1945: Friedrich Fromm, Claus von Stauffenberg’s executioner

On this date* in 1945, Friedrich Fromm found out that you have to pick a side.

The cunning career army officer had been serving as the head of the Replacement Army.

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.)

5 thoughts on “1945: Friedrich Fromm, Claus von Stauffenberg’s executioner”

  1. Maybe we had different experiences Headsman, but we are now talking about something coming from Germany. I have found the German Wikipedia more than reliable when discussing how and when Nazi’s met their end. In fact so far I have never been able to catch them getting a date wrong on any subject, let alone the demise of their own world war II leaders. As always the Germans tent to be very meticulous. I would move this one to March the 12th. Anyway, keep up the good work. It is unsurpassed, I visit it almost every day.

  2. As the post advertises, it might be mistaken. However, if you’ve found Wikipedia to be very accurate when it comes to dates, you’ve had a different experience than I.

  3. Perhaps March 19 is the date most used on the internet, but the most reliable German soucre, the German wikipedia, mentions March 12. I have found them to be very accurate, especially when it comes to dates…

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