Sunday, November 8, 2015

WW2: Nov. 8, 1939 - Elser's Bomb Goes Off Too Late (Updated Nov. 27, 2015)

Johann Georg Elser
Did very well, sir.
His bomb for Hitler, November the 8,
Went off, alas, 13 minutes too late.
(Clerihew by JT Marlin.)
(The stamp above was issued by post-
war East Germany.)

On the 16th anniversary of Hitler’s 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, a bomb exploded soon after Hitler finished giving a speech in Munich.

Hitler was – unfortunately for the world – not hurt.

(This event was four and a half years before the also-unsuccessful July 20, 1944 attempt on Hitler's life by senior officers in the German military. Altogether, Wikipedia lists 14 documented attempts to kill Hitler. Do bad people have powerful guardian devils?)

The November 8, 1939 bomb exploded 13 minutes after  Hitler had left the hall with his key Nazi leaders. Seven people were killed and 63 were wounded.

Gestapo boss Heinrich Himmler ingeniously fabricated a story to make himself appear vigilant:
  • Via the Nazi Voelkischer Beobachter, he blamed British secret agents and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, thereby  stirring up war fever against the British.
  • He sent Walter Schellenberg, posing as "Major Schaemmel", to Holland to make contact with British intelligence agents, on the pretext was that the anti-Nazi group wanted assurances from the British that in the event a future anti-Nazi coup succeeded, the British would support a new regime.
  • He had his SS police – guided by Schellenberg – take two British agents, Payne Best and R.H. Stevens by car to Germany. 
  • Then he announced that he had captured the British conspirators as well as the man who planted the bomb, Georg Elser, a 36-year-old German communist and carpenter. 
Elser does seem to have been the one who hid the bomb. However, the instigators are still not known – they could have been inside the German military as they were in 1944, or they could have been British agents. The three people arrested and convicted on the word of Himmler spent the war in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Elser was killed by the Gestapo in Dachau on April 16, 1945 so that the world would never hear his story. One is curious about what Best and Stevens, who apparently survived the war, had to say.

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