The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics, 1918-1945

By John W. Wheeler-Bennett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
JULY 20, 1944

Or who . . .
Steps, with five other Generals
That simultaneously take snuff,
For each to have pretext enough
To kerchiefwise unfold his sash
Which, softness' self, is yet the stuff
To hold fast where a steel chain snaps,
And leave the grand white neck no gash?

ROBERT BROWNING, Waring.


(i) AT THE WOLFSSCHANZE

VERY early on the morning Of July 20, 1944, Claus von Stauffenberg and Werner von Haeften motored to the Rangsdorf airfield, to the south of Berlin.1 Fromm's Chief of Staff had been summoned to F.H.Q. to give a detailed report on the progress made in creating the new front-line divisions from the man-power of the Home Army in order to stem the tide of the Red Army's advance, which was then but fifty miles distant from the Führerhauptquartier. With the two officers was Werner's brother, Bernd, a lieutenant of the Naval Reserve, who, having been warned of the mighty things which were to come to pass that day, had secured leave of absence to be in Berlin for the occasion and had come to see his brother off on the first lap.

At the airport they were joined by Helmuth Stieff and his A.D.C., Major Roll. 'The Poison Dwarf', whose task it was to supply the explosives, had the night before produced a two-pound bomb with a time fuse for delayed action. The explosion was effected by

____________________
1
Of the first-hand accounts of the happenings at the Führer's Headquarters on July 20, 1944, von Stauffenberg's was given to Otto John that same afternoon on his return to the Bendlerstrasse and is recorded in Dr. John Memorandum. Other accounts of survivors of the explosion are to be found in Kapitän zur See Kurt Assmann Deutsche Schicksalsjahre ( Wiesbaden, 1950), pp. 453-60; Lieutenant-General Adolf Heusinger Befehl im Widerstreit ( Stuttgart, 1950), pp. 3 52)-55; and an article by Colonel Nikolaus von Below in "Echo der Woche" for July 15, 1949. See also the collection of reports made for the Führer by OKW contained in IMT Document, PS-1808 (G.B. Exhibit No. 493), and also Dulles, pp. 6-8.

-635-

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