Forgotten Assassination Attempt on Hitler

Paul Flewers hatchet.job at
Mon Dec 18 05:34:41 MST 2000

List members will be interested in this, which turned up on a Z-Net e-mail.

Paul F


Hitler : The (Strange) Elser Case
By Nikos Raptis

Johann Georg Elser was born in the German Village of Hermaringen in 1903. At
the age of fourteen he was apprenticed as a (lathe) turner in a local iron
factory. In 1922 he passed his journeyman's exam as a cabinet-maker and
became a specialist in carpentry and metal work.. For the next decade Elser
lived as a wandering craftsman, sometimes working in clock factories or
repairing furniture. In 1928-9 he joined the militant communist group
"Rotfrontkaempferbund" (Red Front Fighters' Association). Except for playing
in its brass band he did not engage in Communist party activities. After
1933 he was considered an ex-Communist..

In 1938 Elser was alarmed by the Munich agreements and terrified by the
prospect of a second World War, having experienced the first WW as a
teenager. Elser, a reserved, slow-spoken individual, in the autumn of the
same year of 1938, decided to assassinate Hitler. He planned the
assassination attempt meticulously, accumulating a stock of explosives,
designing a special clock mechanism and hiding his apparatus in a wooden
column behind the speaker's rostrum in the Munich "Buergerbraeukeller" where
Hitler was due to speak on November 8, 1939, delivering his annual address
before the "Old Fighters" in commemoration of the "Putsch" of 1923, which
had started in the same "Buergerbraeukeller". (Note; The
"Buergerbraeukeller" is a huge beer hall where the Germans down enormous
quantities of beer in noisy camaraderie, while discharging the "processed"
beer at spacious lavatories on the one side of the hall, with immediate
access from the hall.)`

On November 8, 1939 Hitler was speaking at the "Buergerbraeukeller". His
speech normally ended about 10 p.m., but that day he left at 9.07 to catch
his special train. The bomb exploded at 9.20 destroying half the hall,
killing seven people and wounding sixty-three. Next day Hitler claimed that
an "inner voice" had told him to get out and on the same day he decided to
launch a western offensive ! Elser was arrested the same evening of the
attempt at the Swiss frontier, brought to Berlin, the Gestapo, etc.
Subsequently, he was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp as
"Hitler's special prisoner," He was given a carpenter's bench and allowed to
make what he pleased. In 1944 he was moved to Dachau and kept alive,
possibly in the hope of being used in a show trial after the war. On April
9, 1945, only 29 days before the Germans surrendered, he was murdered by the
Gestapo on a secret order from Himmler. and his death was attributed to an
allied bombing raid.

The Elser case is unknown not only to the general public but there is almost
nothing in the works of scholars, with expertise on Hitler and Nazism. For
example, in the work of Ian Kershaw, Professor at the University of
Sheffield in England, there is no mention of Elser's name ("The Hitler
Myth," Oxford, 1987; "Popular Opinion & Political Dissent in the Third
Reich," Oxford, 1983). However, in a recent interview to the German magazine
"Der Spiegel" Kershaw when asked if Elser is "his hero at that time," he
answered that Elser is " certainly one of the few (heroes), probably just
because he was an outsider. Elser is no political person, he wanted to kill
Hitler, to put an end to the war, simply that. Compared to the (Nazi)
officers, who hesitate again and again, Elser is a luminous figure." (Der
Spiegel, 34/2000, p.58)

The Germans have repressed the Elser case for more than 60 years. Yet, there
are exceptions. One is that of the 53-year old artist Wolfram Kastner of
Munich, whose work as a painter aims to "make visible, what the people do
not want to see." In order to make "visible" The act of Elser, Kastner, on
November 8, 1999, sprayed in four different sites of the city of Munich, a
sentence taken from the minutes of the Esler trial : "I wanted through my
act to prevent more bloodshed." (Elser's words). One of the sites was the
monument dedicated to the "Resistance against the Nazis." The monument
consists of a black stone slab on which are engraved the names of those that
resisted Nazism. Elser's name is not among them! Kastner sprayed Elser's
name on the monument with white paint. Next day the German Rolf Hochhuth
gave a lecture in the Bavarian Academy for the Fine Arts. The title of the
lecture : "Johann Georg Elser - the most solitary among us Germans."

It seems that in the Elser case there are still some things that demand to
become "visible', or should be analyzed at a deeper level. What would have
happened if Elser succeeded in eliminating Hitler? Would the (US supported,
in the 1920s and 1930s,) Nazi institutions have found a Hitler substitute
and continued W.W.II? Can the act of an individual (Elser) have so vast
effects as to stop W.W.II?

PS Who is going to make a film on the Elser case?

More information about the Marxism mailing list