Tuesday 30 April 2024

Attempts on Hitler’s Life



1921 Beer Hall Putsch

We could argue that the very first attempt on Hitler’s life was at the Beer Hall Putsch. This happened in November 1921 and he was arrested and imprisoned. He was relatively unknown then.  But when he made a speech, several opponents drew pistols and fired.

1932 Ludwig Assner

Assner sent Hitler a poisoned letter but an acquaintance of Assner’s tipped Hitler off. Earlier in the year there seems to have been an attempt to poison  Hitler and his crew. However, Hitler didn’t even become ill as he stayed with his vegetarian diet.

1934 Beppo Römer

Römer vowed to assassinate Hitler but never got round to it.

1934 Helmut Mylius

Mylius was a right wing radical who conspired against Hitler but the plans of the conspiracy were exposed.     

1935 Marwitz group

Officials of the German Foreign Office thought Hitler should be stopped and distributed letters saying that now was the time to act.  

1936 Helmut Hersch

Hercsh planted two suitcases full of explosive in the Nazi headquarter but they were discovered before they went off.

1937 unknown SS man

This man tried to kill Hitler at a rally.

1938 Hans Oster and Helmut Groscurth

Hoster and Groscurth with the help of a few others planned to overthrow Hitler but gave up when the Munich Agreement was signed, avoiding the immediate threat of war.  

1938 Maurice Bavaud

Bavaud bought a gun and started stalking Hitler. He was actually protected by people surrounding Hitler making the Nazi salute. Bavaud was finally executes in 1941.

1938 Käthe Edler

Edler could have killed Hitler but it never occurred to her.

1939 Georg Elser

Elser created a bomb that indeed went off as planned. Eight people were killed and several injured but Hitler escaped.

1939 Michał Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski

He attempted to detonate explosives during Hitler’s victory parade in Warsaw.

1939 Erich Kordt

Kordt hatched an assassination plot but had to abandon it.

1939-1943 Noel Mason-Macfarlane

Mason-Macfarlane thought of killing Hitler with a sniper but never got round to it.

1943 Henning von Tresckow

This was another attempt at a bomb. Henning was a disillusioned military officer. He handed a member of Hitler’s staff a parcel containing two bottles of Cointreau. The bomb did not go off on as planned. Tresckow manage to retrieve the parcel and found that the bomb had had a defective fuse.

1943 Rudolff von Gertsdorf    

Gertsdorf was willing to become the bomb himself this time. Security was however too tight and he manged to extract himself form the bomb before it went off.

1943 Hubert Lanz, Hans Speidel, Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz

The planned to arrest Hitler during a visit to the Ukraine.

1944 – Stauffenberg

Several German officers, disgruntled after the D-Day  landings, decided to attempt another bomb and then get the Reserve Army to dismantle the line of command.

However, someone moved the bomb and although it went off and killed four men, it only left Hitler with non-life-threatening injuries.  

1944 Eberhard von Breitenbuch

Breitenbuch planned to shoot Hitler in the head at a conference. However, he was no allowed into the conference.

 

One source mentions forty-four attempts.

Why didn’t they succeed?

Were they badly planned?

Was Hitler’s security too efficient?

Were they plotter found out too soon?

And was Käthe Edler really the only woman who was even in any position to do anything?   


Monday 8 April 2024

Resisting Hitler

 


I’m exploring this quite a bit now as I prepare to write my final Schellberg Cycle novel.

There is a sort of hierarchy in the resistance:

Grumbling behind closed doors

Giving lip service only to the “rules” – Hans Edler’s ‘Heil Edler’ is an example of this.  

Turning a blind eye to others not obeying the rules

Dragging feet on new initiatives  – as  Hans Edler  did with the fabrication of the V2.  

Some Christian resistance – we have examples of this in the Cycle.

Overtly disobeying

Protest marches

Taking huge risks secretly: e.g. hiding Jews  

Satire – this will figure hugely in my final book.

Some left-wing organisation existed – The Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party  

Some youth organisations – such as the White Rose.

Resistance even within the armed forces.

Resistance outside of Germany  

Attempts on his life  


Monday 25 March 2024

Be Grateful for Your Freedom

 


We may grumble about our current politicians and I’m certainly getting fed up of this routine where one party raises themselves up only by pushing other people down. We all know that there is a limited amount anyone can do because of the circumstances they face so that sort of behaviour becomes tedious.

Compared with some many we really have it quite good.

We can move freely in our world and even though we might think freedom of speech has taken a bit of a knock we’re tending to debate what it actually means rather than curb it. We are rarely yet punished for what we think. Yes there have been a few warnings recently but compared with many we do have it easy.

Let’s get back to what it must have bene like for the people in this cycle.   

Clara Lehrs didn’t believe that it was actually happening. Humans could never be so cruel, could they? Oh yes they could and it didn’t stop. Look how the Jews in that regime gradually had their freedom taken away.

Thy were distrusted.

Then they were despised.

They couldn’t work

They couldn’t shop

They couldn’t be educated

Then they were imprisoned.

Then came the final solution and they were all killed.    

Freedom is fragile and could disappear at any moment. So let’s take head of those warnings and cherish our freedom.  We may not have it forever.     


Thursday 14 March 2024

Types of Leadership



I’m actually writing two sets of novels at the moment. The one that is talked about here and one for older young adults that is set far in the future.

And they’re crossing over at the moment.

Science fiction anyway often deals with the problems that we face currently and objectifies our own world.

There are several patterns of leadership in our current world:

Democratically elected presidents

Dictatorship (including benign dictators)

Monarchy

Alongside the head of state there is often a prime minister.

Many people today just don’t know how to vote in a democracy.  Not one party seems to offer a completely acceptable solution. Politics often descends into personal brawls with one  party scoring points against the other nd sometime it almost becomes personal. A benign dictator might be the most we could hope for.

What of monarchy in the UK? There have been times recently when I’ve thought that Elizabeth II or Charles III might make a better fist of looking after us than all our democratically elected leaders have in the past few years.

In my futuristic novel the head of state of one people dies.  She is called the President and the title is hereditary. She has just one child, a young girl, seven years old.  There is a protocol for when this happens. The dying president appoints the protagonist as the one who should represent the new young president. Fortunately Petri has enhanced diplomatic skills and is able to bring harmony between the people she now represents and her own people.

If only real life would follow fiction.          

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Stalin, Animal Farm, George Orwell and the Holocaust

 


George Orwell’s Animal Farm is only 30,000 words long and yet it packs a lot in. Earlier this month we went to see a production of it at which there were several school groups. My impression was that they were all possibly too young to understand it and I worried that they might not concentrate. I was wrong: even though they were noisy at first they were enthralled from the moment the play started.

Orwell wrote the book between 1943 and 1944 but it wasn’t published until 1945 despite its relevance to society then and indeed to any society.  The problem was that it looked as if it was talking about Stalin and Stalin had just become an ally.

There is a reverence to the Holocaust but could Orwell have known and indeed isn’t it really a universal reference? Boxer becomes weak and less useful and is carted off in a van marked “slaughterhouse.”

“It isn’t what it seems,” says Napoleon (and what a name that is). Is that the equivalent of a Nazi lie or indeed any lie in politics when the truth needs to be covered up?

Food becomes short on the farm and there is a hint that it was perhaps better when Jones (the farmer) was still in charge.  Mollie wants to go back to wearing ribbons (animals are not allowed to wear clothes). Would they in fact be better off with a benign dictator than the democracy they try to create?

Leadership goes to the heads of those who have put themselves in charge; they start fraternizing with humans, they change the rules – alcohol is now allowed as long as it is in moderation and animals may sleep in beds as long as they don’t have sheets.  They start walking around on two legs where before they had said four legs were superior to two legs.

They become capitalist; they have to produce goods that they can sell so that they can buy in labour and materials in order to rebuild a mill.

And the biggest change is that all are no longer equal because some are more equal than others.

Democracy dies as the leaders become dilators and no longer hold open meetings.

There is a feeling of inevitability about this. It all started out with good intentions. The animals were to rule themselves and this was going to be better than what Farmer Jones had offered. Yet they have to make compromises on their goals.  And the mill’s lack of success isn’t just down to lack of materials and labour – bad weather also plays a part and we should remember it is only being rebuilt because a neighbouring farmer has sabotaged it.  

So often political leaders in the end can only do what circumstances allow them to do. Out of fear for their status they begin to impose harsher rules on people. Is there that much difference between a far left totalitarian society and a far right dictatorship?

Friday 9 February 2024

Pogroms, asylum seekers, happiness seekers


 

A member of my creative writing group wrote a very moving piece based very loosely on her family. She wrote of a time when two million Jews fled or rather were forced to emigrate from Russia 1880 -1920. Clara’s Story starts as a time like that in Germany has ended and any persecution of Jews has been made illegal. We know that that particular peace did not last long. My creative writing group member really took us into the time and place and made us understand what that way of life felt like. This is another example of creative writing being a tool for uncovering what we don’t know.  We take what we do know, our humanity, and say how that humanity will react if this or that happens.

Her other piece was a newspaper article about the people who arrive in boats. These are people wo are so scared of the regime they have left, where their lives may be under threat , that they are willing to pay the high prices to exploitive gangs and put their lives at risk  in another way by crossing the sea dangerously. Asylum seekers are not illegal immigrants. However we don’t know who the people are in the boats until we process them.

Jennifer Burkinshaw’s Happiness Seeker features Mareno who has come illegally to the UK simply because there is no work in his homeland. Simply? Wait. There being no work is huge. How are people supposed to support themselves if they can’t find work?

As the people in my creative writer’s story began to leave their already quite poor homes I was actually reminded of John Steinbek’s The Grapes of Wrath. They too were “happiness seekers” but what else could they do if their farms were no longer viable and there was no work available locally?

Many factors can lead to people becoming displaced. Having a home, feeling safe at home, and being able to sustain a home are important. We all do what we can to maintain that. We are or should be grateful for it and it may be worth taking a few moments to reflect on what it might feel like if that were suddenly taken away from us.

We should also remember those displaced people are often or often become very resourceful and creative and thereby also become an asset to the community they eventually join.            

Friday 26 January 2024

The Nazi Attitude to Art

 


We need to remember first of all that Hitler was a failed artist. He didn’t manage to get into art school after applying twice and he spent a lot of his time before he became the great dictator painting pictures on post cards. He liked Romanticism and detested modern art.  For him painting had to be realistic and heroic.

A main concern for the Nazis was getting rid of Jewish influence in art.  For this reason they admired classical art, Greek and Roman, as this had no Jewish input. They also despised art produced by homosexuals and communist artists.

Much modern art and what we may now label “modernism” was condemned as being “degenerate”.  Expressionism was particularly despised. Also classed as “degenerate” was what we refer to as Cubism, Dada, Fauvism and Surrealism. Works by Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse were destroyed.  

In Munich in 1937 there was an exhibition of “Entartete Kunst” which showed much of the “degenerate” art deliberately displayed in chaotic manner to discredit it. This includes work from Klee and Kandinsky. The Nazis had confiscated 650 modern paintings, graphic works and sculptures from 32 museums.

Meanwhile, around the corner at the respected Haus der Deutschen Kunst there was a more sober exhibition of Nazi approved artists.

In the 1940s, the Nazis compiled a list of favoured artists. These were considered to be ‘divinely gifted’.  42,000 artist were given government approval and had to register with the Reich Chamber of Visual Arts. They were not allowed to be “politically” unreliable and could be expelled if they were deemed to be so, A tribunal was created in 1936.

One favoured sculptor was Arno Breker who produced between 1933 and 1945works that resembled Greek sculptures. He continued to work on this style into the 1950s.  

The Reichskulturkammer was established in 1933. This was to promote the Aryan race through art. This marked the end for the Bauhaus art school and movement, situated in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau. The Bauhaus created what might be called German modernism and which became by Nazi definition degenerate. The Bauhaus also fostered the idea of a community of artists working together. It was in its time the most progressive school of art known.  

Art was used to create propaganda posters: https://www.dw.com/en/how-the-nazis-used-poster-art-as-propaganda/a-55751640

The work produced by the Nazis was classical and a little dull.         

Much of the Nazi produced art still exists and there has been a call for a work by Adolf Ziegler to be taken down.  Ziegler  persecuted Jews and “degenerate” artists. The work ‘The Four Elements’ is displayed in Munich’s Pintothek museum    

The Nazis also stole great works of art from Jewish owners. Some valuable works of art were hidden and served as a  type of investment. This led to some talented artists producing forgeries in order to keep the original out of Nazi hands. Many British artistic treasures were hidden inside mountains in Wales in case of a German invasion.