Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

15 March 2014

The Oster Conspiracy of 1938 by Terry Parssinen [2002]

I was given this by a friend.  It's a really engrossing account of a plot to kill Hitler in 1938 that I had never heard of.  It therefore presages the more famous Von Stauffenberg assassination attempt on 20 July 1944, though interestingly, some of the same people were involved in both. In the backlash following the 1944 attempt would sweep up a lot of the earlier conspirators as well, including Hans Oster himself.

There are a few interesting points which stay with me:

1    The calibre of Oster and the men opposed to Hitler. What this book suggests is that among the German military elite there was significant distaste for Hitler and the fear that he was a lunatic.  The author contrasts this elite cadre of honourable intellectuals with the mass of the Volk who are in Hitler's thrall.

This is interesting  because of the questions it raises about war guilt and a the concept of the 'Good German'.  Like anyone who has visited Germany in the 20th century, I have been in beer halls and found myself looking across at the cuddly old grandfather and wondering 'what did you do?'  Even at the time I could appreciate that this is not a particularly healthy filter through which to view life and I am grateful for the fact that the passage of time has made it less relevant now. 

2    The parallels between Hitler's movement into Czechoslovakia via the Sudetenland and what is currently happening in Ukraine are striking.  When one reads Hitler's justification for the invasion it does not seem so different from the rhetoric coming out of Russia.  I appreciate that I am not the only person to have spotted this.

3    The author contends that the Oster plot failed because of Neville Chamberlain and appeasement.  The Munich Agreement in 1938 legalized the annexation of Czechoslovakia and this diplomatic coup by Hitler took the wind out of the conspirators' sails.  An example of the negative and unintended consequences of giving in to a bully.