David Frum

03.13.13

The Last Surviving Member of the Valkyrie Plot to Overthrow Hitler is Dead

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Jamie McFadden writes in that Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist died on Friday at his home in Munich, Germany. Mr. von Kleist was the last surviving member of the plot to kill Hitler known as "Valkryie". His New York Times obituary has the story of his decision to join the ill fated plot:

“I found it a very difficult decision, I must say,” Mr. von Kleist recalled in an interview for a 1992 documentary, “The Restless Conscience.”

He asked for a day to decide, and he traveled home from Berlin to talk with his father, Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin. His father had been arrested many times for resistance activity.

“The next morning, my father said, ‘Why are you here again?’ “ Mr. von Kleist recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I have difficult decisions I have to make.’ He said, ‘What is it?’ And I told him. And he said at once, ‘Yes, of course you have to do it,’ and I said, ‘Yes, but I have to blow up with the colonel.’

“He got up from his chair, went to the window, looked out of the window for a moment, and then he turned and said: ‘Yes, you have to do that. A man who doesn’t take such a chance will never be happy again in his life.’ ”

Lieutenant von Kleist agreed to go through with the plan, but Hitler canceled at the last moment — he frequently changed his schedule late in the war — and Colonel von Stauffenberg and others began devising a new plan.

May he rest in peace.