The man whose bomb almost killed Hitler in 1939

Chris Bowlby writes: A new film released in Germany this month highlights one of the great “what ifs” of history. It’s the story of Georg Elser – a 36-year-old carpenter from a small town in southern Germany – who came very close to assassinating Adolf Hitler in the early days of World War Two.

On 8 November 1939, Hitler was making his annual speech at a Munich beer hall. The event commemorated early Nazi struggles in the 1920s. This time Hitler used it to mock his international enemies, and boast about Germany’s successful start to the war.

But what neither Hitler nor the Nazi top brass and loyal audience realised was that, a few feet away from where the Fuehrer was standing, a bomb was about to go off .

Its ticking timers carefully muffled in cork casing, it had been assembled and planted secretly over many weeks by Georg Elser. He had started making his plans the previous year, after deciding that, under Hitler, “war was unavoidable”.

Hitler began this speech at the same time every year, but on this occasion, eager to return to Berlin and his military planners, the Fuehrer left early.

Thirteen minutes later, the bomb exploded, causing eight deaths and massive damage. The ceiling collapsed just above where Hitler had been standing. [Continue reading…]

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