The Horrifying Deaths Of The ‘Valkyrie’ Conspirators

“The most terrible thing is knowing that it cannot succeed and that we must still do it for our country and our children.” —Berthold von Stauffenberg, July 20 conspirator

In A Nutshell

Just like in the Tom Cruise movie Valkyrie, the July 20 plot failed when the bomb didn’t kill Hitler. As the members of the coup were rounded up, Hitler ordered some of the conspirators shot and others killed by hanging with piano wire. The worst execution was reserved for the brother of one of the conspirators. Just before death, Berthold von Stauffenberg was resuscitated and then hung again, over and over. To top it all off, Hitler ordered the other hangings and the torture-execution to be filmed so he could watch at his convenience.

The Whole Bushel

While on the surface it seems that all of Germany was behind Hitler, there were significant portions of the population fighting against him. However, his security details (first the Storm Troopers and then the SS) were very efficient in crushing any sort of dissent. Of course, that didn’t stop everyone, and Hitler was the target of dozens of assassination plots against his life. Obviously, none were successful, but a few came close. None is more famous than the failed July 20 plot.

The plotters hoped to successfully behead the Nazi regime by arresting or killing the top leadership of Germany during World War II. To free up German soldiers from their oath to Hitler, the plot required Hitler be killed. They planned to do this with a bomb in the infamous Wolf’s Lair, during one of Hitler’s military planning sessions. Through luck and an ill-conceived explosive device, Hitler survived the blast and was able to maintain his position in power while successfully tracking down and killing every member of July 20 Plot. The ringleaders were shot as Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise’s character) famously shouted, “Long live our sacred Germany!” just before the bullets ripped into his chest.

What’s not talked about are hundreds of others who were also rounded up—some for the crime of just being related to the conspirators. Alexander von Stauffenberg, Claus’s brother who was fighting in Greece and had nothing to do with the conspiracy, was sent to Dachau and was able to live long enough to be liberated by the Allies. Claus’s other brother Berthold was not so lucky. Berthold had actually taken part in the conspiracy, and he and hundreds of prisoners were sentenced to death by hanging. Berthold’s hanging was especially cruel.

Under Hitler’s orders, they were hung by nooses made from piano wire to ensure that they slowly strangled to death. But right before he would have died, Berthold was revived and then executed again, only to be revived and strangled again, at least a third and fourth time. And to really cap it off, all the executions were filmed so that Hitler could watch the torture-executions at his own pleasure.

Show Me The Proof

Christmas Trees Lit the Sky: Growing Up in World War II Germany
Contending with Hitler: Varieties of German Resistance in the Third Reich

  • Scott

    Well, they were traitors, after all. I’m sure if these people had conspired to kill Obama everybody would be so happy to have them suffer.

    • Ana Medina

      I disagree, there’s a reason why we don’t allow cruel and unusual punishment in this country. If you’re going to execute someone, just do it as quickly and painlessly as possible, and only one time.

      • Scott

        I guess that depends on what you consider “cruel and unusual.” Personally, I think life in prison is far more cruel and unusual than death. At least death is a natural part of life. Being stuck in a little cell for decades on end is about as unusual as it gets. I dunno about you, but I’d rather die than spend the rest of my life penned up in a cell like an animal. And even then, it’s better to have a bit of pain at the end then to live seemingly forever in agony.

        • lonelydisco

          You get it!

      • inconspicuous detective

        you forget what country they were in. cruel and unusual punishment to the Nazi Germans of the time was considered interesting and experimental. lots of the stuff they did to humans in turn was used to further our understanding of the human body and its limits. not that this stuff was good, but it became a means to a different end after all. point being it wasn’t cruel and unusual to the Germans at the time — it was fitting.

    • Ryan

      Technically they were not traitors – Hitler had forfeited Germany’s sovereignty many times over. In essence, they were revolutionaries.
      Also, Hitler never won a free election like Obama did, so the comparison is far too cynical. And neither did Obama burn the Whitehouse down before the election (just as Hitler burnt the Reichstag down).

      • uun

        Hitler got into power by winning free election, funny fact. Also von Stauffenberg was nazi, he was not against nazi regime but against losing the war. If Hitler had been more successful in 1944, he wouldn’t see any problem whatsoever.

        • Jum1801

          This is exactly right. Von S. was perfectly happy with the disappearances of Jews and how Hitler conquered all Europe. He only got p.o.’d when Germany started losing the war and Hitler’s refusal to consider a negotiated end to the war. So let’s not go overboard with the hero stuff.

          • norse of Melbourne

            Isn’t Von S a clothing or apparel company? Maybe that’s Von Something else. I’m too old for fashion. I like my dressing gown and moth eaten slippers and listening to 70’s and 80’s music on cassettes.
            Anyway you got me sidetracked.
            I wouldn’t be sure ‘Patch’ Von Staffy would have been privy to the information about the Jews at first. When he served on the Russian front (Operation Barbarossa)
            He saw what was happening to the Russian Jews and peasants, this made him make his first approach to the German army resistance movement. Even as an Obersterleutnant (in Africa) he wouldn’t have had clearance to investigate higher classified information. When he was promoted to the executive staff he was aware by then and denounced it.
            Maybe I should have written this bloody article! (or cut and pasted Wiki – I love Wiki) my damned arthritic fingers are curling up and aching now. These darned youngun’s always cussin’ and fighten over nonsense. =P

          • Jum1801

            Whether Von St. was privy to the Final Solution (and everyone in Europe knew the Jews simply disappeared into thin air, whether they knew details) is irrelevant, because I’m basing my reference on comments in his diaries and letters which revealed his repugnance over Jews and his distrust of and disgust at them. He was a brave man, no doubt. But his bravery had nothing to do over a beleif that the Nazis were evil. He thought they were merely stupid and gross, and not “the best people”. He would have loved Hitler had Der Fuhrer won.

        • inconspicuous detective

          yes, this was a large part of why some decided to assassinate him. had the war continued as smoothly as it started, he wouldn’t have seen any real threat. though, make no mistake, there were those who did want him ousted for his anti – jew policies. they just weren’t powerful enough to do it.

        • Ryan

          Then you must believe that Mugabi wins free elections. Do you believe that?
          You may not say that the elections were free, Hitler outlawed two of the rival parties, the SS and SA controlled the vote. What you should be noting is that the outlawed parties were still voted for in the millions! This tells you everything you need to know about the election.

        • Take profits

          Check your facts. He was made Chancellor without legitimate vote. Then declared himself Fuhrer upon the death of Hindenburg.

      • Ji99a

        Hitler did not burn the Reichstag.

        That be like saying the cracker Bush slam planes to the Twin Towers.

        • Ryan

          He didn’t personally burn it, of course not. He ordered it. Do you deny that he ordered it?

      • Mahi Tuna

        Hitlers party was actually elected, once they had the majority in German government . Then Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg in 1933. Af this point the Nazis took over completely and created a a totalitarian regime. Hitler and the Nazi was basically ignored in previous elections. The turning point was Hitler told the German people the prosperity they enjoyed in the 20’s was because of Americas money/aide after WW1 and that Germany was controlled by the west. After the crash of the stock market Germany also plunged into a depression and the public came to see Hitler’s predictions correct. The Nazi party soared in popularity after that. In good times the Nazis where ignored, when things got bad the public looked for a savior and saw that in the Nazis. As the allies took town after town in 1945 Germany it seemed they could not find any Nazis…everyone was just a farmer.

        • Ryan

          Hindenburg resisted the Hitler and the Nazis for as long as he could. He preferred Papen to be appointed chancellor all along.
          I believe the turning point for their ‘popularity’ was when Hitler breached the Treaty of Versaille and marched soldiers into the Rhineland.

      • Pokkuru

        “Technically they were not traitors – Hitler had forfeited Germany’s sovereignty many times over.”

        Yeah, and Hitler wanted to conquer the world. Jesus Christ. Do you have any tidbit of actual knowledge regarding WWII and Hitler to back this idiocy up, or are you just going to assume that people will go along with it? It was because Hitler *wouldn’t* forfeit Germany’s sovereignty that we got WWII, you numpty.

    • edzyl blane

      Yes, they were traitors for Hitler, but they were also martyrs for everyone else.

    • Take profits

      Why would you even wish to make such a point???

  • Kate Cooley

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m finding these Knowledgenuts articles are really flimsy. Listverse used to really do a good job, but these are like the “lazy high school report” version of articles. This one even repeats the opening almost verbatim at the end. Lazy.

  • phat

    “…target of dozens of assassination plots against his life. Obviously, none were successful…”

    Ya exept the plot to kill Hitler, orchestrated by Hitler.

    • Marozia

      No doubt Hitler had inside knowledge that these plots were going to happen. When a bomb was planted to kill him, he always seemed to turn up late to the event or stand in the wrong spot. I mean, really!!…how many times can that happen before the conspirators catch on?

      • Arsenal1Again

        Saddam Hussain in Iraq had more escapes. Both he and Hitler used body doubles, they were infamous for it. There is still doubt cast over the final fate of Hitler at the end of WWII. There was a Hitler in a bunker, a Hitler in a Plane wreckage and a Hitler witnessed leaving a Submarine in Argentina.

        • Marozia

          Very true. I believe Hitler had 3 doubles. One in Berlin, one in Berchtesgarten and one probably hovering somewhere.

          • jg collins

            The actual number was probably between twelve and eighteen. Some had not had their teeth worked on to prevent dental identification. None were found alive, as far as I know.

    • Jack

      where do u think the old saying “if you’re gonna do it right, do it yourself” comes from.

  • Lana Bo-banna

    I’m convinced that Scientology leader David Miscavige is the reincarnation of Joseph Goebbles. Ass wanted to be the leader in this life.

    • Marozia

      Looks a bit like Goebbels too.

  • Micho Rizo

    Sure are alot of Nazi historians in here…….hmm.

    • John

      And what, exactly, does that mean?

  • John End

    This seems like BS, next you’ll say he killed a bunch of Jews.

  • norse of Melbourne

    I think some of you are on the right track, but not the right train. Others have missed the train completely and I have absolutely no idea which one they’ve caught.
    Von Staffy (only his mates could call him that or Patch =P) was a Nazi as were most Germans in official places.
    The reason they wanted a cessation to the war was they could see themselves losing – heavily and wanted to surrender to THE US/British forces before the Russians arrived. They knew they were going to be in very deep shit if that happened. They figured if they could kill Hitler and set in motion a takeover of Germany by the German army and set in place a Govt that had ‘the best German interests at heart’ the Allies would go easy on them and except there terms of surrender. If only ‘Patch’ Von Staffy had waited about nine more months he might have outlived the war.

  • Peter Petropolis

    Why is Hess in the photograph? It implies he was still in Germany at the time of the bombing. In fact he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and had been for nearly two years. If you are going to chose a picture to illustrate your story, at least a give it some thought.

  • Peter Petropolis

    You state TWICE that Hitler watched the execution movies for amusement. In fact, this supposition is based on the testimony of only one man (Speer) and is DIScounted by the testimony of nearly 50 other insiders.

  • TruthPrevails

    I’ve just recently come to realize what many wiser people are saying. YOU CANT STOP AN IDEAOLGY BY KILLIMG THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE IT. Right now, what I consider to be Nazis are whispering into Donald Trumps ears. Just moths ago he said this : BUSH KNEW ABOUT 911 . AND HE LIED. HE LIED ABOUT WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN IRAQ. THERE WERE NO WEAPONS AND HE KNEW THERE WERE NO WEAPONS. NOW THE IRAQ IDS A WRECK. WE DONT EVEN HAVE IT…. By 10:00am the next morning, he was backtracking. Now, let’s assume Hitlers took poison, shot himself and had aide set his body on fire… Did the ideology die? Where would you LEAST expect it to show up on the planet Earth again?????? Israel. They’re using the exact same playbook. Exact same one……

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  • Martin Macdonald

    Hitler has been found alive and has reluctantly agreed to lead Germany again. But this time he says, “No more Mr. Nice Guy.”