Schroeder honors plotters of Hitler assassination plan

berlin (ap) | German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder confronted the lingering demons of the Nazi era Tuesday, July 20, and honored Germany’s oft-forgotten resistance movement.

Sixty years after the plot to kill Hitler failed, Schroeder said that the army officers, civic leaders and ordinary people who usually paid with their lives were heroes.

Germans should remember not only Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, the aristocratic Nazi army officer who tried to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb placed under their conference table on July 20, 1944, Schroeder said. He delivered his address at the World War II army headquarters where Stauffenberg was executed by firing squad the same night after Hitler survived the bomb.

“Tens of thousands of them were deported to prisons and concentration camps, driven into exile or killed,’ he said. They included labor and church leaders, Social Democratic and Communist politicians, and students.

The high-profile commemoration of the plotters came as Germany increasingly sheds the legacy of the Third Reich, as evidenced by Schroeder’s invitation to D-Day ceremonies in France last month.

In his comments, Schroeder — at 60 the first German leader with no personal memory of the war — said those Germans who opposed Hitler from the first were members of the resistance too. “Resistance against the dictatorship began already in 1933, when the Nazis had seized power,’ he told the ceremony.

Schroeder said July 20 is a reminder to Germans to “defend again and again the values of freedom and tolerance that we consider so self-evident today.’