Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Today is the anniversary of the July 20th 1944 bomb plot against Hitler and the German Nazi regime. Many of the conspirators, military and civilian, in this attempt at tyrannicide were convinced and devout Christians, both Catholic and Protestant; the resistance included the Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Jesuit, Fr Alfed Delp, both of whom were executed for their involvement.
The attempt was, as we know, unsuccessful, but those who carried it out and supported it should be honoured, for, even in the knowledge that their cause was probably doomed to failure, they nevertheless acted against a monstrous evil in accordance with conscience and truth. They were not all saints, not all of them were untainted by previous associations or compliance with what they came to realise was a demonic regime, but they acted honourably and decently and deserve not to be forgotten.

"The whole world will vilify us now, but I am still totally convinced that we did the right thing. Hitler is the archenemy not only of Germany but of the world. When, in few hours' time, I go before God to account for what I have done and left undone, I know I will be able to justify what I did in the struggle against Hitler. God promised Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom if just ten righteous men could be found in the city, and so I hope that for our sake God will not destroy Germany. No one among us can complain about his death, for whoever joined our ranks put on the shirt of Nessus. A man's moral worth is established only at the point where he is ready to give up his life in defence of his convictions." 
Major-General Henning von Tresckow, conspirator.

"During these long weeks of confinement I have learned by personal experience that a person is truly lost, is the victim of circumstances and oppression only when he is incapable of a great inner sense of depth and freedom. Anyone whose natural element is not an atmosphere of freedom, unassailable and unshakable whatever force may be put on it, is already lost; but such a person is not really a human being any more; he is merely an object, a number, a voting paper. And the inner freedom can only be attained if we have discovered the means of widening our horizons. We must progress and grow, we must mount above our own limitations."    
Fr Alfred Delp S.J. 

One of the very best accounts of the Widerstand, the German resistance, is still the film by the director, Hava Kohav Beller, ''The Restless Conscience,' (1992) containing documentary footage and interviews with those resisters who survived and their families. It is available now, I think, only in a North American DVD format.

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