13 minutes earlier and Hitler would have been dead

There were many assassination attempts on Hitler from the time he began to rise in Germany’s political scene in the early 1930s, all the way through to the end of World War Two.


Just before the war began, Johann Georg Elser made his attempt to kill Hitler in 1939.

Johann was 36 years old at the time and is now considered to be the closest attempt that ever occurred. Johann was a carpenter by trade and acted alone in the planning and undertaking of the assassination attempt.

Historians have now discovered that Johann only missed killing Hitler by 13 minutes. Johann had come to realise that with Hitler in power war was inevitable, so he decided he would plant a bomb to kill him during his annual speech at a hall in Munich.

The plan was to hide a pack of explosives within one of the hall’s pillars right behind the podium where Hitler would stand to give his speech.

Johann gathered what he would need to make the bomb from a local weapons factory where he was working.

For over a month Johann stayed in Munich, entering the hall before it closed and hiding inside once it was closed so that he could bore a hole into the pillar and eventually hide his homemade bomb inside.

Once completed, the night before Hitler was due to speak, he attached a timer to the bomb device. Johann set it for the time that Hitler was scheduled to speak and then left Munich.


Unfortunately on the day it turned out that bad weather closed Munich airport. That changed Hitler’s schedule since he was due to be back in Berlin as soon as possible, and would therefore have to leave Munich earlier than planned in order to get a train back to Berlin.

That meant Hitler’s entire schedule for the day was shifted earlier and he began his speech at the hall 30 minutes earlier than planned. He left the hall unhurt, and 13 minutes later the bomb exploded killing eight and wounding more than 50 others, the News.com.au reports.

The Gestapo tracked the bomb back to Johann and they caught him as he tried to escape Germany over the border to Switzerland.

He was captured and imprisoned. Once he had been interrogated, and even tortured, he was sent to Dachau concentration camp. After six years in captivity, Johann was executed in 1945, only months before the war ended.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE