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Freiherr Philipp Von Boeselager


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#1 Bart

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 06:49 AM

Last week on Dutch tv, a very interesting documentary about Baron (Freiherr) Philipp von Boeselager. A former wehrmachtofficer and the right hand of Fieldmarshall Von Kluge. He is the last remaining soldier, who took part in (two) plot(s) to kill Hitler. He was never arrested though and nowadays lives as an 88-year old ‘freiherr’ in Germany. He still has the gun that was supposed to kill Hitler.

Philipp von Boeselager often met Hitler in person. He claims that he was never impressed by Hitler’s so called charisma. On the contrary… he didn’t like him at all. Philipp also was responsible for establishing (radio)contact between his Fieldmarshall von Kluge and Hitler. According to Von Boeselager, Hitler could be very shy (!) … so shy that he did’t know how to start talking to Von Kluge. “Sometimes, I could only hear him breathing… he just didn’t know how to introduce himself to Von Kluge”. Von Boeselager says that Hitler was only shy in the presence of people he secretely admired… people like Von Kluge.


Posted Image
The Freiherr (88), showing a photo of his Fieldmarshall


The plot to kill Hitler

Phillip Von Boeselager served, together with his brother, Georg at the Eastern front. They worked with Romanian troops of the Romanian Third Army, training them to fight alongside the German Sixth Army which at first advanced deep into the Soviet Union, but was destined to surrender at Stalingrad. After an audience with Field Marshall General Günther von Kluge, then the commander of Army Group Centre, Georg Boeselager was assigned as Deputy Commander, Cavalry Regiments Centre, a freestanding cavalry unit fighting on the Eastern Front. Philipp Boeselager became a member of Von Kluge’s staff and made frequent trips to confer with von Kluge, sometimes flying along with the field marshall's staff on his transport plane.

At a 1943 field conference the feasiblity of an assassination of Hitler was discussed among some of the officers present. Some suggested killing Hitler with a pistol, but no officer could be found who would dare attempt it. Many who would gladly give their lives in battle in the company of their comrades abhorred the idea of going alone assasinate an unarmed head of state. One year earlier, a Luftwaffe officer had lain in wait for Hitler while the Führer was out walking in the woods, but found he was unable to move his arms when the critical moment came.
Both Boeselager brothers were asked to take part in a plot to kill Hitler. The Boeselagers had come to believe that they had a duty to God and his fellowmen to kill Hitler, who was the antithesis of all that their religious upbringing represented.

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Fieldmarshall Gunther von Kluge

Instead of a lone assasination , Georg Boeselager envisioned a scenario where, in command of a cavalry honor guard, he would overwhelm Hitler's SS bodyguard and shoot the Führer in a fair fight; this course was rejected because von Kluge did not like the prospect of a large numbers of German soldiers fighting each other. Boeselager later offered to charge the Wolf's Lair with a full battalion of cavalry; this was rejected because of the extremely high casualties the unit would likely suffer and because it was impossible to transfer the unit from Prussia. Another suggestion was that a bomb be smuggled into Hitler's plane. This last idea was indeed attempted, with the bomb being placed by lawyer Fabian von Schlabrendorff, but the device failed to detonate.

After receiving another wound in February 1944, Georg Boeselager, still not fully recuperated in June, was assigned to a rear echelon squadron. There he began to plot a new attempt on Hitler in league with von Tresckow. He asked his brother Philipp to test several types of explosives. A British explosive came out best and would be used for the bomb.

In support of the German resistance, Georg von Boeselager would bide with the greater part of his brigade in the Prussian hinterlands, then advance to take Berlin and hold it. At the appointed time, The Von Boeselager brothers began marching their columns on Berlin. But before they could reach Berlin, they were informed by about the unsuccessful bombing carried out on July 20 by Claus von Stauffenberg. Boeselager accordingly led his troops back to the front with great celerity and doing the utmost to camouflage the reason for the troop movement; thus, Georg and his brother Phillip were not implicated in the plot. Approximately 5,000 others were not so lucky, and were executed for their roles, however minor.

Edited by Bart, 27 April 2006 - 06:51 AM.


#2 Bart

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 02:36 PM

Today, I recieved a letter from Freiherr Philipp von Boeselager. It feels rather strange to get a letter from the last remaining officer who took part in the plot to kill Hitler. It's a short, but interesting letter. I'd like to quote a few sentences... (I have to translate it in English, for the letter was written in German).

Who can expect from a soldier that he wants to lose the war? We, the simple soldiers, believed in defending our homeland. (...) For a long time we believed that we first had to fight the communists and after that, take our weapons up against Hitler. (...) Our decision was a difficult one to make because it was a very dangerous one for each of us. (...) I do hope that the documentary will contribute, just a little bit, to the mutual understanding between nations

#3 G.MITCHELL

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 03:28 PM

Bart I saw this documentary too and watched in awe.

#4 BenAlmighty

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 07:17 PM

Thats really interesting Bart, thanks for bringing it to our attention. It is odd how Hitler managed to survive all of those attempts on his life.

Ben

#5 Ken

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 12:51 AM

Last week on Dutch tv, a very interesting documentary about Baron (Freiherr) Philipp von Boeselager. A former wehrmachtofficer and the right hand of Fieldmarshall Von Kluge. He is the last remaining soldier, who took part in (two) plot(s) to kill Hitler.


Bart,

I just read that a Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin is also still alive, and had some part in the July 20 plot. Is this true, and have you heard from him?

#6 Bart

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 01:42 AM

Bart,

I just read that a Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin is also still alive, and had some part in the July 20 plot. Is this true, and have you heard from him?


I had never heard from him, but it seems that you're right. Interesting!

I've found a complete list of all the men who took part in the plot. Both Boeselager as Von Kleist-Schmenzin are mentioned on it. LIST

#7 Dogdaddy

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 09:40 AM

I saw this documentary also, on our History Channel in America. Bart, How in the world did you manage to contact him? You now have a very cool Collectable item! :D I remembered the part about Hitler 'clamming up' on the telephone....

Jim

#8 Bart

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 10:14 AM

How in the world did you manage to contact him?


I have some contacts in the upper classes of today's Europe, my friend. Can't reveal their names, I am afraid. :D

#9 Londo

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 12:56 PM

Has he written his memoirs? Now that would be a riveting read.

#10 Bart

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:34 AM

Baron Von Boeselager passed away on May the first, at the age of 90.
He was the last surviving member of the July 20 Plot, a conspiracy among high-ranking Wehrmacht officers to assassinate German dictator Adolf Hitler in 1944.
Von Boeselager provided Von Stauffenberg with the explosives, that - almost - killed Hitler.
Although most officers who took part in the plot were captured and tortured... none of them mentioned the name Von Boeselager.
He was never arrested.

More info from Wikepedia:

When Boeselager was a 25-year-old field lieutenant, he was part of Operation Walküre, which was a plan developed to re-take control of Germany once Hitler had been assassinated. Boeselager's role role in the plan was to order his troops (who were unaware of the plot) to leave the front lines in Eastern Europe and ride on commandeered horses all the way back to Berlin to seize crucial parts of the city in a full-scale coup d'état after Hitler was dead.

Boeselager's opinion turned against the Nazi government in June 1942, after he received news that five Roma people had been shot in cold blood, solely because of their ethnicity. Together with his commanding officer Field Marshal Günther von Kluge, he joined a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. The first attempt was in March 1943, when both Hitler and Heinrich Himmler were coming to the front to participate in a strategy meeting with Kluge's troops.

Boeselager was given a Walther PP, with which he was to shoot both Hitler and Himmler at a dinner table in the officers' casino. However, nothing ever became of this plan, because at the last minute, Himmler left Hitler's company, and the risk of leaving him alive to succeed Hitler was too great.

The second assassination attempt was in summer 1944. No longer caring about Himmler, the conspiracy planned to kill Hitler with a bomb when he was attending another strategy meeting in a wooden barracks. When the assassin's bomb failed to kill the Führer, Boeselager was informed in time to turn his unexplained cavalry retreat around and return to the front before suspicions were unduly raised. Because of Boeselager's fortuitous timing, his involvement in the operation went undetected and he was not executed along with the majority of the other conspirators. Philipp's brother Georg was also a participant in the plot, and likewise remained undetected; however, he was subsequently killed-in-action on the Eastern Front.

After the war, Boeselager's part in the failed attempt became known and he was regarded as a hero by Germany and France, receiving the highest military medals both countries could provide. He studied economics and became a forestry expert. Even in his old age, Boeselager still had nightmares about the conspiracy and the friends he lost in the war, and urged young people to become more involved in politics, as he felt apathy and the political inexperience of the German masses were two of the key reasons Hitler was able to come to power. The entrance to his residence in Kreuzberg bears the Latin motto "Et si omnes ego non — even if all, not I."

Boeselager was a member of K.D.St.V. Ripuaria Bonn, a Catholic student fraternity that belong to the Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen. Up until his death on 1 May 2008, he still had the Walther PP pistol he was supposed to shoot Hitler with.

On April 18, 2008, just two weeks before his death, Philipp von Boeselager gave his last videotaped interview. It was conducted by Zora Wolter for the feature documentary, The Valkyrie Legacy. It will be televised on History (a.k.a. The History Channel) in Spring 2009 to coincide with the release of Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Bryan Singer. The documentary was produced by Singer and directed by Kevin Burns.


Edited by Bart, 03 May 2008 - 10:49 AM.


#11 appell8

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 08:19 PM

Bart, Good On You for your reach out. Very well done.

From the AP today:

Philipp von Boeselager, 90; Took Part in Plot to Kill Hitler

Associated Press
Saturday, May 3, 2008; B06



Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager, 90, a former German army major believed to be the last surviving member of the inner circle of plotters who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944 with a briefcase bomb, died May 1, the German military said. No cause of death was reported.

Major von Boeselager was part of a group of officers who tried to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944, supplying explosives for the operation led by Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg. The von Stauffenberg plot is the basis for the upcoming Tom Cruise film "Valkyrie," in which the actor plays the aristocratic colonel.

Von Stauffenberg placed the bomb in a conference room where Hitler was meeting with aides and military advisers, but someone moved the briefcase next to a table leg, which deflected much of the explosive force.

Almost immediately afterward, von Stauffenberg and many of his cohorts were arrested and executed in an orgy of revenge that saw some hanged by the neck with piano wire. Although many of those rounded up by Nazi officials were tortured in the hopes that they would give up other conspirators, Maj. von Boeselager's name was never divulged, and he was never found out. Still, he carried a cyanide capsule with him until the end of the war in case his secret was revealed.

Maj. von Boeselager, who lived in Altenahr, near Bonn, was first recruited by von Stauffenberg co-conspirator Maj. Gen. Henning von Tresckow in 1942, he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview three weeks ago that was published May 2.

He said he knew that Jews were being systematically killed and that Germany was waging a war of annihilation along the Eastern Front with Russia, He never considered declining to take part in the plot, he said.

By 1942, "It was no longer about saving the country, but about stopping the crimes," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Maj. von Boeselager was assigned to the army high command as an aide to Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge, and the plotters first arranged for him to try to shoot Hitler and SS chief Heinrich Himmler at a meeting in 1943. Von Kluge, who committed suicide a month after the 1944 attempt on Hitler, called off the assassination at the last minute after learning that Himmler would not be at the meeting.

Maj. von Boeselager followed von Kluge's orders but told the newspaper the decision to do so never ceased to haunt him. "I always see Hitler from here to the fireplace in front of me and think, 'What would have happened if you had shot him?' " he said, indicating a distance of about two feet with his hands.

He also recalled when he joined the von Stauffenberg plot: His brother called him in spring 1944, asking for help in providing explosives.

Maj. von Boeselager recommended English-made explosives as the best, and as part of his assignment to an explosives research team, he was able to acquire them without drawing suspicion.

He delivered them to Maj. Gen. Helmuth Stieff, packed into a suitcase. Stieff was later executed for his role in the plot, and Maj. von Boeselager's brother was killed in fighting on the Eastern Front.

Had the bombing succeeded, Maj. von Boeselager said, he was assigned to lead a 1,000-man unit into Berlin to secure the capital.

Von Boeselager told the newspaper that in the years immediately after the war, he spoke with his wife, Rosa, about his role in the resistance but otherwise said little else.

"There was nobody one could talk with about it," he said. "They were all dead, and with others, it would just have been bragging."

There was also the fact that immediately after World War II, the July 20 plotters were widely viewed as traitors, a label the Nazis gave them that stuck for years.

"For a long time, it was not believable to normal Germans that the government was criminal," he recalled. "And as soon as one thought they had pushed that out of the way, then people just didn't want to know."




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