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Thread: Interview with von Stauffenberg's son

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Interview with von Stauffenberg's son

    I came across an interview made in 21.10.05 with von Stauffenberg's son, Berthold von Stauffenberg in an Israeli newspaper called "Tel-Aviv", I would like to share it with you so here a translation that I made, I left out the bits that describe the assassination attempt as this was describe previously in the forum, sorry for any grammar and spelling mistakes.


    Behind the novel appearance of Graf Berthold von Stauffenberg and his wife, the countess Mathilda, that recruit every year millions of Euro for youth institute in Israel, hide a remarkable story: Berthold's father, Graf colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, was the leader of the 20th July plot that try to assassinate Hitler... the colonel was executed by firing squat, consider today a national hero in Germany, his son Berthold was then ten years old and he remember well the events of that day, the reporter of "Tel-Aviv" newspaper visited the country mansion and the von Stauffenberg couple, near Stuttgart and hear from Berthold and his wife on their commitment to the family tradition, on their need to composite on the horror of the Nazis and on the connection that feel toward Israel: "As Germans we have the special responsibility to held Israeli children, for me it's the most imported thing".

    Brthold von Stauffenberg remember well the day. he was only ten years old, and in 20th July 1944 spend a family vacation with his mother and three brothers, but something in the mood around him told that it's an unusual day. "There was a special fuss around us, we felt that something happening but we didn't know what it is." he said in the interview to "Tel-Aviv" newspaper in his German mansion.

    Later he found out the truth. in a late night hour he was horrified to hear in the radio the voice of Adolf Hitler mention his father name again and again, as the one who headed the attempted putch against him, and as the one who personally planted the bomb who killed three of his senior staff and injured him lightly.

    Why are you doing this [charity to Israel]?

    "I try to do the right thing. I taken upon myself many commitments and one of them is the help to Israel", then return to the question of the behavior of the German people in the days of the Nazi regime: "You need to remember that it's was a totalitarian regime. people afraid to put themselves in danger, and more than that they were afraid to risk there own families. you need to understand that it's was an act totally against the German tradition. to overthrow the head of state it's a thing that never been done before, certainly not be someone that is officially part of the state security forces. In general, people who didn't live in a dictatorship don't know what’s it's like.

    "We live in the city of Bemberg", he return 60 years back, to the day of the assassination, "but in this day we weren’t there, me my two brothers and my mother were in the resort site of the Dorasic (sp?) hills, about 100 KM from Stuttgart. Father was in the Wehrmacht and the last time that I saw him was two weeks before, when he came to his last visit".

    Your mother knew what going on?

    "She knew that something was about to happened, but didn't knew that exactly going to happened, of course to us, the children nobody said anything because it's was too much dangerous, but quickly enough we understand that there was an attempt of Hitler's life. we didn't know who it was yet, because they try to keep us away from the radio, but my mother quickly told us. she was updated fast by her younger brother, that receive the information on everything that happened. he knew almost all the details, although she didn't know my father personally planted the bomb. I was in total shock, mostly because my father, the man that I admire was executed in the same day."

    Berthold mother was arrested immediately, and so are many of the other family relatives. the three children stay in the resort house another four weeks with their nanny. in the end, a month after that, they were taken into a home, that housed the sons of other officers that were part of the putch attempt. "luckily for us we were under 15, because who was above that age was taken to a concentration camp, to his bitter end."

    The guards spoke with you?

    "No, they didn't told us anything. we were well taken care and we were isolated from the world. without radio and other communication means. we didn't really know what going on with us, we didn't went to school and we weren't allow to speak to anybody."

    How come they didn't executed you?

    "The truth is that Himmler suggested it later on in a private conversations with other SS officers but in reality we receive other names, we were told that we must not be called von Stauffenberg anymore, and we were suppose to relocated to a foster Nazi families. in the end we were taken away from the home and sent to a concentration camp in east Russia, however in that tine the Russians were getting close, we were quickly send back to Germany to the concentration camp Buchenwald, later to Dachau, and in the end to south Tyrol, were we remain until the Americans liberated us."

    Do you understand your father motives?

    "Father constantly criticize Hitler's war plans, but what that motivated him most in my opinion were the news that reached him in Ukraine, about the Jewish victims and the horrible mistreatment of them."

    Did you have the chance to talk to some of the people that were involved?

    "The truth is that I never spoke to anyone who were present during the assassination attempt, but after the war when I joined the army had a one chance. I was in the end of an officer course, and the one who give me my ranks was General Hovisinger (sp?), that was in the room when the bomb went off. he was a senior officer, I was of the lower ranks, and he told me that he knew my father personally, but I was too much embarrassed to talk him about it."

    How were you treated in post-WW Germany?

    "Some thought that we were traitors. they didn't say it openly but we felt it. many people thought it's was forbidden to an officer of the Wehrmacht, and let alone one in high position like father was, to do what he did. It's Germany not South America, in which putches are an ordinary things, here it's something highly unusual."

    They always ask what would have happened if Hitler was killed

    "Many people try to talk with me about that, but the truth is there is no answer to what could have happened, I don't suppose much would change, perhaps Germany surrender terms would have been different, perhaps it's would have helped to many Germans that the war would end sooner. there were people that said that we caused the downfall in Russia, others saw the act of my father a knife stab in the back of the German nation."

    "Not all the Germans were Nazis" said Berthold "but too much of them didn't care what’s was going around them. they pay lips tax and try to continue their life as usual. it's not that they truly know what was going on around them, the majority simply didn't want to ask. you have to remember that it's was a regime in which people did everything in order to survive. after the war they of course felt guilty and try to find reasons why they behave like they did. on this background many have to deal with a difficult inter conflict, when there children started to ask them hard questions, about why they behave the way they did"

    Berthold von Stauffenberg find himself after the war in a boarding school at Scotland, in the 1953 he return to Germany and married Mathilda. today the couple with plently of cash, travel in Europe stay only a few days a month in the family mansion in Germany...Berthold: "After the war there were plenty of people who said: 'let's put the past behind and concentrate in the rebuilding of Germany'. the most importand thing was to rebuild, nobody deal with the sins of the past"

    And today?

    "Today there is much more interest in the plot against Hitler than there was ten years ago, it's a shame, because ten years ago there were still live people who could shed light on the events".

    You have to understand von Stauffenberg is a myth in Germany, Claus Berthold's father consider a national hero. "You could talk about the legacy of my father many hours" said Berthold "I don't know if I could have done what he have done, but I try to walk the footsteps of the principles that guide him"

    His father didn't stay much at home, the children raised by his wife and Berthold tells of a happy family and of ideal couple. "they agree on everything that was between them" he remember "and this one of the basic things in family, I didn't spoke with my mother too much about father and all the things that happened but I was never in any doubts what kind a man he was, so there was never a reason to ask my mother about that".

    Did you meet children of other officers that took part in the abortive putch? did you interested in how they deal with it?

    "No, I was almost never in contact with children of other people, in the home that we were we meet other people that were suprise from what there fathers did. they were in a shock when they found out the size of the conspiracy. I think that my mother were also suprise from the fact that it's were her husband that planted the bomb".

    In your opinion did your father thought about what will happened to his family before he went to his mission?

    "I certain that he thought about us. in fact he even instructed my mother what she must do in a case he caught. he told her that she need to play the dumb wife that know nothing from this story and just busy raising her children, it's probably worked because the interrogators were sympathetic towards her. on the other hand perhaps it's was because she was pregnant with my sister".

    When did you understand that your father is a national hero?

    "Right after the war. I never thought of him as an individual but thought on the whole group together. it's was the tradition of the family who goes back into the German history, you could understand from it where my father bravery come, he serve his country in the best way he thought".

    After the 20th of July who couldn't return home" Berthold tells "the SS demolish our house and didn't left any memory of dad. but five years ago we find his sword, an honor sword giving to him by the German army. it's disappear together with the rest of his belonging, and suddenly it's appear five years ago, the chairman of the former Communist party in Germany called me one day and said he got it. it's unclear how the sword arrive to him, perhaps from the loot that the Russians take, but in the end I've got the sword".


    You could find the article at http://www.tam.co.il/21_10_2005/magazin1.htm and also some nice photos.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Wilts, England


    Thanks for translating, its an interesting read! :wink:

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