Mr Walters book concerning the 20 July 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler takes the reader through the history of various plots as early as 1938 and subsequent attempts to kill Hitler.
This thoroughly researched work centres on the life of Oberst (Colonel) Claus von Stauffenberg, the man who armed and placed the bomb under the table near Hitler at Wolf’s Lair. The influences on Stauffenberg and his extended family give colour to, and aid in an understanding of, the German aristocracy and intelligentsia of the early twentieth century, especially in relation to its connection with the military and attitudes towards the rise of National Socialism.
The book is fascinating reading. The wider subject matter leading to the eventual assassination attempt is made compelling by immersion in the unfolding involvement of Stauffenberg and his military colleagues. The book highlights the distinctions between the military class and the notorious SS, which for the uninitiated might have been thought to be one and the same.
One great attraction of this book is as a living history. Mr Walters has harnessed the ability of e-books to utilise the almost unlimited resources of photographs, maps, newsreels and historical footage to capture and better understand the events and ambience of the times. As a newcomer to this type of 'publishing' I was enthralled by it. The ability to watch actual footage of the participants at significant historical moments takes the reader into the history that they are reading.
The failure of the 20 July plot and the subsequent confusion in far-away Berlin, as to whether or not it had succeeded, highlights, on almost a minute by minute basis, as to how Operation Valkyrie almost, but never quite succeeded in placing the German military machine under the control of Army Officers rather than their political masters. Mr Walters’ graphic explanation of all the pieces of the jigsaw that needed to be moved into place for Valkyrie to have had any chance of success illustrates the intricacies of military command over large armies widely dispersed.
The immediate execution of some of the plotters on the early morning of 21 July and the subsequent 'show trials' and executions of so many more illustrates the high price paid by those who regarded themselves as patriots but who were judged by their country to be traitors. The film of scenes from some of the trials is a stark depiction of the failure of the rule of law as we understand it.
Excellently researched, written and presented I highly recommend this work to any student of the history of the Second World War.