Letter: Forgotten hero's attack on Hitler

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The Independent Online
Sir: The name Claus von Stauffenberg and the assassination attempt on Hitler of 20 July 1944 are well known (leading article, 20 July). Sadly, the name Georg Johann Elser and his meticulously planned and executed attempt on Hitler's life in November 1939, seem to get left out of accounts of German resistance to the Nazis.

Elser, an ordinary German worker, came to the conclusion around the autumn of 1938 that Hitler was going to plunge Europe into war. On his own, and without the back-up available to the officers in the 20 July 1944 plot, Elser was able to place a bomb on the platform of the Burgerbraukeller and detonated it one hour after Hitler began his traditional November speech.

Special circumstances caused Hitler to shorten his speech to under an hour, and he left the hall a bare 10 minutes before the bomb went off, at 21.20 hours on 8 November 1939. (Hitler got his war started before Elser's plan was ready.)

The amazing story of Elser's plan, and of his subsequent arrest and execution at Dachau shortly before the liberation of the camp by American forces, is told in the transcripts of Elser's interrogation by the Kripo (the German police force) and the Gestapo, released a few years ago by the German government. Elser was indeed an 'unsung hero'.

Yours sincerely,


Largs, Strathclyde

20 July