Forget Tom Cruise--Read The True Story Of The Nazi Plot To Assassinate Hitler

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Try to imagine the following scenario. It is the winter of 1944 and the great German offensive in the Ardennes is threatening to push the Allied forces into the sea. To avert this disaster, General Patton, commander of the US Third Army, approaches General Bradley, commander of the 12th Army Group, and General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, with the proposition that they assist in the assassination of President Roosevelt. He holds the president responsible for America's participation in the war against Germany, and for the impending debacle. Patton tells the two commanders what they had known for a long time, which is that a good number of high-ranking American officers and also some distinguished civilian leaders are planning the assassination--and that one of the bravest conspirators, a highly decorated and terribly wounded colonel, has obtained easy access to the president, a great opportunity to implement the plan. Both Bradley and Eisenhower find excuses for not participating in the plot (one pleads advanced age, and the other argues that while he is in favor of the overthrow, murder would turn Roosevelt into a martyr), but neither summons the MPs to arrest the treasonous general. Patton returns to his post and soon thereafter the brave colonel attempts the assassination, but the president miraculously survives. On the very same day, Patton, the colonel, and several other American officers are arrested, tried, and executed--not by the police, or by the military authorities, but by a fellow-conspirator trying to save his skin. The war continues into the next year, with immense losses on both sides. It is insanely far-fetched, I know. But it is no different, in essence, from what happened in Nazi Germany in July 1944, when some generals approached Field Marshal Rommel, the commander of Europe's western defenses, and Field Marshal Rundstedt, the commander of all German military forces in the West, with the request that they head the plot to assassinate Hitler. The two declined, with the above-mentioned arguments; and neither of them lifted a finger to prevent the plot from succeeding. The four German field marshals in the East, each one in charge of an army group, also knew about the plan to rid Germany and humanity of the tyrant, and they, too, did not betray the plot. All in all, we do not know of a single officer among the thousands aware of the conspiracy who tried to prevent it. When time came for retribution, and a generals' court of honor was duly convoked in order to deprive the conspirators of their military rank and to drum them out of the army, the president of the court, Field Marshal Rundstedt, should himself have been sitting on the defendants' bench for having failed to report the assassination project. For a large part of the German army high command had been looking forward to the assassination of their commander-in-chief, and to the drastic reorganization of their system of government. And yet Rundstedt's court of honor proceeded to degrade and to expel from the army such illustrious commanders as Field Marshal von Witzleben, allowing for their torture and strangulation with a thin wire while dangling from a butcher's hook....

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