Conspiracy and Betrayal Around Hitler
- VERSCHWÖRUNG UND VERRAT UM HITLER URTEIL DES FRONTSOLDATEN: [CONSPIRACY AND BETRAYAL AROUND HITLER: A COMBAT SOLDIER'S VERDICT] by Otto Ernst Remer, Brigadier General Retired [Generalmajor a.D.]. Preussisch Oldendorf, Germany: Verlag K.W. Schlütz, KG, Third Printing, 1984, 336 pages, illustrated.
Reviewed by H. Keith Thompson
A few exciting hours after the July 20, 1944, assassination attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler, Otto Ernst Remer, then an army major commanding the Berlin Guard Regiment, was ordered by General von Hase (a conspirator) to arrest Dr. Goebbels, propaganda minister and Gauleiter of Berlin. Remer relives for the reader the dramatic events that followed, detailing his personal involvement in those events and reporting on his subsequent in-depth study of the personalities and particulars of the several conspiracies against Hitler and Germany. From Remer's discussions with Hitler, who personally decorated him for bravery in action, Hitler is revealed as a concerned commander, receptive to and understanding of the problems and circumstances of the soldier at the front.
There is a definite continuity between Remer's wartime bravery and the enormous courage he has shown in his active politics and his writings in the postwar period. Germans -- politicians, editors and others -- must wrestle with the tortuous problem of how to pay homage to the "bomb plotters" and yet not dismiss the great sacrifices and sufferings of the vast majority of the German armed forces and population. The politicians and others therefore usually try to do a balancing act, attempting to distinquish between "Germany" and "Nazi Germany." Remer repeatedly and courageously points out the impossibility and utter hypocrisy of such distinctions. The Allies certainly did not make distinctions before, during, or after the war. Even the conspirators themselves finally learned that bitter lesson. "What we in the German resistance didn't really want to grasp, we've subsequently learned completely: the war really wasn't waged against Hitler, but against Germany," said former bomb plotter and Bundestag President Eugen Gerstenmaier (in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 21, 1976, as quoted by Remer on p. 12).
In 1951, Remer published a book on the conspiracy of July 20, 1944. The present volume considers not only that one attempt but the entire network of betrayal surrounding Hitler and the Third Reich. Remer is very familiar with the existing literature on the subject and cites numerous authorities, including David Irving.
General Remer unmasks the conspirators as a clique of cowardly, incompetent traitors. In individual and collective analyses of their perfidy, he contrasts them with the majority of German officers who remained loyal to their oath even though they were no less aware of Germany's desperate struggle against overwhelming odds than were the conspirators.
Some elements in the Federal Republic, particularly officials, have attempted to make "heroes" of the conspirators. Remer effectively removes that fake patina of saintliness, those fabricated halos placed on the heads of traitors. For example, new uniforms and equipment were scheduled for demonstration to Hitler at a military briefing The plotters prepared explosives for concealment in the uniforms which the enlisted men involved in the demonstration would be wearing, and in the equipment they were to demonstrate. Hitler's schedule changed and the demonstration was cancelled. Remer does not fail to point out the ugliness in the grotesque spectacle of monocled general officers unwilling to put their own lives on the line but ready to sacrifice the lives of unknowing enlisted troops. Those soldiers were spared by fate. But, because of the treasonous activities of the conspirators, many other German soldiers were not so fortunate, as Remer shows in citing from battle casualty reports, and the postwar memoirs of many of the conspirators who admit that their doings cost the lives of German soldiers. The German campaigns in Crete and Norway, for instance, were successful. Nevertheless, the cost in German lives would have been far less if the conspirators had not revealed to the enemy, in advance, details of those and many other German military and naval operations.
Some conspirators waited for the fortunes of war to turn before becoming active traitors. Others, in high places long before the war began, have alleged that they wanted to show "the world" that there was "another Germany." Perhaps the presence of so many prominent and highly placed traitors in Germany encouraged Britain and France to make their absurd "guarantee" of Poland's ludicrous frontiers, and thus precipitate World War II. The treasonous activities of the various echelons of conspirators did nothing to keep the Allies from ruthlessly pursuing their objective, the destruction of Germany and the fixing of frontiers even more unnatural than those drawn after World War I.
Although the Allies (including the Badoglio Italians) never tire of producing self-glorifying films dealing with their own alleged World-War-II heroism, those same Allies have displayed some reluctance to show the July 20 conspirators in a heroic, noble light. Remer quotes from Scottish Pastor Peter H. Nicoll's book, England's War Against Germany (p. 501):
One can understand the extreme severity of the proceedings against the conspirators. And no one can doubt that they would have fared just as badly in England if we had had to deal with them under similar, extreme circumstances.
Fortunately, the July 20, 1944, conspirators lacked character and courage. Consider the case of Count von Stauffenberg, who carried the bomb in his briefcase into Hitler's conference room and positioned it under the large table so as to do maximum damage to Hitler. But Stauffenberg was quick to leave the room and scamper away to save his life. Fate decreed that another officer, annoyed by the briefcase near his feet, unknowingly moved it into a position where it was less effective. The course of history was altered by the failure of Stauffenberg to see it through.
Many well-known Communists, like Sorge, were involved in conspiracies against Hitler and Germany. This is less surprising. Ironically, however, many of the conspirators, like Stauffenberg, belonged to the landed aristocracy. It is a further irony that most of the citadels of the "Junker" class were in Ostelbien, areas east of the Elbe, including Central Germany and former Eastern Germany, now divided between Poland and the Soviet Union after the postwar expulsions of the native German population. The aristocrats thus helped dig their own graves. There are lessons here to be learned by our own domestic liberals, anxious for a detente with Communism.
Privately, very privately, many Germans express contentment that Remer's voice is heard on the German scene. Because anti-Nazi fantasizing in the media is so prevalent and continues so intensely and unrelentingly, even Germans who, from personal experience, should know better, occasionally find themselves caught up in these horror fantasies, reacting as the media manipulators intend. Audiences are being mythologized and trained to approach the Third Reich the same way they see Dracula, Frankenstein, or space monster films, the same way they listen to the tormented ravings of the gypsy Azucena in Verdi's Il Trovatore, whose mother went up in flames and who threw her own baby into those fires. Obsessively she recounts and relives the flaming agony.
It is no wonder that Jews whose families haven't been in Europe for generations, and even non-Jews, have been so "holocausted," so hyped by relentless media onslaughts, that they are instantly ready to characterize the Third Reich as a horror story, a thing of "demonic forces" or "moral decay," supremely, uniquely evil. Remer has the courage to ask loudly, very loudly:
What demons? What decay? What are you talking about? The moral values and attitudes we learned at home and in the Hitler Youth, the spirit that prevailed in Nazi Germany, was anything but "decadent," or "demonic" or in any way "evil" [Remer is here paraphrased, not quoted directly].
General Remer reminds many Germans of what they know to be true -- that the Third Reich was a time of moral and physical renewal, of high standards in public morality, of discipline and integrity, of striving for ancient ideals and new forms in which to embody them.
If I had to choose any one word to characterize Remer, it would be courage. Others might be honor and honesty. In the late 1940's he organized, with Dr. Fritz Dorls, Dr. Gerhard Krüger and others, the Sozialistische Reichspartei (SRP), founded in October 1949. Gains were evidenced as early as July, 1950, when the SRP polled 19,960 votes in an election in Schleswig-Holstein. In June of the following year, the SRP polled 366,790 votes in Lower Saxony. This show of strength by Remer, in a defeated, dismembered country still in the. throes of the "denazification" and "re-education" imposed by the Allies, brought down massive suppression and persecution by the Bonn regime, which ultimately outlawed the legally constituted politcal party. This reviewer had first-hand experience of that period as the SRP's U.S. agent, and was active in attempting to counter the various legal actions against Remer and others.
General Remer is still politically active today  as head of Die Deutsche Freiheitsbewegung (German Freedom Movement). Just as good, safe relations with Russia were a cornerstone of Bismarck's foreign policy, Remer and his organization advocate total European collaboration, from Iberia to the Urals, thus including Russia. In Remer's vision of a new, rejuvenated, united Europe, Great Britain and the U.S. would be excluded. Remer realizes that it was the Anglo-American power block, the British Empire (its Canadian and Australian dominions, its colonies, its African and Asian soldiers), and behind them the Americans, bemused by Jewish propaganda and cowed by Jewish pressure, who were twice instrumental in effecting Germany's defeat The historical reasons for such a program are eminently understandable. Many geopolitical thinkers, for instance Francis Parker Yockey, were early supporters of this viewpoint. In 1988, few can fail to respect Remer's courage and honesty in advancing it It is possible that he can become the inspiring, visionary leader needed by Europe to effect its liberation from the counter-cultural forces which now infest and occupy it, and guide it toward a future free of economic and armed conflicts.
With its detailed case histories, lists and statistics, and comprehensive bibliography, Verschwörung und Verrat um Hitler is an indispensable work for any study of the Third Reich and its internal enemies. Even if your German is limited, you should have this book. It is recommended for anyone interested in 20th-century heroism in the face of adversity, and for anyone capable of appreciating individuals like Otto Ernst Remer, who embody political courage and vision, and even more important, personal courage and integrity.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1988 (Vol. 8, No. 1), pages 100-104.
About the Author
Harold Keith Thompson, Jr. (1922-2002) was a leading American authority on the Nuremberg Trials. He worked in public relations, and was also a corporate executive based in New York City. As a publicist and literary agent, his clients included Fulgencio Batista, Carol II of Romania and Hans-Ulrich Rudel. He was a graduate of Yale University. In 1941 he became a special overseas agent of Germany's Reich Security Service. He was the author/ editor (with Henry Strutz) of the book Dönitz at Nuremberg: A Re-Appraisal. In 1982 he addressed the fifth conference of the Institute for Historical Review, and also wrote for the IHR's Journal of Historical Review.