German Cavalry and the 20 July Plot to Kill Hitler

bundesarchiv_bild_183-c0716-0046-003__claus_schenk_graf_v__stauffenbergWanted to crosspost this picture from the militaryhorse discussion forum showing Von Stauffenberg mounted.  He was an excellent rider and one of the best in the German army.  See this short biography which has some interesting tidbits on his career.  The intersting thing that is pointed out in the discussion of the movie Valkyrie in the forum that at least 5 of the plotters were from the same cavalry regiment, Reiter Regiment 17, in Bamberg.  Anyway…I love the picture.  Beautiful example of the classic German trakenier cavalry mount.  Also, there are some other interesting pictures of Stauffenberg in a tribute online at the German Stern Magaine.

boeslager     philipp-boeselager-_667558e

Two other very important plotters who were also cavalry officers were the brother Georg (left) and Philipp (right) von Boeselager.  Georg von Boeselager, in addition to being a player in the anti-Hitler army movement, was one of the leaders who reintroduced horse cavalry into the German army after it was abondoned in 1942.  Georg was a highly decorated colonel, winner of the knights cross with oak leaf and swords, who was killed in action on the Russian front in 1944.  Philipp did not have as much front experience as his brother but was one of the few plotters who was not found out.  He survived the war and helped organized the Bundeswehr after the war.  I had the honor of meeting Philipp Boeslager at the 1985 NATO reconnaissance competition named for his brother Georg.  Philipp passed away in May 2008. 

An intersting note is that one of Philipp’s daughters Maria-Felicitas Baronin von Boeselager, married into the Stauffenberg family, marrying Patrick von Stauffenberg.  Though I haven’t figured out the exact connection, I suspect Patrick is a son of  Claus’s brother Alexander.  Thus bringing two very prominent anti-Hitler cavalry families full circle.

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Valkyrie Review

valkyrieSaw the movie today and I’ll start by saying I am NOT a Tom Cruise fan. But….It was well made, authentic, and enjoyable. Well worth your movie $. A word of caution however, this movie is history, so I was inclined to love it.

Having said that, I also brought along  my teenage daughter.  She agreed its a quality production, well acted, and good story well told. Also had a German officer student with me. He found the movie very true to the history as taught in Germany and as honored in the German army. He enjoyed the movie immensley.

Four personal observations from me:

1. Overall very little action of the Saving Private Ryan variety. Not really expected so not a big deal.

2. Given that we all know how it ends, the director, acting, and screenplay manage to keep the tension high, the suspense active, and movie moving at a crisp pace.

3. No major short-coming in terms of accuracy of the story or the on-screen details. Uniforms, equipment, and locations are particularly well done. The opening scene in N. Africa was the only “battle” scene and was well done. The uniform details  were particularly impressive.

4. Alot of information is crammed into a short movie with no loss of the essentials. However, it would have been nice if they could have developed the Stauffenberg character more thoroughly. They made the attempt by introducing his family and the potential effects of his actions on them. However, they didn’t develop fully the moral dilemma of German officers choosing between loyalty to country, conscience, and the oath they took to Hitler.  They also underplayed (ignored?) the religious/moral aspect of Stauffenberg’s motiviation.

I would give it 4 stars out of 5.

Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 2:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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