20 July Plot and Operation Valkyrie

This Saturday will be the 75th Anniversary of the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and implement Operation Valkyrie by German military leaders.  The assassination attempt was carried out by Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg at Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia. On July 20, 1944, Stauffenberg placed a bomb housed in a briefcase under the conference room table. Hitler survived after the blast was deflected by the conference room table leg. Stauffenberg would be executed in the courtyard of the Bendlerblock in Berlin shortly after midnight on July 21st.

The Still Picture Branch has a number of photographs related to plot, including two photographic series seized by the U.S. Army near the end of the war. The first, 242-PLOT, “Photographs Related to the Investigation of the Attempted Assassination of Adolf Hitler, ca. 1945 – ca. 1965 (National Archives Identifier 6002685) were taken or accumulated during the investigation conducted by the Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD. The photographs were in the custody of the War Department (later re-designated as the Department of the Army), Adjutant Generals Office, Departmental Records Branch, from the time they were captured in 1945 until they were transferred to the National Archives in 1962.

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The second series, 242-PA “Trial of the Defendants for the 20 July 1944 Attempt to Assassinate Hitler, 1944-1944” (National Archives Identifier 540204), was transferred from the Department of Justice, also 1962. It consists of photographs of court room scenes, including defendants arrested in the days and weeks following the assassination attempt, judges, attorneys, witnesses and spectators.

Local Identifier: 242-PA-6928/20, Robert Bernardis


Local Identifier: 242-PA-6926/6, Robert Bernardis, Erwin von Witzleben, Paul von Mase

In addition to the two series above, the following radiophoto can be found in the series, 208-AA “Photographs of the Allies and Axis, 1942-1945” (National Archives Identifier 535523). This series consists of approximately 100,000 photographs acquired from the U.S. Armed Forces, commercial sources or taken by OWI photographers.

Local Identifier: 208-AA-203-N-39902-PPA, Hitler and reportedly Mussolini examining bomb damage, Swedish News Picture Agency

One thought on “20 July Plot and Operation Valkyrie

  1. It’s definitely Mussolini with Hitler in the last photo. Mussolini was on his way to a meeting with Hitler well before the assassination attempt took place.

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