November 8, 1939: "I wanted to prevent a war" - One Man Against Tyranny

Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2014 07:27 am
The first German republic was proclaimed in Berlin on Nov. 9, 1918. On Nov. 9, 1923, Adolf Hitler attempted to overthrow the German government in Munich. On Nov. 9, 1938, Jewish businesses and synagogues throughout Germany were set on fire during the nationwide pogrom known as the Night of the Broken Glass. And on Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.

But November 8 is as important, though not remembered very much. And even less know is the name of Johann Georg Elser, a German carpenter who planned and carried out an elaborate assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler and other high-ranking Nazi leaders, on 8 November 1939 at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich.

Johann Georg Elser grew up in a working-class family in Württemberg. He started training as an iron turner in 1917, but had to break off his apprenticeship and became a carpenter. He worked in a watch factory in Konstanz from 1925 and a similar company in Meersburg from 1930. In 1932 he returned to Königsbronn and set up a small carpenter’s shop. He made his living doing odd jobs from 1935, working in an instruments factory in Heidenheim/Württemberg from December 1936. He was close to the Roter Frontkämpferbund (Red Front Fighters’ Alliance) for a time, but soon became isolated because he called for decisive resistance against Hitler’s takeover of the government. After the Munich Agreement of fall 1938, Elser decided to engage in militant resistance against the Nazi regime, in the hope of preventing a world war, which he felt was otherwise inevitable. He hid a bomb in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller, where Hitler regularly spoke before “old fighters” from the NSDAP on the anniversary of his putsch attempt of November 9, 1923. By chance, Hitler left the meeting before the explosion on the evening of November 8, 1939. The detonation almost entirely destroyed the Bürgerbräukeller’s gallery and would probably have killed Hitler. A waitress and six members of the audience were killed outright, with another man dying several days later. Elser, who had already left Munich, was arrested on the border to Switzerland at Konstanz an hour before the explosion, and handed over to the Gestapo because of suspicious items in his pockets. He was taken to Berlin in mid-November 1939, and later moved to Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. A planned show trial, constructing non-existent connections between Elser and the British Secret Service, never took place. Shortly before the end of the war, on April 9, 1945, Georg Elser was shot dead in Dachau concentration camp on instructions from "the very top."

Bürgerkeller Munich, before and after the detonation

Source for biography German Resistance Memorial Center
Source for photos: Süddeutsche Zeitung

More infos:
Wikipedia: Johann Elsner

Spiegel: A German Hero: The Carpenter Elser Versus the Führer Hitler

Smithsonian: One Man Against Tyranny

Executed today: 1945: Johann Georg Elser, dogged assassin
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Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2014 08:51 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter, would you speculate on what might have followed had he succeeded?
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2014 09:14 am
I'm not good at all in speculating about that - I have enough problems why it took so long that he got honoured here.

A (in my opinion) very good paper: What does Georg Elser's act of resistance against the Nazi regime tell us about the ability of ordinary people to resist?
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2014 08:42 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Perhaps the "honoring" of Elser is not a known tribute because he failed anyway. One can perceive that he was rebellious with his supervisors, a clue that identifies him as a nobody's land person.

Checking at his personality, one can guess that having him successful with the bombing and killing Hitler, Elser should have found another excuse to complaint against the Swiss government and plant another bomb to kill another leader.

Germany was passing terrible moments due to the economic humiliation imposed by the other countries of Europe (with England as the leader), and for this reason the German populations agreed with the Nazis, who promised "liberation" from that "slavery".

Elser saw his own and personal "world" affected by the measures of the Nazis, but Elser apparently ignored in purpose that the critical and low situation of Germany in those years was caused by foreign intervention instead of the tyrant government.

He might wanted to stop a coming war, but he himself started "a personal war" when he used a bomb.

He lost in both ways, because Germany went to war anyway, and he was killed by his enemy at last.

What he has reached is a recognition for his attempt to kill Hitler before WW2, he almost did it, but apparently his "god" didn't help him to be successful.

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