German soldiers into the death camps of Russian captivity, but would also have prevented the evacuation of countless women and children who lived in the eastern territories of the Reich, or who had been evacuated to those areas as a result of the terror attacks from the air by the western Allies.

Precisely because of his experiences on the eastern front, every thinking soldier knew what would happen to us if we were to lose this war. German soldiers were quite deeply convinced of the necessity of this struggle in the interest of the survival of our continent. We had not attacked Russia out of pure zeal to conquer. Rather, we were forced to act because the Soviets had deployed superior forces of more than 256 divisions in order to invade Europe at an opportune hour.

During my lifetime I have gotten to know and understand more than 50 countries, particularly in the Arab world and black Africa. These countries live under diverse political systems. In contrast to us, these nations all love and respect their own homelands, and are proud of their own countries and traditions.

The system of “reeducation” after 1945 has turned the Germans into a neurotic people. This spiritual-psychic condition of society in the Federal Republic thereby renders it incapable of self-awareness or of taking decisive counter-measures against the leftist organized revaluation of the natural life order.

A democracy is not good and acceptable because it calls itself a democracy, but rather when it recognizes and respects the traditional and living values of its own national community. I also believe that in every western democratic country, including here in Germany, no one can be happy about a democracy that does not also have a positive regard for its own people, state and nation. Contrary to the prevailing dogma, I have gained the impression that human beings are not equal, if for no other reason than on the basis of their very different cultural views. Nevertheless, I have observed that everywhere in the world, nationalists and those who love their own countries are able to speak with each other in the same language and understand each other, which is not the case among democrats of each country.

When one observes the tumultuous defamation of the Third Reich and the continual and repulsive self-accusations, one has to ask himself: is Hitler still so strong and the German Federal Republic so weak that the ignorant citizens of Germany can be convinced of the value of this democracy only by repetitiously repeating the old confessions of self-guilt? I do not believe so. In the long run, the historical truth cannot be suppressed

 

Stauffenberg’s background

Observations of Heinrich Müller, formerly head of the Gestapo and also head of the 20. July, 1944 Special Commission. Taken from his initial interview with James Kronthal, CIA station chief in Bern, Switzerland in 1948 when Müller was being vetted for CIA employment

M I think that Stauffenberg’s personality is important to consider. Any competent police officer likes to know as much as he can about a suspect. There was a man named Stefan George, a poet, who died in 1933. He taught elitism and racial superiority to a circle of young men that always surrounded him. He was the Oscar Wilde type.

Q George was a homosexual in other words.

M Yes, of course. I learnt of this affair after the 20th of July through a comrade in the Munich Police who had access to a long official report about George from the earlier times. George had seduced a pretty boy in Munich and his family intercepted disgusting love poems George had written to this boy. Complaints were made and an investigation followed. The names of the brothers Stauffenberg came up at several points. George was up in Heidelberg and had a sort of religious cult with all kinds of secret ceremonies with young men performing nude dances and so on. Revolting behavior.

Q And Stauffenberg was in this group?

M Yes, he and his brothers. Stauffenberg was quite handsome if you have seen his pictures. He was tall and slender with good features so I suppose George was drawn to him. Stauffenberg himself joined this cult when he was seventeen. George fled from Germany after the taking over of power in 1933 and the Stauffenbergs and others joined him in Switzerland. George died in that year.

Q But was this a permanent way of life for Stauffenberg or just something he experimented with as a young man?

M I could never prove anything for certain but many of Stauffenberg’s fellow staff officers believed he was a fumbling auntie. Or a homosexual to be more formal. He always surrounded himself with pretty young officers whom he preached Greek culture to. He went on about the body beautiful and the soul perfect or however he termed it. Many older, normal, officers found him loud and obnoxious, very dirty in his personal hygiene and strongly objected to his male harem that he dragged around the offices.

Also, this George talked about a secret Germany that was to be led by his special young friends after he had converted them to his perverted way of life. I have many papers which show me that the so-called secret Germany was in reality a clique of homosexuals with an interest in younger men and I think a case might very well be made that some of the plotters who were allied with Stauffenberg were as interested in repealing the very strictly applied State laws against homosexuality as in overthrowing Hitler. The whole business reeked of perversion. Like the Redl case.

Q You have documentation on all this?

M Of course. I still have a huge file put away on these creatures. I told all of these things to Hitler who was disgusted and told me he wanted to hear nothing more about this. He said to me, “First there was Röhm and his gang of fairies and now this. Keep all that quiet for now. Later, we can bring it up and use it to clean out the degenerates from their positions but this is not the time.”

Q Could we have copies of these papers?

M Certainly. Perhaps you would like to find out who else was in this society so you could make use of their services. I don’t mean sexual services, of course, but such knowledge can assure better cooperation.

Q Let us say that we would be interested in more information in this area. I assure you we are not interested in blackmail…

M Oh, the furthest thing from my mind, I can tell you.

Q Do you think the Soviets know about this?

M They have a nose for such things. It is a cheap way to get free information and the Soviets are adept at sexual blackmail. I know that they were aware of this situation but exactly what they did about it is beyond my present knowledge.

Q Would…if the Soviets knew about Stauffenberg’s activities, would they have been…or would they be now…aware of surviving personalities who had connections with this group? The secret Germany group?

M Probably. If they have been running these people, you could turn them. While I am on that subject, I should tell you that there were a number of so-called heroes of that time who were very cooperative with me in supplying all kinds of information I needed, quite freely by the way, and helping me track down others in their various groups. Perhaps we could discuss someone whose name is probably known to you.

………..

Q Is there any proof of the Stauffenberg group’s Soviet connections?

M Certainly. The Gestapo seized all of Stauffenberg’s personal papers from every source. Actually, when we searched his quarters in Berlin…I mean his private living quarters in Potsdam…we found that Stauffenberg had put everything down on paper. Not only that, we found the house stuffed with illegal black market food, wine, clothing and other luxury items. A very law abiding and patriotic man was Stauffenberg. You asked me about perversion before? Several albums of pictures of naked young Italian boys by the infamous von Glöden. Those I don’t have in my papers. We followed up all the information we had and the Soviet thread came up almost at once. We missed Köstring although he was interrogated but we did get all of the others. Hitler ordered all these documents kept strictly secret and in my own hands because he wanted no one else to be aware of what he did or did not know. There were many frightened people after that time, let me assure you.

Q What happened to these documents?

M Stauffenberg’s papers?

Q Yes.

M I kept them. And to answer your unasked question, I still have them. Except for the pictures of the little boys.

……………

The ugly facets of Stauffenberg’s persona are entirely true and Müller’s inelegant but blunt reports are not fictions designed to entertain Hitler and his entourage.

The comments on the homosexual poet, George, are true. They might be interpreted differently by persons who find themselves in sympathy with his lifestyle but this does not change their veracity. There are still reports in the Munich police files, not generally available to the public,that cover the subject in detail. There is no question that Stauffenberg and his brothers were intimate members of George’s inner circle and accompanied him into exile in Switzerland. The point can be made that Stauffenberg’s sexual activities do not negate his political ones but to understand clearly the nature of the resistance movement, it is necessary to examine not only the motives but the character of its participants.

The Stauffenberg family was, even to sympathetic biographers, strange.

Stauffenberg’s father had been Hofmarschall, or major-domo, to the King of Württemberg. He managed the King’s financial affairs and after the deposed King died, members of the royal family accused the elder Stauffenberg of dipping into the treasury. The elder Stauffenbergs were considered to be eccentric to a degree. Stauffenberg’s father and uncle did not talk to each other but barked back and forth like dogs. Stauffenberg’s mother wandered about the town of Lautlingen dressed in flowing gowns, reading poetry aloud to no one in particular.

Stauffenberg was initially impressed with Hitler, being attracted to dominant male figures, but soon grew tired of the new head of state and began to seek other father figures.

Often stated to be a brilliant staff officer, Stauffenberg was a competent and energetic planner but was so abrasive and opinionated that he was generally shunned by his peers. Stauffenberg was one of those persons whom one either deeply admires or detests. His personal hygiene left much to be desired. He bathed occasionally, wore clean uniforms when he thought about it, sometimes had his hair cut by a barber and rarely used a toothbrush. These eccentricities, coupled with his loud, insistent domination of any conversation he chanced to encounter, did not endear him to members of the German General Staff whose motto was, “Be more than you seem.”

Merely because Stauffenberg possessed a number of irritating mannerisms does not mean that he was incompetent or in error in his actions. Stauffenberg was in error because he failed. He was also wrong because his overweening ego blinded him to the fact that his attempt was doomed to failure from the start. Killing Hitler and his top military leadership might have pleased Stalin but it would not have stopped the war with any degree of certainty and his plans for a quick and happy ending to the savage conflict are, at this remove, so idealistic as to border on lunacy.

Stauffenberg put a bomb under Hitler’s table and almost literally ran out of the room to watch the carnage at a distance. He was not a martyr in any sense of the word. When he returned to Berlin after a three hour trip by slow aircraft, he found the headquarters of the Reserve Army in a state of torpid inaction. It was at this point that Stauffenberg committed an unforgivable act: he lied to his fellow plotters and told them that he had actually seen Hitler’s corpse with his one good eye. On the strength of his insistence and the knowledge that if they did not take action, the Gestapo would soon be paying a visit to their headquarters in force, the reluctant Generals began to act. With his lie, Stauffenberg doomed most of the men around him to an ugly and degrading road to death but like most fanatics, to Stauffenberg the end justified the means.

A number of apocryphal stories about intended assassination attempts against Hitler have proliferated since the end of the war. Gersdorff’s story about the bomb in his pocket has been proven false and the Schlabrendorff aircraft bomb has been disproved by the discovery of Hitler’s official travel orders of the day in question that show Colonel Brandt on another aircraft. One story relates how intrepid officers were planning to bomb Hitler at an exhibition of new uniforms in Berlin. This failed, the story goes, because a bomb dropped by an Allied pilot destroyed the uniforms and the showing was canceled.

In fact the display was made but not in Berlin and the uniforms in question were not developed until a year after the date of the imaginary attack.

In his book, Putsch, (Wyden, New York, 1970) Richard Hanser discusses the homoerotic nature of George and his movement. The poems to a handsome Munich youth are also mentioned. (pps.54-57.). On the other hand, Stauffenberg biographer Joachim Kramarz devotes an entire chapter to George and his influence over Stauffenberg, mentions the suspicion of homosexuality but dismisses it out of hand. It should be noted that Kramarz has also dismissed any negative report on Stauffenberg as Nazi propaganda designed to smear a great hero of impeccable character and high motives. The forward to his book was written by Trevor-Roper. (Stauffenberg, Macmillan, New York, 1967, pps 29-35.)

 

 

 

 

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