Seventy-five years ago, a suitcase bomb nearly killed Hitler

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It’s been 75 years since Adolph Hitler sat down with his top military officers at his top-secret, Wolfe’s Lair military compound in Prussia to discuss strategy for winning World War II.

He had no clue that Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, one of his most trusted aides, had brought along a suitcase containing a bomb that he hoped would blow the Nazi dictator and his acolytes to smithereens.

That would have cleared the way for Germany to make peace with the allies — and save many thousands of lives.

But somebody had moved the suitcase close to a table. That deflected much of its explosive force.

Hitler lived another year — and Von Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters were executed within hours. The Gestapo later executed nearly nearly 5,000 others suspected plotters.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel used the anniversary on Saturday to applaud the courage and sacrifice of the conspirators, saying they should serve as an example to people today.

She urged Europeans to confront populism, nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism as she paid tribute to the Nazi resistance in her own country.

The plotters “put humanity over their own human lives,” she told the crowd at the site where von Stauffenberg and the other plotters were executed.

She also took the occasion to pay tribute to people who stood up against the Nazis in different ways, including those who hid Jews to save them from the death camps, the Jews who rose up in the Warsaw Ghetto to attack their Nazi captors in 1943, the Polish fighters of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and other partisans who fought against the German occupiers and others.

“Von Stauffenberg is a symbol of the resistance, but his story is not the only story of the resistance,” she said.

Amid evidence of rising anti-Semitism and racism in Germany, Merkel said people need to draw inspiration from those who resisted the Nazis and made their voices heard.

“Instead of looking away or being silent, we need to be engaged,” she said.

On a wider scale, she said Europeans need to speak out and act against nationalism and populism.

“We need to think multilaterally, not unilaterally; global, not national; open not isolationist; together, not alone,” she said to applause.

“Those are the tasks of today.”

With The Associated Press 

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