Monday, March 18, 2013

Deaths: Last Survivor of Hitler Assassination Attempt

EWALD-HEINRICH VON KLEIST, 96

Died March 8, 2013.  As a 22-year-old German Army lieutenant. he volunteered to wear a suicide vest to a meeting with Adolf Hitler with plans to blow himself up and take out the German leader.  This plot did not come to pass.

He did play a key role in the attempt later that year, on July 20, 1944.

A member of a long-time military family, his father, Ewald von Kleist, was an opponent of Hitler who was arrested many times.  In 1938, he had traveled to England to determine if there was enough support for a coup attempt.

The younger von Kleist volunteered for the German Army in 1940 and was serving on the Eastern Front where he was wounded in 1943.  During his convalescence, he was approached by Col. Claus von Stauffenberg with a plan to kill Hitler.  This resulted in the suicide vest.

Then, came the July 20, 1944 plot as shown in the 2008 Tom Cruise movie "Valkyrie."  Von Kleist was to carry a brief case full of explosives, but von Stauffenberg ended up carrying it into the meeting himself.  Von Kleist remained in Berlin where he was supposed to arrest all officers and officials loyal to Hitler.

The bomb went off in the bunker, but had been moved behind a heavy table leg and Hitler was not killed.

Von Stauffenberg and others were arrested and executed.

Von Kleist was arrested, interrogated and sent to a concentration camp, but later released and returned to combat duty.

Quite An Interesting Story.  --GreGen

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