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OBITUARIES / Passings / Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager

Participant in plot to kill Hitler

May 03, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager, 90, thought to be the last surviving member of the inner circle of plotters who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944 with a briefcase bomb, died Thursday night, the German military command said. The cause and place of his death were not announced.

The assassination attempt was carried out by Col. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. Von Boeselager was part of a group of German military officers who joined the plot and supplied explosives for the operation.

On July 20, 1944, Von Stauffenberg placed the bomb in a conference room where Hitler was meeting with his aides and military advisors. The Nazi leader survived the blast when someone moved the briefcase next to a heavy table leg, deflecting much of the explosive force.

Von Stauffenberg and many of the plotters were quickly arrested and executed in revenge killings that saw some hanged by the neck with piano wire. Though many of those rounded up by Nazi officials were tortured to give up other conspirators, Von Boeselager's name was never divulged and he was never found out.

Still, he carried a cyanide capsule with him until the end of the war in case his secret was revealed.

The Von Stauffenberg plot is the basis for the upcoming Tom Cruise movie "Valkyrie," in which the actor plays the aristocratic colonel.

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