German defense minister calls anti-Hitler plotters a model for today’s military
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German defense minister calls anti-Hitler plotters a model for today’s military

76 years after Claus von Stauffenberg’s failed assassination attempt, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says right-wing soldiers who admire Nazi-era Wehrmacht have no place in German army

  • The file photo from July 1944 shows Hitler and Mussolini surveying the damage inside Hitler's Wolf's Lair (Wolfschanze) headquarters in East Prussia following an assassination attempt of high-ranking officers of the Wehrmacht against Hitler on July 20, 1944. A briefcase containing a bomb was placed by Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg under the table with maps where Hitler was confering with his staff officers. He was only slightly hurt. (AP Photo)
    The file photo from July 1944 shows Hitler and Mussolini surveying the damage inside Hitler's Wolf's Lair (Wolfschanze) headquarters in East Prussia following an assassination attempt of high-ranking officers of the Wehrmacht against Hitler on July 20, 1944. A briefcase containing a bomb was placed by Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg under the table with maps where Hitler was confering with his staff officers. He was only slightly hurt. (AP Photo)
  • Visitors stands in front of a poster during a press preview of the special exhibition 'The Fuehrer Adolf Hitler is dead - Attempted Assassination and coup d'etat on 20 July 1944.' by the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History in Dresden, Germany, Wednesday, July 3, 2019.  (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
    Visitors stands in front of a poster during a press preview of the special exhibition 'The Fuehrer Adolf Hitler is dead - Attempted Assassination and coup d'etat on 20 July 1944.' by the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History in Dresden, Germany, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
  • A steel girder with hooks photographed in the former execution room at Ploetzensee prison in Berlin Tuesday, July 20, 2010. On July 20 Germany honors Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg and other high-ranking aristocratic soldiers were executed in Berlin after the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler  survived the July 20, 1944 briefcase bomb placed by Stauffenberg. Stauffenberg was executed in the Nazi army headquarters in Berlin, scores of others were executed in Berlin's Ploetzensee prison, where the Nazis hanged them on meat hooks. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    A steel girder with hooks photographed in the former execution room at Ploetzensee prison in Berlin Tuesday, July 20, 2010. On July 20 Germany honors Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg and other high-ranking aristocratic soldiers were executed in Berlin after the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler survived the July 20, 1944 briefcase bomb placed by Stauffenberg. Stauffenberg was executed in the Nazi army headquarters in Berlin, scores of others were executed in Berlin's Ploetzensee prison, where the Nazis hanged them on meat hooks. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, German Minister of Defense, delivers her speech at the Ploetzense Lake Memorial in memory of those murdered in the resistance against the Nazis in Berlin, Germany, Monday, July 20, 2020. The day commemorates the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. (Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP)
    Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, German Minister of Defense, delivers her speech at the Ploetzense Lake Memorial in memory of those murdered in the resistance against the Nazis in Berlin, Germany, Monday, July 20, 2020. The day commemorates the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. (Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP)
  • Numerous wreaths and flower arrangements have been laid in the Bendlerblock at the German Resistance Memorial Center on the spot where Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg and other officers were shot in 1944 after the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, in Berlin, Germany, Monday, July 20, 2020. (Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP)
    Numerous wreaths and flower arrangements have been laid in the Bendlerblock at the German Resistance Memorial Center on the spot where Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg and other officers were shot in 1944 after the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, in Berlin, Germany, Monday, July 20, 2020. (Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Faced with growing concern over right-wing extremism in Germany’s military, the country’s defense minister on Monday marked the anniversary of a failed plot to kill Adolf Hitler by urging today’s soldiers to take their inspiration from those who tried to assassinate the Nazi dictator.

Speaking at a ceremony in Berlin swearing in new recruits on the 76th anniversary of the July 20, 1944, plot, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said right-wing soldiers who admire the Nazi-era Wehrmacht military have no place in today’s military.

“The simple Wehrmacht soldier may have fought bravely, but if his bravery served an ideology of conquest, occupation and annihilation, then it was for nothing,” she said, the dpa news agency reported. “I very well recognize the individual tragedy that lies in this truth.”

Earlier this month, Kramp-Karrenbauer disbanded a company of special forces, saying a culture of right-wing extremism had been allowed to develop through “toxic leadership.” The move came at a time of broader concerns that Germany has not done enough to tackle right-wing extremism within its Bundeswehr military in general.

Undated file picture of Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, the aristocratic officer executed for trying to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. (AP Photo/File)

Germany on Monday paid tribute to July 20 plot leader Col. Claus von Stauffenberg and others who were captured and executed in the failed attempt to kill Hitler.

“The only role models the Bundeswehr can take from this time are those who tried to turn things around, like the resistance fighters of July 20,” she told the recruits.

Von Stauffenberg tried to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb during a meeting at his headquarters in what was then East Prussia. Hitler escaped the full force of the blast when someone moved the briefcase next to a table leg, deflecting much of the explosive force. The plot crumbled when news spread that Hitler had survived. Von Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters were executed within hours.

In a separate ceremony at a memorial established at the capital’s former Ploetzensee prison, where the Nazis executed thousands of people, primarily opposition members, Kramp-Karrenbauer said the legacy of the July 20 plotters had “enabled us to return to the community of other states” and was now woven into German foreign and security policy.

A steel girder with hooks photographed in the former execution room at Ploetzensee prison in Berlin Tuesday, July 20, 2010. On July 20 Germany honors Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg and other high-ranking aristocratic soldiers were executed in Berlin after the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler survived the July 20, 1944 briefcase bomb placed by Stauffenberg. Stauffenberg was executed in the Nazi army headquarters in Berlin, scores of others were executed in Berlin’s Ploetzensee prison, where the Nazis hanged them on meat hooks. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

“We will never forget, we will always have the courage to live democracy, we will protect the law,” she said. “We will give strength to peace, freedom and humanity, also internationally. Today, here and now, we renew and reaffirm this promise in memory of the men and women of July 20.”

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