No Redemption20 Jul 2004
Today is the 60th anniversary of the attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944. The date is well marked in Germany. The Bendlerblock, the Wehrmacht headquarters in Berlin where the conspirators were executed that same evening, has become a shrine of sorts for the present-day Bundeswehr, and the date has been marked in recent years by a ceremony for new recruits in the Bendlerblock courtyard.
I imagine the date passes elsewhere almost unnoticed. Indeed, the failed coup is no more than a tragic asterisk in the history of the war. Modern Germany would desperately like to find a pinpoint of light, to grasp a shred of redemption from that absolute darkness. The German reverence of 20 July is an attempt at self-therapy, to forget all the horrors, when in fact the world will not forget the horrors carried out by Germans.
The plotters of 20 July were not saints or heroes, but human beings who recovered their humanity all too late. May they rest in peace.
Update: Bill, Duncan, Lilli Marleen and Webpropaganda on this as well. Most of them mention Hans & Shophie Scholl as truer heroes than the plotters of 20 July. While I admire the Scholls, I don't think the comparison is apt. The White Rose was a bold and heroic gesture, doomed to failure from the start. The Wehrmacht officers, on the other hand, were willing allies of Hitler for years before July 1944.