English: Flossenbürg concentration camp: court...

English: Flossenbürg concentration camp: courtyard of Arrestblock (jail block), site of numerous executions in 1944/45 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Today 69 years ago a group of very brave ,and unlucky men tried to change the course of history. That is the background of Operation Walküre (Valkyrie). In truth, the plan comes off as having elements of (very black) slapstick comedy about it. That doesn’t change the fact that these men (mostly but a few women as well) gave their lives to try to remove Hitler. You are free to believe they did this in the name of the honor of the German soldier, or to get an easier peace, or to save Germany from the Russians, or a half-dozen other reasons, or all of them, I don’t think it matters.


They tried and they failed, and then they died, horribly for the most part.



Who were they, that were implicated? Most were, and are anonymous, and innocent, most likely since at least 7000 people were arrested and nearly 5000 executed.


Here are some you may have heard of:



I found this list here, on Wikipedia., and there are many, many, more.


But the thing that really struck me in reading over the list is this. Two other things died in the furious aftermath of the plot.


This was the end of the old Prussian/German Great General Staff. One can argue about its efficacy as a war fighting construct but one thing is beyond doubt, it carried the institutional honor of the German Army going back to at least the Napoleonic War.


The other thing that died was the old Prussian/German aristocracy, just look at the number of names in that list with the aristocratic von in their names. That prefix in most accounts goes back to returning knights of the Order of St. John Hospitaller who conquered a goodly part of Prussia and Poland to find a place to settle down. We’ve talked before about how the Nazis and the Soviets between them wiped out the Polish nobility, so there was little left.


It would be a fair assessment, I think, to say that World Wars I and II killed of all of the traditional leadership in Europe, with the sole exception of what was left in Britain. France pretty much killed theirs off in the terror. Maybe that’s part of the reason for Europe’s lack of leadership anymore. They haven’t figured out how yet.


It might also be a fair assessment that we Americans are in truth the last representatives of the ‘Old Europe’ because we managed to avoid some of the killing fields that so wounded Europe.



About Neo
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8 Responses to Walküre

  1. boudicabpi says:

    Reblogged this on BPI reblog and commented:


  2. giliar says:

    Thank you, NEO!! Once again you’ve provided an excellent history lesson that I hate to say I was unfamiliar with. You should teach history in our schools!!!!!!!!


    • NEO says:

      Ha, too opinionated, and too short of degrees. But they’d learn better if it was taught like this.

      This one hits from two sides really. The military side is pretty obvious but Bonhoeffer may be the best Lutheran theologian of the 20th century, and possibly since Luther himself.


  3. What, no Wagner? 😉

    Seriously, there were some truly honorable men in that group, Rommel at the head of the class.


    • NEO says:

      I thought about it and couldn’t decide between “The Ride of the Valkyries” or “Gotterdammerung” 🙂

      There were indeed, the best of the old Germany was in that class Rommel leads in my estimation and Bonhoeffer right behind, and the catholics I suspect were just as impressive.


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