Military Review

Georg Elser. The man who nearly killed Hitler


Shortly after 9 pm on November 8, 1939, the Munich pub - "Bürgerbreukeller" - was cleared after one of Hitler's speeches. Earlier in the evening, about 3 loyal Nazis filled the hall, but now that Hitler is gone, the last veterans of the party, the "old fighters", packed up their belongings and said goodbye, leaving behind only the pub staff and a handful of musicians.

Then at exactly 9:20 pm, the pub was nearly destroyed by the explosion. In the blink of an eye, the main room was filled with smoke and dust, and a blast wave swept through the building, shattering windows and knocking out doors. The tables and chairs in the center of the room were split into matches; the central column was shattered and both the gallery and ceiling collapsed into the room. The platform and lectern, where Hitler had previously stood, were crushed.

One traumatized eyewitness recalled:

“There was a bright light, and at the same moment we heard a terrible explosion. I was thrown back two meters, falling into the rubble ... When I regained consciousness, I found myself lying on my stomach, putting my right hand on my friend's leg. I didn’t know then that he was already dead ”.

The deceased was one of three killed at once as a result of a terrible explosion; more than 60 people were injured, five were fatal. Those who were not too badly injured emerged from the rubble, bloodied and covered in dust, many believed they were victims of an air raid. However, one of them proved to be more discerning, concluding that the destruction was caused by a bomb designed to kill their Fuehrer.

“My God,” he sighed, “what animal brain could have conceived such an atrocity?

This "animal brain" belonged to Johann Georg Elser, a 36-year-old carpenter from Swabia in southwestern Germany. Small in stature, with unruly dark hair and a slightly anxious expression on his face, Elser, who grew up in rural poverty, was a carpenter's apprentice and earned his living by working in the woodworking industry.

However, unlike many of his comrades, Elser despised Hitler, blaming the Nazis - not the strict terms of the Versailles Treaty or the Jews - for his strained circumstances.

Yet, instead of succumbing to impotent rage, Elser decided to act. That fall, when war was looming during the Czechoslovak crisis, he decided that he would kill Hitler. Without telling anyone, he began to make plans, and after visiting Munich in 1938, while observing the Nazi ceremonies associated with the anniversary of the Beer Putsch of 1923, he saw this as a great opportunity to make his plans come true.

Armed with a specific purpose

Elser set to work.

At first he got a job on weapons a factory in his hometown where he stole a wick and some gunpowder. He then found another job in a nearby quarry, where he acquired explosives and a detonator. With no experience in such matters, he experimented by testing prototype bombs in the fields around his home.

In the spring of 1939, he returned to Munich, making detailed sketches of the Bürgerbräukeller Hall, where he planned to assassinate Hitler. He saw the perfect place for his bomb: behind the pulpit, where a thick stone pillar supported the upper gallery that ran along the entire hall. An explosion there, according to his calculations, would not only kill those in the immediate vicinity, but could also bring down the heavy balcony above.

For eight months, Elser did not tell anyone the truth about his activities. If they asked him what he was doing in his workshop, he answered simply: "invention." And when an intrigued colleague asked if his invention was an alarm clock that would ring and turn on the light at the same time, he answered evasively: "Yes, something like that."

In early August 1939, Elser finally moved to Munich, taking with him tools, a bomb, six clockwork mechanisms, detonators, wire, fuses and a battery.

He came to the Bürgerbräukeller every day around nine in the evening for supper. He later made his way upstairs, where he hid in a closet until the bar closed. Then he worked by torchlight to gouge a cavity in the column where he planned to place his bomb: every sound was muffled, every speck of brick collected. He could not afford to leave any trace of his presence. At 7:30 in the morning, when the bartenders returned, he escaped through the back door.

In the afternoon Elser worked on his timer and detonator. He planned to be safe in Switzerland by the time his bomb went off, so he needed to make a timer that could be set several days in advance. His solution was to change the clockwork by adding extra gears and levers to create a timer that could run for a maximum of 144 hours before activating a lever attached to the detonator.

On the night of November 2, two months after he got down to work in earnest, he finally planted his bomb in the convoy. Three nights later, he added a timer. It was supposed to explode at 9:20 pm on November 8 - right in the middle of Hitler's speech.

Narrow passage

Hitler arrived in Munich on the same day.

At first, he wanted to cancel his speech, given the hard work that awaited him in Berlin. He decided to attend the ceremony, but insisted that he must return to the capital that same evening. Hitler decided to return by train, which required a reduction in the traditional program of activities. Therefore, the appeal to the "old fighters" began earlier than usual and ended at nine in the evening.

It was the usual scenario. Hitler raged against the treachery of the British and the injustice of Versailles, driving himself into a theatrical frenzy and culminating in praise of the Nazi movement to restore German "honor." He ended up following the Sieg Heils choir and left the hall just after nine in the evening to catch the train to Berlin. Thirteen minutes later, a bomb exploded.

Having settled safely on the train, Hitler turned pale upon hearing of the explosion, and concluded that Providence had spared him for something more. His SS and police chief Heinrich Himmler, meanwhile, was already planning a round-up of suspects and the modernization of Hitler's security service.

Elser, of course, was far away.

He hoped to be in Switzerland by the time the bomb exploded, but did not count on the promptness of the German border guards, who detained him at the very border. When, during a search in his pockets, wires from fuses and a postcard from Bürgerbreukeller were found, he was handed over to the Gestapo for questioning.

He spent the next five and a half years in isolation from other prisoners in two concentration camps, and then was executed in April 1945 at Dachau.
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  1. Konnick
    Konnick 6 September 2021 18: 15
    What a pity, the story would be cleaner and there were no 50 million victims. Some 13 minutes and the world would have been saved from a terrible war ..
    1. Sergey M. Karasev
      Sergey M. Karasev 6 September 2021 18: 20
      So the war was already going on, albeit a "strange" one. Poland has already been eliminated.
      1. Glagol1
        Glagol1 6 September 2021 21: 58
        Poland is nonsense. But if the Fuhrer then played in the box, how it would go, it is not clear. On the one hand, there were enough other hawks, and on the other, many were smarter than the demoniac. Most likely it would have gone bang anyway.
    2. Valerikk
      Valerikk 6 September 2021 18: 24
      the world would be saved from a terrible war.

      Not a fact ... there would be another "Hitler"
    3. aybolyt678
      aybolyt678 6 September 2021 18: 53
      Quote: Konnick
      the world would be saved from a terrible war ..

      Hitler had someone to replace. There were enough psychos there. G. Himmler, J. Goebbels, G. Goering, R. Hess, M. Bormann
    4. anjey
      anjey 6 September 2021 19: 37
      The "Great Germany" project was launched, the comrades-in-arms would continue the "brown business", and the West helped behind the scenes to send it to the USSR as well.
    5. 210ox
      210ox 6 September 2021 19: 46
      The Nazi car had already been launched and it is quite possible that another Fuhrer would have come, more listening to his military leaders.
      1. Konnick
        Konnick 6 September 2021 20: 16
        The Nazi car had already been launched and it is quite possible that another Fuhrer would have come, more listening to his military leaders.

        There was no plan for Barbarossa yet.
        And they could have recognized Shelenberg's report on the capacity of the defense industry and the army of the Soviet Union, and not the underestimated data specially provided by the British agent, Admiral Canaris. Yes, and Guderian in his book "Attention, Tanks" gave accurate information about the tank forces. Hitler confessed to Guderian at a meeting on August 4, 41, that if he had believed this book about the number of tanks in the Red Army, he would not have started a war against the USSR.
    6. Prisoner
      Prisoner 6 September 2021 20: 34
      Unlikely. His place could be taken by the same Himmler or someone else from their company. They were needed and created. True, then the creators themselves and ofonareli from their Frankenstein. Only history teaches them nothing. For then they riveted the light version of Al Qaeda, received "gratitude", muddied the igil again with the same mess.
    7. Real Pilot
      Real Pilot 7 September 2021 01: 02
      And Georg Elser himself was caught out of stupidity! This saboteur was self-taught, without specialized training.

      Killers, for example, throw pistols right on the spot - this thing is definitely no longer needed in your pocket.
      And drug couriers often "pour" on the fact that drug addicts themselves: his goods are ideally packed by other people and well hidden, but he himself is "blissful", with a couple of doses in his pocket open. A search or a dog - that's all! Suspicious type ...
  2. Xlor
    Xlor 6 September 2021 18: 19
    Some two well-wishers gave him explosives. Apparently, the British. Schellenberg in his memoirs describes this well and in detail ...
    1. parusnik
      parusnik 6 September 2021 18: 42
      The question of the authenticity of Schellenberg's memoirs does not arise among historians, this has been proven. Another thing is how true the author himself is. In 1964, the historian Lothar Grumann discovered and published all the Gestapo interrogation protocols, and it was established that Elser had prepared and carried out the assassination attempt alone, without anyone's participation.
      1. anjey
        anjey 6 September 2021 19: 41
        I can’t believe in "alone", rather the Nazis themselves supervised to tighten the screws and tighten the repression, for some reason, the "Burning of the Reichstag" suggests these thoughts, a Nazi pattern can be traced, also with the flight of Hess, there are too many lonely psychos laughing
        1. parusnik
          parusnik 6 September 2021 20: 25
          Elser was not a nutcase, even the Nazis did not admit it. Van der Lubbe was indeed a pyromaniac, but besides that he was associated with the Nazis. In addition, some historians consider it proven that at the same time van der Lubbe entered the building through an underground tunnel, a squad of stormtroopers led by Karl Ernst, who spilled gasoline in the building and set it on fire. But Elser's connection with the Nazis has not been proven. He really was a loner. Hess was declared a nutcase, at the direction of Hitler. There is no consistency. too many lonely psychos
          1. anjey
            anjey 7 September 2021 05: 00
            I mean, the Nazi system - to find in advance the extreme in provocations and to blame him for the entire burden - is quite obvious, the rest is just details.
            The Yankees adopted her well, take Oswald who allegedly killed Kennedy, Ben Laden, who allegedly dropped the Twin Towers laughingThe mythical Baghdadi, allegedly the leader and creator of ISIS bullyThe Big Lie rules the World.
            1. parusnik
              parusnik 7 September 2021 05: 47
              Elser, not a decent person from your words. Do not judge others by yourself. hi
              1. anjey
                anjey 7 September 2021 05: 55
                If he were an ideological communist who avenged his murdered comrades, for his family in a concentration camp, then questions would not have arisen, but by that time, even the already defeated Communist Party of Germany, could not prepare such an act.
                1. parusnik
                  parusnik 7 September 2021 06: 00
                  It is clear, understandable, a scoundrel, a scoundrel ... it seems that you are ideological ... since you said that it is so, then I am not going to argue with ideological ones ... the opinion of the researchers does not count, the main thing is you decided ... Stay with yours, stay with yours .. Good luck.
                  1. anjey
                    anjey 7 September 2021 06: 09
                    I did not insult Elzer, unlike you laughing but the matter is not quite as simple as some historians have suggested.
                    1. parusnik
                      parusnik 7 September 2021 06: 13
                      Well, yes, yes ... I insulted him, bastard, scoundrel .. Are you satisfied with repentance? In general, I threw his guano in my comments .. See, repented, what else do you want?
    2. aybolyt678
      aybolyt678 6 September 2021 18: 55
      Quote: Xlor
      Some two well-wishers gave him explosives. Apparently, the British. Schellenberg in his memoirs describes this well and in detail ...

      No wonder they kept him for so long, they did not live in concentration camps for a long time. It's just that the diet was at best 700 calories, which is 1/3 of the daily requirement of a person.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 6 September 2021 18: 26
    Brevity, sister, author's talent. smile It was hoped that the author would continue his work on the bourgeois French revolution, but apparently it turned out to be beyond his power. About the situation of the blacks, the play is also not finished .. But on the topic .. Elser was treated relatively well: in 1941 he was placed in a separate cell, given a carpenter's workbench and even a zither (Elzer played this ancient instrument). They decided to keep him alive until the end of the war: after the victorious blitzkrieg, a show trial was planned for a man who dared to raise his hand against the leader of the nation. But the course of the war canceled out the plans of Nazi "justice". On April 5, 1945, Hitler instructed Gestapo chief Kaltenbrunner to secretly eliminate Elser. On the night of April 9, on the parade ground in front of the crematorium of the concentration camp where Elser was held, he was shot in the back of the head, his body was cremated.
  4. Sergey M. Karasev
    Sergey M. Karasev 6 September 2021 18: 32
    But the loner Elser has achieved no less results than Stauffenberg and So. And those and opportunities had much more. It just seems like the devil himself bewitched the mustachioed bastard.
    But Elser was also lucky if no one had ever noticed him in the bar. You need to have this talent in order to hide like this, and leave unnoticed in the morning. Just like a ninja hi .
    He then worked by torchlight to hollow out a cavity in the column.

    Why didn't he use an electric flashlight?
    And how could he not have thought of dumping unnecessary wires and a postcard! After all, there was a chance to be saved!
  5. Prisoner
    Prisoner 6 September 2021 20: 37
    It's strange somehow. Ciphered, made a bomb and did the same. Then he took it and pierced it with evidence in his pocket. what The explosive is of course no and seems to be rather weak on the head. Otherwise, why did he drag all this garbage with him, when he had a sea of ​​time to throw everything off?
  6. mark1
    mark1 6 September 2021 21: 26
    Slightly does not count
  7. Emmanuil Mayakovsky
    Emmanuil Mayakovsky 7 September 2021 13: 52
    you know .... I, too, once, almost became an astronaut!
  8. Emmanuil Mayakovsky
    Emmanuil Mayakovsky 22 September 2021 13: 49
    yes, that's exactly what happened, who will check? that's it, that's it!
  9. Dkuznecov
    Dkuznecov 7 October 2021 00: 32
    Let us recall the unforgettable Natasha Koroleva - "a little bit does not count" ...
  10. Yulian
    Yulian 14 November 2021 16: 10
    Is it possible to imagine that Tavarisch Stalin met with old comrades in arms from the Civil War in some restaurant?