Saturday, 24 January 2009

Valkyrie: Stauffenberg and the sacred Germany against the profane Germany...

"Es lebt unser heiliges Deutschland!"

"Long live our sacred Germany!"

These are reputedly the last words of 37-year-old Bavarian Catholic aristocrat and cavalry officer, Colonel Claus, Count Schenk von Stauffenberg, before he was summarily shot in the courtyard of German Army Headquarters in Bendlerstrasse, Berlin, for his attempt upon the life of murderous Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler.

Accurately, the film released yesterday in Britain, and titled Valkyrie, includes this memorable and dramatic scene, played well by American actor, Tom Cruise, as Colonel Count Stauffenberg.

The film is, in my humble view, an excellent portrayal of this true story of patriotic German officers, civilians, politicians, aristocrats and commoners alike, who opposed the Hitler regime and took courageous action to overthrow it from within, risking their lives so to do.

I have followed the Stauffenberg story for decades and got to know his son, Major-General Berthold von Stauffenberg, when he was German military attaché in London.

It is my belief that the film is an accurate portrayal, well handled and well presented. It is also a gripping story presented with all the excitement and drama that it so well deserves.

A clip from the film

Hollywood's homage to the men who risked - and lost - their lives in this courageous attempt is long overdue but now it has come and it will, I am sure, have a considerable impact on the way many cynical moderns view the story of Germany and its people who found themselves governed by a brutal tyranny.

Numerous famous actors play the parts of the key figures in the plot (from left standing) Carl Goerdeler, the Mayor of Leipzig, Stauffenberg, Colonel-General Ludwig Beck (who had resigned in 1938), Major-General Henning von Treskow, (seated) Colonel Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, Lieutenant-General Friedrich Olbricht and one other.

What was the "sacred" or "holy" Germany which Stauffenberg cried allegiance to?

Quite simply it was the holy empire which had placed Germany and Germans at the centre of a Christian, Catholic Europe for 1,000 years and which had built up, lead, governed, protected and enhanced European Christian civilisation for most of its history.

We are apt to forget this when we lump the thousands of years of German history into those very few short years when, after a period of anarchy, the political elite turned its back on the past and installed a new and diabolical ideology in place of the Christian past.

That ideology was a materialist, Socialist, racist, secular, anti-monarchist and anti-Catholic creed called National Socialism.

Goering surveys the bomb damage

As is crystal clear from his early autobiography, Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), its devilish leader hated all that was associated with the Catholic and Habsburg empire of the past whilst he - schizophrenically and contradictorily - claimed to be restoring the ancient, thousand-year old, empire of the past, albeit in a new and "modern" guise.

The real, thousand-year old, empire of the past was, in truth, the Holy Roman Empire, a Catholic, not a Socialist, empire sometimes called Das heilige römische Reich der deutschen Völker or "The Holy Roman Empire of the German People".

This empire was begun in what later became France by the Emperor Charlemagne, a Frank, a race of people who were ancestors of both French and German people.

Later the Empire was restored to glory by the Emperor Otto the Great and gradually became centred upon what is now Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy and parts of France, Poland, Ukraine and Hungary.

This Empire was Roman and Catholic. Its Emperor - successor to the Roman emperors of old - was the first Catholic layman of Christian Europe and recognised as such by all Christian countries and political leaders. This Empire and its rulers recognised their duty of allegiance to the Roman Pontiff as their spiritual superior.

And for this reason it was called "holy" or "sacred". It was titled Sacrum Romanum Imperium and recognised as such by all the popes who ever ruled.

This was the "sacred" or "holy" Germany to which Stauffenberg referred and which he had come to realise was - and must always be - implacably opposed to the dirty little Social Darwinist, secularist tyranny that Hitler and the National Socialists had imposed upon a once noble Germany.

Stauffenberg (left) with Colonel Albrecht, Ritter (Knight) Mertz von Quirnheim, a fellow army officer and co-conspirator in the 20 July 1944 plot against Hitler. He was shot with Stauffenberg outside Army HQ.

The decline and fall of religion in Germany, partly a by-product of the Protestant Reformation, had finally sapped all the life out of the true Germany and the vacuum had been filled with a legion of devils from Hell who inspired this new and grotesque National Socialist ideology, said to be based upon science but actually based upon the spurious findings of a entirely perverse, modern science, based upon Darwinism, among other ideas.

Many were opposed to Hitler - Social Democrats, liberals, Jews, Communists, Evangelicals, conservatives - but only one man summoned up the skill, courage, tenacity, perserverance and commanding personality to hatch a plan to deliver Germany and the world from the tyrant and, moreover, was willing to carry it out himself.

That man was Claus von Stauffenberg.

Stauffenberg with 2 of his children

He came from a noble family of a line 700 years old. That gave him a certain upbringing, education, moral formation and self-possession as well as a sense of responsibility arising from his family background.

His father was the last Oberhofmarschall of the Kingdom of Württemberg and Claus, from an early age, had had impressed upon him that his family heritage was not merely a social status but imposed a solemn duty to serve God, nation and conscience above self.

Interestingly, it was the aristocrats who really showed determination and courage to stand up to the tyrant.

Above all, however, let it not ever be forgotten what most went to make up the core beliefs of Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg and what was his source of strength, discernment and loyalty, as well as courage, and to which he turned for counsel before making his final decision to carry out his plans.

Before deciding to take part in the plot and lay the bomb, Stauffenberg went to confession.

It was his religion, first and foremost, that gave him the tools for reason, emotion and decisive action. His religion was one truly worthy of the name.

And that was because Colonel Claus, Count Schenk von Stauffenberg was a traditional Roman Catholic.

Banner of the Holy Roman Empire



Walter said...

glad you liked the film. i have't gotten out to see it yet (hard to do with a 15 month old) but i read somewhere that the force that drove his courage, his Catholic faith, is downplayed in the movie. what did you think?

Tribunus said...

Well, Stauffenberg's faith wasn't shoved in the face of the viewer but I think the subtle approach made it more effective.

He is seen praying in a Church before a huge crucifix which is, I think, pretty telling. And he is 3 times seen wearing a cross round his neck.

These "tasters" are, I think, more effective and invite the viewer to consider his beliefs rather more than if they were too overtly broadcast.

It is pretty clear where he and his co-conspirators are coming from.

Great film. Go and see it!

Ælfheah said...

Interesting piece!

One thing I can't believe Tribunus missed though is that the book the film is actually based on was written by a German Knight of Malta.

Tribunus said...

Crikey! You're right! Could be the subject of a post soon!

Anonymous said...

When it was announced that the Scientologist Tom Cruise was to play the role of the heroic (and, in my estimation, "Blessed") Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg in a Hollywood production, not only I, but people with every right to voice their opposition, such as the nephew of Count Claus, Count Berthold Schenk von Stauffenberg, expressed their gravest reservations, and were even prepared to boycott the film, when it appeared. The comments of Tribunus, whose opinion I highly respect, go a long way to mitigating my initial reaction. I still have my reservations, about the ideological(?) motivation, beyond the purely financial, of this production, despite the fact that it was obviously resourced on the basis of the soundest written accounts. While I venerate genuine heroism, I have a total horror of sensationalist exploitation by individuals who have a radically "other" agenda, and the American film industry falls squarely into that category.

Tribunus said...

Yes, I thought the same exactly and went along prepared to be deeply sceptical.

I was, in fact, very surprised and pleased with the end result, as you see.

It is even made subtly clear that Stauffenberg was a Catholic.

Amazing for Hollywood!

Anonymous said...

If perchance Tom Cruise were to renounce Scientology and submit in humility and penitence to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, might this count as a miracle of Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg towards his Beatification?

Anonymous said...

Stauffenberg was not the only man to attempt to kill Hitler. He's just the most famous. He should be remembered with honor for his heroism, but he is not the only German who resisted.

Tribunus said...

And your point, Anonymous, is what?

Anonymous said...

I know ppl hate to hear it but the plot was done out of pure self preservation. They all were going to be dead when the alliies took berlin and thought they were smart to negotiate after killing hitler. They wanted to better their own lives and rekindle their aristocratic rule over germany. Deal with it.

Tribunus said...

Yeah, right.

Never mind that they were all hanged by piano wire from butcher's hooks at Ploetzenzee prison, filmed by Hitler to gloat over later.

Yep. Real "self-preservation" that was, eh?

Whereas many of those aristocrats who did not take part in the plot survived the war and had their lands returned to them by the victorious Allies.

You are way off the truth, sunshine.

Deal with it.