5 comments March 19th, 2010 Headsman
On this date* in 1945, Friedrich Fromm found out that you have to pick a side.
This position provided access to the Fuhrer for Fromm — and for his chief of staff, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg. And it gave his office the authority to issue the “Valkyrie” orders for quelling civil unrest that Stauffenberg’s circle would use to attempt to seize Berlin.
Fromm realized that his underling was involved in a plot against the Nazi dictator, but neither joined it nor smashed it.
This play-it-safe approach turned out not to be safe at all. When Stauffenberg’s attempt to assassinate Hitler failed, Fromm hastily attempted to cover his tracks by summarily executing Stauffenberg and co-conspirators.
Not all that subtle, really. “You’ve been in a damned hurry to get your witnesses below ground,” Joseph Goebbels sneered.
Heinrich Himmler quickly had Fromm arrested. “Fate does not spare the man whose convictions are not matched by his readiness to give them effect,” wrote July 20th conspirator Hans Speidel. (As cited by Shirer.)
Although in Friedrich Fromm’s case, that wasn’t entirely true.
In recognition of the general’s calculated but not-unhelpful show of loyalty on the decisive date (enacted when Fromm realized the plotters had made a dog’s breakfast of everything) Hitler generously permitted the general to be “honorably” shot … rather than strangled from a meathook.
* Some sources give March 12, rather than March 19. I have been unable to establish primary documentation, but the sites for March 19 are far more numerous. (Years-later update: I probably got this wrong. I’d be better inclined to believe March 12.)
On this day..
- 1875: Jesse Fouks, for murdering the Herndon family - 2016
- 2015: Four more in Pakistan, but not Shafqat Hussain - 2015
- 1330: Edmund of Woodstock, family man - 2014
- 1866: John Dunn, teenage bushranger - 2013
- 1875: Tiburcio Vasquez, California bandido - 2012
- 1906: Pyotr Schmidt, Sevastopol uprising leader - 2011
- 1938: A pig, experimentally - 2009
- 1600: Linköping Bloodbath, the dawn of Sweden's glory - 2008
Tags: 1940s, 1945, claus schenk graf von stauffenberg, claus von stauffenberg, cowardice, fascism, friedrich fromm, heinrich himmler, joseph goebbels, naziism, plot to kill hitler, valkyrie, world war ii