The best books on plots to kill Hitler

Brian Walters Author Of Treason: Claus von Stauffenberg and the Plot to Kill Hitler
By Brian Walters

The Books I Picked & Why

The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945

By Peter Hoffmann

The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945

Why this book?

Peter Hoffmann’s father was involved in the resistance. For more than fifty years Professor Hoffmann has documented the history of the Germans who struggled against Nazism. He interviewed each eyewitness who was available and has compiled authoritative studies on the subject.

His unprecedented access and diligent pursuit of detail cannot be replicated, as all the key players have since died. Dense with detail, the book will appeal to scholars rather than the general reader, but it is the last word on the subject.


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The Secret War Against Hitler

By Fabian von Schlabrendorff, Andrew Chandler

The Secret War Against Hitler

Why this book?

On 13 March 1943, Schlabrendorff – a German officer in Russia – smuggled a bomb onto Hitler’s aircraft. Inexplicably, the bomb failed to explode. After the July plot, Schlabrendorff was tortured and then brought before the Nazi ‘People’s Court’ – but an Allied air raid killed the judge, and miraculously Schlabrendorff survived the war. He wrote one of the earliest accounts of the German opposition to Hitler. His important role makes this an essential account of the German resistance.


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Soldier in the Downfall: A Wehrmacht Cavalryman in Russia, Normandy, and the Plot to Kill Hitler

By Baron Rudolf-Christoph von Gersdorff, Anthony Pearsall

Soldier in the Downfall: A Wehrmacht Cavalryman in Russia, Normandy, and the Plot to Kill Hitler

Why this book?

On 21 March 1943 Gersdorff, a German colonel, showed Hitler around a display of captured weapons in Berlin. He set off the timer for a bomb secreted in his capacious army pocket, but Hitler suddenly left the building: Gersdorff was unable to follow, and had to race to a toilet cubicle to tear the fuse from his bomb. Gersdorff was a committed opponent of the Nazis, and his account traces the highs and lows of the German opposition.


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The Von Hassell Diaries

By Ulrich von Hassell

The Von Hassell Diaries

Why this book?

After his dismissal as German ambassador to Italy in 1938, Ulrich von Hassell kept a detailed diary, which he hid by burying it in his garden. He met frequently with resistance figures, including Stauffenberg. Designated foreign minister if the July plot succeeded, the Nazis placed him on trial. Despite the Nazis’ attempt to humiliate him by refusing to let him wear a belt or tie, and allowing him only a rumpled suit, Hassell cut a stylish figure with his pocket-handkerchief and his poised bearing. At one point, he calmly told the foaming judge: ‘Herr President, I have not lived sixty-two years to be told by you that I am a liar.’ He was hanged.

His diary is an essential primary source on the German opposition to Hitler.


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The Power of Solitude: My Life in the German Resistance

By Marion Yorck von Wartenburg

The Power of Solitude: My Life in the German Resistance

Why this book?

Marion Yorck von Wartenburg, along with her husband Peter (a relative of Claus von Stauffenberg), were leading figures in the group of opponents to Hitler known as ‘the Kreisau circle’. The group usually met in the Yorcks’ home.

After the failure of the July plot, Peter was executed. Marion was held in solitary confinement for 3 months, but survived the war. She later became a judge. Her first-hand account provides an important perspective on the German resistance.


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