Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Operation Valkyrie: The hit that missed Hitler

Colonel Claus Stauffenberg in real life
What do Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and Tom Cruise have in common? Operation Valkyrie—the audacious, albeit failed, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944, in the dying days of the Nazi regime. One real, the other reel. In 2008, Cruise essayed the role of the one-eyed Colonel Stauffenberg, who led the German resistance movement within the Wehrmacht, the three-wing defence force, to near perfection. The German dictator would have most certainly perished in the explosion in the war room if a senior army officer hadn't, unknowingly, moved the bomb-laden briefcase away from Hitler. A day later Stauffenberg and his conspirators were rounded up and shot for high treason.

Operation Valkyrie, directed by Bryan Singer (of Battlestar Gallactica, Superman Returns and X-Men fame), is a well-made film that tells more than the story of the attempt to kill Hitler. It also tells the story of one man's enormous courage and conviction in the face of overwhelming odds: to destroy the dictator and liberate Germany before the US-led Allied Forces did. Stauffenberg actually believed that he could do it though somewhere in the back of his mind he knew, more than anyone else, that it was all over, one way or the other.

Tom Cruise as the brave colonel on reel.
If Stauffenberg, who was incidentally born in an aristocratic family, had succeeded in his deadly mission, history might have been just a little different. Hitler was destined to die, be it from a bomb or a bullet. The warlord chose the latter.

Here's an aside: William L. Shirer, the well-known American journalist, war correspondent and historian who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, also wrote, quite necessarily, The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler which contains a chapter on the 1944 plot to kill the dictator.

In my opinion, Operation Valkyrie, which, in Norse mythology means "chooser of the slain" or something to that effect, rates high among films on World War II. If you are a war buff, watch the film and, while you are at it, read the book too.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, "Valkyries" in Norse mythology were the warriors of Odin who fought along side gods of Asgard during the final showdown Ragnorok. They were fearless warriors that before Ragnorok trained themselves endlessly in preparation for the final showdown.

    If you want know more about them and Norse mythology in general, may i recomewnd readingt the book "Prose edda"? its has an abundant information on Germanic mythologly. :)