Skip to comments.BRITISH TANKS DRIVE 7 MILES BEYOND CAEN; RUSSIANS CROSS THE BUG, CLOSE ON LWOW (7/20/44)
Posted on 07/20/2014 5:08:38 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Hitler survives bomb plot
Thursday, July 20, 1944 www.onwar.com
Adolf Hilter announcing the failure of the plot to kill him [photo at link]
In Germany... Shortly after noon, a bomb explodes in the conference room at Hitler’s headquarters at Rastenburg, in East Prussia. The bomb was planted by Colonel Count von Stauffenberg. The conspirators include General Beck, Carl Gordeler, Field Marshal Witzleben and General Halder. Most of them are either aristocrats or Roman Catholics. Many others know about the plot, including Rommel, Kluge and Canaris. After it becomes clear that Hitler has survived the plot falls apart. Several of the leading participants, including Stauffenberg, are arrested and shot in Berlin by the end of the day.
On the Western Front... The British 2nd Army continues attacks south and east of Caen. German forces, particularly antitank defenses, have reduced the Allied momentum.
In the Mariana Islands... The bombardment of Tinian is expanded as army artillery based on Saipan becomes available, in addition to the air attacks and naval shelling.
In the United States... The Bretton Woods conference continues.
July 20th, 1944 (THURSDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: The Eighth Air Force in England flies two missions.
- Mission 484: 1,172 bombers and 542 fighters are dispatched to hit oil and industrial targets in central Germany; 19 bombers and 8 fighters are lost:
1. Of 417 B-17s dispatched, 107 hit Dessau, 69 hit Kothen, 56 hit Leipzig/Mockau, 45 hit the Leipzig bearing industry, 36 hit Nordhuasen Airfield, 23 hit Kolleda Airfield, 20 hit targets of opportunity, 12 hit Bitterfeld, 12 hit Giessen Airfield, and 12 hit Rudolstadt; they claim 11-9-7 Luftwaffe aircraft; 15 B-17s are lost. Escort is provided by 253 P-38 Lightnings, P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs; they claim 5-0-3 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 2-0-0 on the ground; 2 P-47s and 4 P-51s are lost.
2. Of 295 B-17s dispatched, 155 hit Merseburg, 53 hit Lutzkendorf, 47 hit Wetzlar and seven hit targets of opportunity; two B-17s are lost. Escort is provided by 178 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s; they claim 1-1-1 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 1-0-4 on the ground; a P-51 is lost.
3. Of 460 B-24s dispatched, 123 hit Erfurt Nord and 11 hit Erfurt/Bindersleben Airfields; 80 hit Schmalkalden; 72 hit Gotha; 24 hit Freiburg, 18 hit Fulda, 12 hit Idstein, 10 hit Bad Salzungen, 10 hit Wernhausen and nine hit Homburg marshalling yards; 21 hit Berka, 12 hit Bad Nauheim, seven hit Koblenz, six hit Boppard and sxi hit targets of opportunity; a B-24 is lost. Escort is provided by 45 P-47s; they claim 6-0-3 Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground; a P-47s is lost.
- Mission 485: 6 B-17s drop leaflets in France during the night.
- 12 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions.
HMS Crescent (later HMCS Crescent) launched Glasgow.
Minesweeper HMS Jewel launched.
Boom defence vessel HMS Precise launched.
Submarine HMS Vengeful launched.
Destroyers HMS Whirlwind and Zest commissioned.
FRANCE: British 21st Army Group has now accumulated 52,165 casualties since D-Day. There are 2,837 replacements available. (Jay Stone)
The British attacks south and east of Caen are wearing down by the German antitank defence units.
Operation Goodwood, a bold attempt by Dempsey’s Second Army to smash through the German defences south of Caen, has been called off after the British suffered 5,537 casualties and lost 400 tanks. The operation is widely seen by Allied leaders as a failure, despite claims by Montgomery that it was merely a diversionary exercise.
At dawn on 18 July, British and US bombers dropped 7,700 tons of bombs on German positions. The unceasing bombardment was such that some Germans committed suicide. Then, three armoured divisions of VIII Corps rolled forward east of Caen. Rapid progress was made, but by mid-morning the British were stuck in a long tailback behind the narrow bridgehead over the Orne river, hedged in by one of their own minefields and harried by the enemy.
The Germans were well prepared. The I SS Panzer Corps - 80 Panther and Tiger tanks commanded by the dashing SS General Josef “Sepp” Dietrich - rushed north to Bourgebus Ridge, south of Caen. By the end of the day the British and Canadian troops, already contained to the east, were halted at the ridge to the south. Over the last few days the Germans have held off repeated attacks on the ridge. Rather than risk more men and tanks in a bloody assault on superior forces, Montgomery today called off the attack. The Americans have accused him of being unadventurous, but Montgomery maintains that keeping up the pressure will wear down the enemy to the point when he will break. The British commander also argues that the attack has achieved the aim of obliging the Germans to rush troops to the east, thus making it easier for the Americans under Bradley to push out of Avranches in the west.
Weather prohibits morning operations by the USAAF’s Ninth Air Force; in the afternoon 62 A-20 Havocs and B-26 Marauders strike the Senonches fuel dump and Chaulnes marshalling yard; fighters escort the bombers and transports and fly armed reconnaissance against rail lines, bridges, and gun positions south of the frontlines.
Destroyer HMS Isis suffers a violent explosion in Seine Bay, believed caused either by a mine or a Niger or Marder or a Dackel (slow running circling air launched) torpedo strike. Her loss was not discovered until 0219 the following day when HMS Hound picked up 20 survivors from the water. (Alex Gordon)(108)
Frigate HMCS Matane is damaged by a glider bomb off Brest. Two are killed.
ITALY: The Fifteenth Air Force in Italy dispatches about 450 B-17s and B-24s to bomb targets in Germany; B-17s attack the airfield at Memmingen; B-24s bomb the airfield, Zeppelin works, and aircraft factory at Friedrichshafen; P-38s and P-51s provide escort and, with the bombers, claim 19 Luftwaffe aircraft shot down.
GERMANY: A bomb planted in the Lagebaracke, Hitler’s conference room at the “Wolf’s Lair”, Rastenburg, East Prussia, explodes at 12.42pm. Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg has planted this bomb on behalf of a wide-ranging conspiracy of senior officers and a few politicians.
Hitler was studying a map with a magnifying glass while he listened to a report on the calamitous situation on the eastern front. The briefing officer, General Adolf Heusinger, was stopped in mid-sentence by the powerful explosion that sent mangled bodies flying out of windows in a rush of smoke and flame.
A few hundred yards away von Stauffenberg is sure that Hitler must have been killed. He brushed past guards and hurried to the airfield to fly back to Berlin and join his fellow conspirators.
Hitler is only injured. Assuming that he is dead, the coup goes on. Von Stauffenberg takes a three-hour flight to Berlin, goes to the War Ministry expecting to find the coup in full swing. But nothing had been done. The planned telephone call from a supporter at Rastenburg had come through, but the line had been poor and it was not certain that Hitler was dead.
Once it is clear that Hitler has survived, the plot falls apart. The briefcase in which von Stauffenburg had left the bomb had, by pure mischance, been moved by an officer seeking to get closer to the map that the Fuhrer was studying. Four officers died from injuries received in the blast. Suspicion fell on von Stauffenberg when a sergeant recalled that “the one-eyed colonel” had left the room in a hurry. Staff officers then remembered that von Stauffenberg had placed the briefcase under the table. It was some hours before Hitler and his staff discovered the extent of the conspiracy. For the present, the Fuhrer, his eardrums punctured, his right arm temporarily paralysed and his legs burnt, had to turn his attention to receiving Mussolini, himself the victim of an Italian coup. The effects of this bomb are wide ranging. Hitler’s distrust of his generals increases; the physical deterioration caused by the dubious combination of medicines combined with the shock of the explosion further weaken his ability to concentrate; the remaining military are further weakened in their efforts to argue for any type of rational military response to events.
Berlin: The conspirators had planned to replace Hitler with General Ludwig Beck as head of state. Beck had resigned in 1938 as chief of the army general staff in protest at Hitler’s war plans. Carl Goerdeler, a former lord mayor of Leipzig, was chosen as chancellor; he had broken with the Nazis in 1936. His vice-chancellor was to be Wilhelm Leuschner, the former trade union leader. Rommel had agreed to be C-in-C of the army. Ulrich von Hassell, a career diplomat and pre-war ambassador to Rome, was chosen as foreign minister. Of the 12 ministers named, only two, Beck and Rommel, were military men.
Berlin: Von Stauffenberg spent months in hospital recovering from injuries sustained in Tunisia. He lost his right hand, two fingers of his left and his left eye in a minefield explosion in April 1943. One day when he was visited by his wife, Countess Nina, he said: “I feel I must do something now to save Germany. We officers must accept our responsibility.”
A Catholic and a monarchist, he had not, at first, been opposed to the Nazis. Posted to the Berlin War Academy in 1936, he became a general staff officer two years later. His doubts about the Führer began to form during the anti-Jewish pogroms just before the war. His experience of SS atrocities in Russia finally convinced him of the evil of Nazism.
Berlin: The circle of anti-Hitler conspirators was widened after von Stauffenberg became an active member. He rejected the safety-first conservative regime envisaged by the older generation of anti-Nazis, and insisted that socialists and trade unionists should be invited to join them.
Though it was accepted that military units in and around Berlin would have to be used for the seizure of power, it was agreed that the army must not dominate the new government. In order to end the war, the western Allies must be persuaded that German militarism was not being perpetuated.
These visionary plans now lie in ruins. Despite the failure to kill Hitler, von Stauffenberg insisted on going ahead with the coup. The task of surrounding government offices in the Wilhelmstrasse fell to a Major Otto Remer, who was also ordered to arrest Goebbels. When Remer arrived, the propaganda minister got Hitler on the phone and persuaded him to speak to Remer. A few hours later the dumb-founded conspirators heard a radio announcement that Hitler would be broadcasting to the people.
Germany Remembers Plot to Kill Hitler:
Plötzensee Memorial Center:
U-2335 laid down.
PACIFIC: In the Mariana Islands, the pre-invasion bombardment of Guam continues by both carrier-based aircraft and ships. Seventh Air Force P-47s based on Saipan continue preinvasion strikes against Tinian Island while Far East Air Force B-24s bomb the western part of Yap Island. Underwater demolition teams (UDTs) have removed over 900 beach obstacles on Guam for the invasion tomorrow. A total of 640 obstacles were removed on Asan and 300+ on Agat beaches.
PB4Y-1 Liberators of US Navy Patrol Bomber Squadron One Hundred Nine (VB-109) based at Isley Field on Saipan bomb airfields on Iwo Jima, Haha Jima and Chichi Jima in the Bonin and Volcano Islands.
CANADA: Corvette HMCS Cobalt completed foc’sle extension refit Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
U.S.A.: The US Democratic Convention began in Chicago yesterday and will end tomorrow. Franklin D. Roosevelt is nominated 1086 to Senator Byrd with 89 and James Farley with 1. Harry Truman receives 1031 votes for the nomination as Vice President to Henry Wallace with 105 votes.
The US Army Pearl Harbor Board, consisting of Lieutenant General George Grunert and Major Generals Henry D. Russell and Walter A. Frank, are directed to “ascertain and report the facts relating to the (Japanese) attack” on 7 December 1941.
The U.S. Army establishes a Pearl Harbor Board consisting of Lieutenant General George Grunert and Major Generals Henry D. Russell and Walter A. Frank, to “ascertain and report the facts relating to the attack” on Hawaii on 7 December 1941. Their report will be completed on 20 October 1944.
In U.S. baseball, Nels Potter, a pitcher for the St. Louis Browns, is banned for ten days for throwing a spitball; he is the first pitcher ever banned for this practice. Potter will end the season with a 19-7 record for a team that wins the American League pennant.
The motion picture “Since You Went Away,’’ based on Margaret Buell Wilder’s novel “Together,” is released in the U.S. The film is directed by John Cromwell and stars Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, Monty Wooley, Robert Walker, Lionel Barrymore, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead, Guy Madison, Craig Stevens and Keenan Wynn; Dorothy Dandridge, Rhonda Fleming and Ruth Roman appear in bit parts while John Derek and Terry Moore are in uncredited bit parts. This tearjerker has Colbert as the wife of a GI overseas who takes in Wooley as a boarder and then watches as her daughter (Jones) falls in love with Wooley’s grandson (Walker). The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress (Colbert), Best Supporting Actor (Wooley) and Best Supporting Actress (Jones); it won a Best Music award.
Escort carrier USS Gilbert Islands launched.
Submarine USS Tigrone launched.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-965 is attacked by an aircraft, 1 man was killed and 1 wounded. [Matrosenhauptgefreiter Willibald Niederle] (Alex Gordon)
Troop transport Vital de Oliviera sunk by U-861 at 22.29S, 41.09W.
"On July 20, 1944, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg detonated a bomb near Adolf Hitler that damaged Hitler's eardrums, injured his right arm, and burned the Führer, but did not kill him.
The failure to eliminate Hitler unleashed an immediate and murderous response.
"The conspirators in the assassination attempt included important individuals within the German military establishment.
They sought to end Hitler's 'incompetent, unscrupulous leadership.'
Stauffenberg's direct access to Hitler made him the most likely candidate to assassinate the German leader.
"After the bomb was detonated, the conspirators believed that they had successfully killed Hitler.
They moved to take over the War Ministry in Berlin and issue orders to arrest leading Nazis and members of the SS.
Hitler's miraculous survival, however, preempted plans to topple the Nazi regime.
"Hitler's vengeance was rapid and severe.
Participants in the attempted coup were arrested and hanged by wire, dying the most painful of deaths.
The executions were filmed for Hitler, who reportedly enjoyed watching the men twist in agony.
More than 7,000 additional individuals were captured by the Gestapo, 200 of whom were executed."
"Hitler, his right hand trembling following the explosion, inspects the aftermath of the July 20 bombing.
To Hitler's right stands his ally, Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator who had fallen from power and was rescued from imprisonment on Hitler's orders.
Between them is Paul Schmidt, diplomat and Hitler's personal interpreter.
Schmidt later wrote a memoir describing Hitler's personality."
"Ludwig Beck served as chief of the German Army's General Staff.
Initially welcoming Hitler's takeover of the German government, Beck feared a protracted war and resigned as chief of staff in 1938.
Afterward, he participated in the "Wednesday Club" of intellectuals, economists, and politicians opposed to Hitler.
One of the leading July 20 plotters, Beck was considered a likely candidate to replace Hitler as German chief of state.
Before he could be arrested, he unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide.
A soldier with the Guard Battalion finished him off."
"Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, a former mayor of Leipzig, Germany, and former Nazi official, was involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler.
Goerdeler, a unifying force among the July conspirators, was intended to become German chancellor, replacing Hitler, had the conspiracy succeeded.
He was arrested, tried before the People's Court, and executed in February 1945."
"Roland Freisler (center) was president of the Volksgericht (People's Court) from 1942 to 1945.
Here he opens the trial of the July 20 plot conspirators.
A longtime Nazi, Freisler was a fanatic anti-Bolshevik, having been captured by the Russians during World War I and imprisoned for five years in Siberia.
He was infamous for berating prisoners on trial before him.
Freisler was killed by an Allied bomb on February 3, 1945, as he presided over the trial of a conspirator in the July 20 plot."
"Otto Mueller was among Germany's most influential Roman Catholic theologians.
He established the Ketteler House, which became the heart of Catholic anti-Nazi activities in the city of Cologne.
This put him at odds with factions in the Catholic Church that hated and feared the social forces supposedly personified by Jews: liberalism, socialism, and worst of all communism.
The relationship of the German Catholic Church to the Hitler government started off as ambivalent (rather than hostile) in 1933, and stayed that way.
Nevertheless, Mueller continued his efforts and became well known to the Nazi authorities.
He was arrested after the failed July 20, 1944, coup against Hitler and died in prison."
Weird mental picture, that.
That p7-p8 article about Himmler possibly taking over control of the army makes me suspect Wehrmacht officers are plotting a coup of some sort.
It is available from Netflix on DVD.
But, life was not without its more dramatic moments, as some units undergo rigorous amphibious landing training:
Doubtless a perfect metaphor for the 33rd's participation in the war... so far.
So is "Dragon Seed," another major Hollywood offering that opens today. But you might want to wait for tomorrow's reviews before putting that one on your queue.
I appreciate the warning!
Thanks so much for this long reminiscent series. It’s sublime!
You’re welcome, henkster. They are fascinating and beautiful maps.
All hell is breaking loose here. Once again I have to give grudging respect to Monty. He is doing this to fix the panzers in front of the British sector so they can’t go to the aid of the units to the west when Operation Cobra launches.
yes, the article about Himmler possibly taking control of Wehrmacht appointments and even operations had me thinking about the bomb plot — what a remarkable coincidence that both (article and bombing) should occur on the same day.
Freisler actually was a fanatical Bolshevik in the early 20s, and he was always treated with suspicion by the top-level Nazis for that reason.