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Germany

The Last of Hitler's Would-Be Assassins Dies

The last surviving participant in the July 20 plot against Hitler has died at age 90. Former army officer Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager provided the explosives for the unsuccessful attack on the German leader.

Philipp von Boeselager standing in front of a portrait of his brother Georg

Philipp von Boeselager said the Holocaust motivated his opposition to Hitler

The bomb exploded but the Nazi leader escaped with slight injuries because an officer had moved the briefcase containing the explosives behind a sturdy leg of an oak table.

Von Boeselager was not executed unlike most of the other officers directly involved in the attempted assassination in 1944 because his co-conspirators refused to reveal his identity.

Von Boeselager advocate of Cruise film

Tom Cruise in Valkyrie

Von Boeselager was one of the few defenders of the film about the 20 July plot

This chapter of German history is currently being turned into a movie with Tom Cruise playing Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the plotter who planted the bomb.

Von Boeselager, who died early on Thursday morning (May 1), had welcomed the film, which has been controversial because of the involvement of the Scientologist Cruise, saying that it could help the Americans to understand more about the German resistance.

The former army officer had also been selected to assassinate Hitler in an earlier plot, but the plan -- which was due to be executed on 13 March 1943 -- was cancelled, when it became clear that Heinrich Himmler, whom the plotters also wanted to kill, would not be accompanying the German leader. He always expressed regret for not having gone ahead when he had the opportunity.

Von Boeselager, whose brother Georg was also involved in the resistance, always cited the Holocaust as his motive for wanting to assassinate Hitler. He told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily in one of his last interviews that he could not have slept if he had refused to take part.

He said that he first heard of the Nazi killings during his time at the Russian front in June 1942 -- in this particular case the murder of Sinti and Roma.

Until shortly before his death, the former army officer had given talks and lectures in schools and other venues across Germany about National Socialism and the resistance organized by von Stauffenberg and Henning von Tresckow.

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