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Valkyrie remembered

July 20, 2010

Ceremonies marking the anniversary of the failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler will be held at sites around Berlin on Tuesday, as Germany remembers the attempt that came closest to killing the Nazi leader.

Hitler surrounded by Generals after the attack
Hitler and many of his top Generals were present when the bomb detonatedImage: dpa

Commemorations in the German capital on Tuesday will mark the anniversary of the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The attempt on the life of the Nazi leader was the culmination of efforts by the German resistance.

The ceremonies begin with an ecumenical service at the Ploetzensee Memorial Center in Berlin, which commemorates the victims of the Nazi regime. The center, formally a prison, was the site of nearly 3,000 executions.

Wolf's Lair after the explosion
Hitler escaped the explosion with his lifeImage: DHM

At midday, government officials will take part in a ceremony at the Bendler Block building to remember the fallen members of the German resistance, many of whom gave their lives in the effort to topple the Nazi regime.

The Bendler Block was the headquarters of the German officers who carried out the failed assassination attempt, known as Operation Valkyrie.

Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Bundesrat President Jens Boehrnsen will attend the event, which will be followed by the laying of wreaths at the site.

The ceremonies will also see over 400 soldiers in Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, give their pledge of allegiance in front of the Reichstag, the German parliament. The rite has been taken annually since July 20, 2008, to honor the plotters of the failed attempt on Hitler's life.

Close to success

Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg
Stauffenberg gave his life in the effort to topple HitlerImage: dpa

On July 20, 1944, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in a briefcase inside Hitler's Wolf's Lair field headquarters near Rastenberg in East Prussia, now a part of Poland.

The briefcase was positioned under an oak table in a room where Hitler and a host of Nazi military personnel were holding a meeting. However, one of the table's heavy supports protected Hitler from the explosion, leaving him virtually unscathed but killing four others.

Hours later, Stauffenberg flew back to Berlin in an attempt to initiate a military coup, but was rounded up, along with other accused co-conspirators, and executed in the courtyard of the Bendler Block building, from which the resistance had sought to initiate the post-assassination coup.

Author: Darren Mara (AP/dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner