On this day July 20, 1944

Adolf Hitler survived an assassination attempt by German Resistance member Claus von Stauffenberg, who hid a bomb inside a briefcase during a conference at the Wolfsschanze military headquarters in East Prussia.

The conference room after the explosion

The conference room after the explosion

The  plot was a failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, inside his “Wolf’s Lair” field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia.

The plot was the culmination of the efforts of the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi regime.

The failure of both the assassination and the military coup d’état which was planned to follow it led to the arrest of at least 7,000 people by the Gestapo.

According to records of the Führer Conferences on Naval Affairs, 4,980 people were executed, resulting in the destruction of the resistance movement in Germany.

At 10:00 hours on 20 July Stauffenberg flew back to the Wolfsschanze for another Hitler military conference, once again with a bomb in his briefcase.

Around 12:30 hours as the conference began, Stauffenberg made an excuse to use a washroom in Wilhelm Keitel’s office where he used pliers to crush the end of a pencil detonator inserted into a 1 kg block of plastic explosive wrapped in brown paper, that was prepared by Wessel von Freytag-Loringhoven.

The detonator consisted of a thin copper tube containing acid that would take ten minutes to silently eat through wire holding back the firing pin from the percussion cap. He then placed the primed bomb quickly inside his briefcase having been told his presence was required. He entered the conference room and with the unwitting assistance of Major Ernst John von Freyend he placed his briefcase under the table around which Hitler and more than 20 officers had gathered

After a few minutes, Stauffenberg made an excuse and left the room. At 12:40 the bomb detonated, demolishing the conference room. Three officers and the stenographer were seriously injured and died soon after, but Hitler survived. His trousers were blown off and he suffered only minor injuries. It was discovered later that he was saved because Colonel Heinz Brandt had moved the briefcase to the opposite side of a heavy table leg when it bumped against his foot, thus (unwittingly) deflecting the blast.

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