The Many Assassination Attempts on Adolf Hitler

While Adolf Hitler garnered much approval in his early days of leadership, many Germans soon began to see the folly of keeping such a man in power. As such, more than fifteen assassination attempts were made on his life. A few of these are more notable than others, but they all share one thing in common—they all failed. Adolf Hitler did not die until the die he took his own life while hiding in his bunker.

The first assassination attempt was made relatively early on. On November 9, 1939, a German carpenter named Johann Georg Elser placed a bomb behind a pillar not far from where the Führer was to be giving a speech among members of his Old Guard. The bomb killed eight people and wounded sixty, but Adolf Hitler was not among them. He had begun his speech early that night due to fog, and had vacated the area quickly afterward. He was making his way back to the train station just minutes before the bomb was set to explode. Elser was eventually caught, having already been arrested for trying to escape into Switzerland. It was only a short time before they discovered his involvement.

One of the most famous attempts (and subject of the Tom Cruise film, Valkyrie) is that which was carried out by Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. He had fixed a bomb in a briefcase and placed it directly under a table at which Adolf Hitler would be sitting during a meeting at his Prussian headquarters. The bomb was pushed further under the table, and the Führer managed to survive. Stauffenberg and others involved were subsequently captured and killed.

Some of the lesser-known assassination attempts hardly managed to gain speed before they failed. Captain Eberhard von Breitenbuch failed to shoot the Führer at a 1944 conference because his rank did not give him access. Adolf Hitler might have been killed by a bomb placed in an army overcoat by infantry captain Axel von Dem Bussche, but the army’s uniforms were destroyed by an air raid. A similar attempt failed for similar reasons, when an air raid resulted in another public demonstration being cancelled, the Express reports.

Adolf Hitler believed that he had a higher power watching over him, and these numerous failed assassination attempts did nothing to quell his ego. There were multiple shootings, explosives, and rigged accidents that never occurred because of reinforced security, malfunctioning detonators, and other factors. In many cases, the problem was that Adolf Hitler simply did not show up. In some ways, it might have been better that he survived. One plan backed by Winston Churchill was actually planned because the British believed Adolf Hitler to be a poor strategist, and did not want him replaced by someone more competent.

Ian Harvey

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