taken from my blog
There is an assumption that all German were enemies of the Allied Forces during the Second World War. This is a falsehood, its called De-sensitization, and its what allows a soldier to kill another, who is only following orders just as he is.
The truth is that long before Hitler took office and began his war as a dictator many of the high ranking Military Officials had seen right through his promises, Promises which fooled a Nation that was undergoing terrible hardship, and terrible grief after the loss of the First World War. Promises of a brighter future, a Nationalist Future, inspired hope in the nation as they came from a man who, above all was gifted in public speaking. I think the warning signs were triggered when Adolf forced the entire Armed Service of Germany to pledge a specific oath to him.
The Film opens with a rendition of that oath. The main problem with this film is that it rumbles headlong into a long and converluted story without really explaining the positions of many leading Characters. Most of those involved in the Plots were Senior Military Figures...and I do mean SENIOR, for example, General Ludwig Beck, who prior to Adolfs arrival was Cheif of The General Staff. All these figures can be considered Nazi, however, there is a distinct difference between the Nazi Germany during Hitlers campaign, and Nazi Germany under Hitler. In the campaign it was about making promises of prospect. These Ideals were very much held by people like Beck. What you have to understand is that in the eyes of Ludwig, it was Hitler who had betrayed the Nation, it was Hitler who had strayed from what a Nazi was supposed to be. The film also portrays the resistance as saints, this is not historically accurate. For example, Ludwig Beck didnt mind invading The Check Republic, neither did he mind invading Austria, he just felt the timing on the latter was too soon. He might have been correct. He forsore a United Response from Europe which might not be quelled. He eventually stood down from office
Whilst the Germans were winning the war, Hitler was only subject to assasination attempts by citizens, and would-be spys. Each time, in at least 10 attempts, Hitler survived. If there was such a thing as the reverse of Divine Intervention...then Adolf Hitler had its protection. One such plot is shown in the film. Afew Officers decide to detonate a bomb on a plane, to kill Hitler...mysteriously the Bomb fails to detonate.
The German Army disliked Hitler for several reasons. Firstly Adolf prioritized the SS above them. The SS conducted things in a manner not befitting to an Officer as considered by the German Army Commanders who, whilst detesting Jews, probably wouldnt have rounded them up and executed them all. Secondly, the Early Nazi Party (pre Hitler) had banned people in the Armed Forces from Membership of the Political Party. This upset Ludwig Beck greatly, who would have considered himself a Nazi, even though until it was ammended, Officially he was not. None of this important History is mentioned in the film, or really even Hinted. Finally, it was the Army, not the SS who had to fight the war, it was they who suffered losses, and they who thought taking on Europe was risky, and they who knew by the time of the Wolfslair Plot, that Germany was losing the war. If they could preserve the Nazi Party and Germany, they had to make peace with Europe...and they couldnt do that whilst Hitler was incharge.
The other person who was key to the plot was Colonel Claus Von Stauffenburg. Now Stauffenburgs family have rejected Tom Cruise and his playing of the part, although I have to say I think he did exceptionally well. Stauffenburg was a Nazi who had morales and disliked the maltreatment of Jews. He was no saint however, and the danger with the movie is it makes him a Moralist, which in truth falls far from truth. Stauffenburg gets dissolutioned during his posting in Africa where he is hurt and spends time recouperating in hospital.
At this point the tide turns on Germany, The march through Russia ground to a hault, the lines were weak in Africa, and British Forces arrived back in France after being pushed into the Sea..and here is an important point. Beck was convinced that a properly executed war could have been won. Hitler had stood on the shores of France, and rather then take Britian...he'd gone after Russia...consequently he lost both. Hitler may have won the war Had Beck still been commanding Troops the day of Dunkirk.
And so Stauffenburg teamed up with Olbrecht, whose best thought of as the deputy incharge of homeland security. The plot went something like this. First, assasinate Hitler in his morning briefing in the Wolfslair in Prussia. Whilst that was happening call up the reservist Army. When its announced Hitler is dead blame it on the Nazi party (those specifically who are in Hitlers Cabinate) and use the Reservist Army to disarm the SS. Declaire Martial Law...bring back those Military leaders like Ludwig Beck, make peace with Europe, and end the War, preserving whats left of Germany and the true Nazi Party without Hitler.
It was a well thought out plan. Except for two things. Firstly Olbrecht did not call the reservists as planned. He waited until he knew Hitler was dead (or thought he knew) this meant that the Reservists were not securing the SS quickly enough, before 1) the SS defended itself and 2) Hitler was discovered still alive. Secondly, the Bomb didnt kill Hitler thanks to a Table Leg which protected the Dictator during the blast.
Consequently the obvious happens. As soon as its discovered Hitler is alive, the Reservists stand down, and the SS re-take control, leaving the culprits obvious. The name is Norse, Valkyrie being woman warriors of the Baltic, whose people were very Aryan. It had become the subject of an Opera by Wagner, Both Nietzsche and Hitler admired Wagner. Hitler used his music at the Funeral of his top opporater in Check when he was killed, and the protocol for securing Berlin in case of a coup or suspected destruction of Senior Nazi Politicians was thus labled after Wagners Opera. Nietzsche is often blamed for inspiring the Aryan race, but this is quite a fallacy. Fredrich does talk of "ubermensch" but it is not about a race of people, but a state of achieving a potential. Unfortunately Adolf Hitler did not interpret his writings the way the author intended...when he was inprisoned after the First World War and wrote his book "Meine Kampf"
There are little details that may or may not be fiction depending on the sources. The film depicts a secondary officer moving the briefcase to the table leg (thus excusing Shauffenburg from missplacing the device) There is a fascinating interaction between one of Hitlers Henchmen and the head of the Reservists, during which Hitler speaks to the Chief Reservist on the phone and convinces him to stand down the hearding of the SS. Little extras like that may, or may not be true depending on which sources you want to base your history on, and without being an expert in the procceedings, I can only tell you that the story has been given me both with, and without the details mentioned above.
What is certain, was the result. Hitler went on to have afternoon tea with his Italian Dictator friend, and more the 4K people were killed in the SS purge on the Armed Forces and Civil Service in Berlin. It goes without saying that both Ludwig Beck and Claus Von Stauffenburg were both executed for high treason.
Nine Months later the Allied Forces entered the same City, and Adolf Hitler finally heeded the advise of his late Military Commanders who had advised him against the war in the first place, and to make peace when Germany began losing. Those who had sought to save Germany and the Nazi party from Hitler, and were executed for their failed troubles...
Its worth seeing if you have nothing better to do, but I wouldnt watch it again. Not enough background is given, and whilst Cruise gives an excellent performance, I'm not convinced it was quite in keeping with his historical character.