BONN (Jul. 20)
Speaking at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of a failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl used the occasion to depict the attempt as a symbol of bravery for his country.
“The history of the present century has taught us that the decisive moral dividing line is not between left and right, but rather between decency and wickedness,” said Kohl.
Speaking in front of the wall where four German army officers were shot following the abortive assassination attempt on July 20, 1944, Kohl warned against choosing “the political extremes” to provide answers for the country’s future.
“Only if all of us will be united will those forces fail to bring the fatherland to destruction once again,” he said.
Ceremonies were held throughout Germany on Wednesday to mark the attempt by Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg and other high-ranking German officers to kill Hitler before he destroyed Germany.
Stauffenberg, the chief of staff at the General Army Office in Berlin, attended a meeting with Hitler at Hitler’s office and left a briefcase containing a time bomb under the table near Hitler’s feet. Stauffenberg then left the room.
The bomb exploded, but Hitler, protected by part of the table, was only slightly hurt. However, four other officials were killed.
Stauffenberg flew back to Berlin in an effort to put a planned coup into effect, but he and other ringleaders in the assassination attempt were captured by the SS and put before a firing squad the night of the attempt.
Hitler had more than 5,000 people arrested following the failed attempt on his life. According to historians, some 2,800 people were executed.