Valkyrie: The Story of the Plot to Kill Hitler, by Its Last Member
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When the Second World War broke out, Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager, then 25-years-old, fought enthusiastically for Germany as a cavalry officer. But after discovering Nazi crimes, von Boeselager’s patriotism quickly turned to disgust, and he joined a group of conspirators who plotted to kill Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. In this elegant but unflinching memoir, von Boeselager gives voice to the spirit of the small but determined band of men who took a stand against the Third Reich in what culminating in the failed “Valkyrie” plot—one of the most fascinating near misses of twentieth-century history.
arrived in the middle of the winter. But the men had only their thin uniform jackets. In December the whole of the Sixth Division received just a few dozen pairs of fur-lined boots and overcoats. The doctors advised the men to wear all their available underclothes. But this was not sufficient. The smallest gaps in the clothing were stuffed with newspaper, packaging materials, and rags; newspaper in one’s shorts, newspaper around one’s legs and torso. Since they were receiving nothing in the way
to lay their heads and rations three times a day! They won’t do anything. They don’t care whether they are fighting for the true Germany or Hitler’s Germany.…” Georg was not one to acknowledge self-doubt, to resolutely question himself, to sound out his fellows, to probe the depths of his thoughts, to ask others to confirm them.… When he expressed himself, he had already made up his mind. His friends had pointed out the practical difficulties involved in what he proposed. Their objections gave
welcomed with a joy that did my heart good, despite the difficulites that still faced us. The news of Hitler’s death reached the troops on May 1, 1945. It was met with general indifference, even among his former supporters; for months, everyone had been thinking only about getting home alive. My sole concern was to ensure that the boys who had been entrusted to me would return to Germany. Until the last day, I had all the infirmaries in the region searched for the division’s wounded and
Examen de conscience. Paris: Perrin, 1996. ____. Lieutenant de Panzer. Paris: Perrin, 1994. Illustration Credits 1.1 Philipp and his siblings in front of the family house. © Collection Boeselager. 1.2 Philipp, nine years old, with his father’s hunting trophy, September 1926. © Collection Boeselager. 2.1 Berlin, September 1938: parade of the Paderborn Fifteenth Cavalry Regiment honoring Mussolini. © Collection Boeselager. 7.1 January 1942, Hitler’s headquarters at Rastenburg, East
other units of mounted cavalry in the Wehrmacht before mobilization. We were divided up into fifty-two squadrons scattered over thirty-three infantry divisions. We were supposed to be integrated into reconnaissance battalions whose mission was—by reconnoitering, establishing bridgeheads, and, in short, performing all kinds of bold actions—to prepare the way for the less-mobile units of heavy infantry. The reconnaissance battalions, each consisting of about a thousand men, included a staff to