Valkyrie: The Story of the Plot to Kill Hitler, by Its Last Member
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When the Second World War broke out, Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager, then 25-years-old, fought enthusiastically for Germany as a cavalry officer. But after discovering Nazi crimes, von Boeselager’s patriotism quickly turned to disgust, and he joined a group of conspirators who plotted to kill Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. In this elegant but unflinching memoir, von Boeselager gives voice to the spirit of the small but determined band of men who took a stand against the Third Reich in what culminating in the failed “Valkyrie” plot—one of the most fascinating near misses of twentieth-century history.
marshal and I always ate separately, whereas we shared the other meals with the marshal’s staff. In the course of the morning, General Wöhler, the chief of staff; Tresckow, the operations officer; the intelligence officer; and other department heads came in to report. That was the routine on sedentary days. However, weather permitting, we boarded a plane several times a week to inspect the terrain. Then it was the local staff’s turn to make their reports. Kluge took advantage of this opportunity
a stag or a boar in the coup de grâce and look without revulsion at the dark red fluid bubbling out of mortal wounds. We did not shiver upon seeing the brown trickle running down the pale pelt of a young deer, or the bloody foam staining the chops of an animal exhausted by the chase. We withstood the glassy stare of the dead animal and, finally, collected these bloody, damp trophies, the spolia opima of modern times. Hunting also accustomed us to the laws of violent death, internalized the notion
Bach-Zelewski had a scandalous reputation as an unscrupulous careerist who was full of bitterness toward the military men who had expelled him from the army fifteen years earlier. But in the spring of 1942, news of the atrocities committed by his henchmen had not yet spread beyond the limited group of eyewitnesses. Moreover, in the sulfurous rumors that swirled about him, it was hard to distinguish fiction from reality. In any case, he had been assigned to carry on the battle against the
abbreviated chain of command short-circuited all the intermediate levels. Moreover, in the chaotic retreat, squadrons, detachments, and even patrols were largely autonomous. The movements of the cavalrymen thus took place without either the brigade commander or the regimental commander being informed. They were all the less surprised by this momentary disappearance, because it had been planned to withdraw the cavalry from the front to Brest-Litovsk and to hold it in reserve. Furthermore, the
20). 2. Germany—Politics and government—1933–1945. 3. Conspiracies—Germany—History—20th century. 4. Boeselager, Philipp Leopold Antonius Hebertus, Freiherr von, 1917–2008. 5. Soldiers—Germany—Biography. I. Fehrenbach, Florence. II. Fehrenbach, Jérôme. III. Title. DD256.35.B6413 2009 943.086′4092—dc22 [B] 2008055539 eISBN: 978-0-307-77353-1 Author photograph © AFP (Agence France-Presse) www.vintagebooks.com v3.1 To my comrades in the Tresckow group, who made their motto Etiam si