Should we be glad the plot to kill Hitler failed?

In the 1944 'July Plot', the German officer Claus von Stauffenberg narrowly failed to assassinate the Nazi leader. His success would have changed the course of history – but for better or worse? Roger Moorhouse and Nigel Jones debate the issue...

Deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, German officer Paul Schmidt and Adolf Hitler survey damage at Hitler's eastern front military headquarters, ‘the Wolf’s Lair’, hours after a failed bombing attempt by Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. (Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

On 20 July 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg took a bomb to a meeting at the Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s eastern front military headquarters in what is today Poland. His aim was to assassinate the German leader.

A career officer in the army, Stauffenberg had seen combat in many major campaigns and been dismayed by reports of German atrocities. He decided Hitler had to die but he couldn’t act alone. He was just one player in a wide-ranging plot of senior-level officials who were increasingly disillusioned with Hitler and his directing of the war. Once the leader was dead, they would launch Operation Valkyrie – a coup that would take control of the government and seek to end the war.

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