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1939 Elser assassination attempt succeeds

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  • 1939 Elser assassination attempt succeeds

    This is on the nature of small events changing history. On November 1939, just after Poland is conquered, Hitler does not leave early and the bomb kills him.
    (From Wikipedia)
    In autumn of 1938, Europe was on the verge of war because of the Sudetenland Crisis. After the experience of World War I, Elser was apprehensive about the possibility of another war. Though war was averted at this time, Elser mistrusted Hitler's peace proclamations and considered removing the Nazi leadership by assassination. In order to find out how best to implement his plan, Elser travelled to Munich on 8 November 1938, to attend Hitler's annual speech on the anniversary of Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch. Elser not only judged the poorly guarded event to be a favourable opportunity, but during the same night also witnessed the outbursts of anti-Jewish violence during the Kristallnacht. This experience convinced Elser that a leadership capable of inciting such violence would plunge Germany into a major war, and that only Hitler's death could prevent this from happening.

    Elser chose the next anniversary of the Beerhall Putsch, to kill Hitler with a bomb during his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller. Elser built a time bomb with which he travelled to Munich in the weeks preceding Hitler's anniversary speech. Elser managed to stay inside the Bürgerbräukeller after closing hours each night for over a month, during which time he hollowed out the pillar behind the speaker's rostrum, and placed the bomb inside it. Security was relatively lax as it had been left to local party strongman Christian Weber rather than Reinhard Heydrich.

    While Elser was making these preparations, World War II broke out on 1 September 1939. Because of his intense and laborious preparations, he hardly noticed these and other events. Also unbeknownst to Elser, Hitler initially cancelled his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller because of the war. However, he then changed his mind and attended the anniversary, but planned on returning to Berlin that same night. Fog prevented a flight back to Berlin, forcing Hitler to take the train and to finish his speech earlier than originally planned. Hitler left the beer hall at about 13 minutes before Elser's bomb exploded as planned at 21:20. While Hitler learnt of this attempt on his life later that night on a stop in Nuremberg, eight people died and sixty-three were injured, sixteen of them seriously.

    Bormann or Himmler, and possibly, Goering, would seem to be prime candidates to seize power (or Heydrich? ). In any case, how might events develop?) I believe the wehrmacht high command was not in favor of a war with France and Britain, but Poland had been just occupied and the Russian Pact just signed.

    One scenario might be Germany keeping Danzig, and after a peace between The West and Germany Russia pressured to cede parts of its occupied Poland to a smaller, reconstituted Poland (and much of eastern Poland wasn't ethnic Polish). The allies might (emphasize might) have called for a smallish Czechoslavakia as part of a settlement).

    The interest here is that this is a very possible historical change with potentially enormous consequences. For one, if there's no European War then Japan is uo a creek without a paddle, not just in expansion but in staying in China.

  • #2
    Like so many other early war assasination WI this one crawls off in a hundred directions. There are so many variables in nazi party politics, the army leaders reactions, the residual anti nazi polity among the German citizens.

    As for a settlement with Poland and the Allies, that will be complicated by the mass attrocities already carried out by the nazi occupation. Even by November a few to many Polish politicians, academics, businessmen & other leaders had been imprisoned, abused, and killed for a standard 19th Century peace agreement to fly. The Poles will want blood, the French will want certainlty they will never again have to mobilize their citizens against Germany, th Brits will want a similar certainity they will not soon again have to budget a massive military expansion in peacetime.

    Then there is the matter of the USSR. Will the Red Army and NKVD simply pack up and march back east just because some German leader announced Danzig is satisfactory?

    Settling the mess after Hitlers death is going to be ugly.


    • #3
      Good point about German attrocities in Poland. But I don't think a recreated Polish state (sort of like after the First Partition in the 18th century) would have much say in the matter. And the rump Polish state would provide little more of a problem to the Germans or Soviets then rump Czechoslavakia did to the nazis.

      And if the British and French had a figleaf of "saving" Polish independence would the 1939 leaderships have refused a peace? Stalin might well have ceded at least some of his Polish gains in the interest of time. After all he sent materials into Hitler's Germany right up to June, 1941.

      Problematic without Hitler is any full fledged Final Solution. And there might very well be, if there was no peace, a more traditional wehrmacht French campaign (and a stalemate?).

      But of course the key question is who takes over command of a now Central European dominant Germany? Best (relatively) case might be Martin Bormann and his Anglophile leanings, but there's a nasty nest of vipers as contenders.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Tuor View Post
        But of course the key question is who takes over command of a now Central European dominant Germany? Best (relatively) case might be Martin Bormann and his Anglophile leanings, but there's a nasty nest of vipers as contenders.
        Heinrich Himmler.


        • #5
          Himmler might have as much trouble surviving as Beria after Stalin.

          And given nazi backstabbing battle for control of the SS between Himmler and Heydrich would be "interesting." Perhaps a question of who would whack who.


          • #6
            The first person I would see to take over would be Hermann Goering. Would he last long probably not.
            1.How small would Poland and Czechoslovakia be for the Western Powers to accept a settlement?
            2.Would Germany want The Versailles Treaty to be null and void? Since this is what caused the Nazis to take power?


            • #7
              I'd put money on Heydrich. Smarter & a bit more pragmatic than the average nazi. But, if the betting is broader than nazis then I'll go with the Army.

              Originally posted by Tuor View Post
              And if the British and French had a figleaf of "saving" Polish independence would the 1939 leaderships have refused a peace?
              Good question. They were a mixed lot & I'm not familar with which faction had the stronger hand in 1939-40. Chamberlain was somewhat spent and in any case now without illusion about the nature and trustworthyness of the nazi leaders. I would note how both the Brits & French were heavily investing in long range preperations for total destruction of the German military circa 1942. For some at least that speaks to seriousness of purpose not often probed in the common history books. As I pointed out earlier France had seen repeated German invasions in recent history and a portion of the French population were determined to destroy that problem.


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