On This Day In History: Hitler Tells Germany That ‘I am Still Alive’ After Bomb (1944)

Attentat vom 20. Juli 1944 Besichtigung der zerstörten Baracke im Führerhauptquartier "Wolfsschanze" bei Rastenburg, Ostpreußen (v.l.n.r.: X, Bormann, X, Göring, Bruno Loerzer - Generaloberst der Luftwaffe; X)

On this day in 1944, Adolf Hitler goes on radio to announce to the world that an attempt on his life has failed.  He promised that  “accounts will be settled.”

Hitler had survived by sheer luck a bomb that was meant to kill him. He suffered some minor injuries and his eardrums were punctured. However, this did not stop him from taking control of the situation in Germany,  An uprising by elements of the military was meant to coincide with the killing of Hitler. However, this was to be swiftly put down in a matter of hours by the Nazis.

In Berlin, a major believed to be apolitical by the conspirators and willing to carry out any orders given him was told that the Fuhrer was dead. His superiors ordered him to arrest leading Nazis such as Goebbels.  However, before he could be arrested Goebbels demonstrated to the major that the Fuhrer was very much alive and in control of the government.  Hitler gave  direct orders to put down any signs of a mutiny or rebellion in the regular  army. The Berlin garrison was ordered to only take orders from Hitler and Goebbels.

Hitler and his staff in the Wolf’s Lair

The SS then moved into Berlin and occupied key points in the city, this persuaded many involved in planned coup that it had no chance of success.  The uprising had hoped to depose Hitler and the Nazis and to negotiate a peace with the west. This was to save Germany from the horrors of a vengeful Soviet army. The conspirators knew by this stage that the war was as good as lost and they blamed Hitler. They believed that killing Hitler allowed the German people  a chance to save themselves from total defeat.

Hitler ordered a reign of terror to be carried out in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany. Thousands of officers and leading German were arrested, tortured and executed. Count Claus von Stauffenberg, who had carried the bomb into a meeting, in Hitler’s Bunker, was arrested soon after the attack. As a senior officer, he could bring in items without being body searched and could enter Hitler’s HQs known as the ‘Wolf’s Lair’ which was in reality, a bunker, freely.

Von Stauffenberg placed the briefcase with the bomb under a table in a meeting room where Hitler and others were discussing military tactics. He left the room just before the bomb exploded.  He heard the explosion and stated to his fellow conspirators that it was as if an artillery shell had hit the Bunker. Soon however he was dead, he was killed by a fellow officer who was a fanatical Nazi.  The plot had failed and Hitler and his evil henchmen were still alive and ready to prolong the war and Europe’s agony.

wolf's lair 2
Hitler’s bunker after the assassination attempt

Hitler had probably been saved by a heavy table that had shielded him from the full force of the bomb blast.

After the attempted assassination of Hitler, special courts were set up to root out all the enemies of Hitler and the Nazi State. Many Germans who opposed Hitler or who had simply been unlucky were executed and imprisoned. Thousands are believed to have died in the last year of the war in Germany for alleged anti-Nazi activities.