kill Hitler

British Sniper attack plan to kill Hitler

In 1944 the British submitted a full plan to kill Hitler during one of his routine, solitary walks. It was never carried out because he was such a poor strategist, they realised his replacement would do a better job of defending from the Allies.

Ultimately a sniper attack was considered to be the method most likely to succeed. In Summer 1944, a German who had been part of Hitler’s personal guard at the Berghof had been taken prisoner in Normandy. He revealed that at the Berghof, Hitler always took a 20-minute morning walk at around the same time (after 10:00). Hitler liked to be left alone during this walk, leaving him unprotected near some woods, where he was out of sight of sentry posts. When Hitler was at the Berghof, a Nazi flag visible from a cafe in the nearby town was flown.

The basic plan was to assassinate Hitler during his morning exercise, as he walked unprotected to the tea-house in the Berghof compound. The scheme called for the SOE to parachute a German-speaking Pole and a British sniper into the area surrounding the compound, wearing German army uniforms. A sniper was recruited and briefed, and the plan was submitted. The sniper practiced by firing at moving dummy targets with an accurized Kar 98k, the standard rifle of the Wehrmacht, under conditions which simulated the actual assassination. Additionally, a 9mm parabellum Luger pistol fitted with a British-made suppressor was provided, so the sniper could quietly deal with any problems during their approach to the target. The suppressed Luger is now on display at the Combined Military Services Museum in Maldon, Essex.[1]

An “inside man” was also recruited: vehemently anti-Nazi Heidentaler, the uncle of a captured soldier, Dieser, lived in Salzburg, 20 kilometres from the Berghof. He, with like-minded shopkeepers, regularly visited a shooting range 16 km from the Berghof.

There had been some resistance to the assassination plan, particularly from the deputy head of SOE’s German Directorate, Lt Col Ronald Thornley. However, his superior, SirGerald Templer, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill supported the plan. The two-man team was to be parachuted in and sheltered with Heidentaler, after which they could make the approach to the killing zone disguised as German mountain troops.

The plan was submitted in November 1944, but was never carried out because controversy remained over whether it was actually a good idea to kill Hitler: he was by then considered to be such a poor strategist that it was believed whoever replaced him would probably do a better job of fighting the allies. Thornley also argued that Germany was almost defeated and, if Hitler were assassinated, he would become a martyr to some Germans, and possibly give rise to a myth that Germany might have won if Hitler had survived. Since the idea was not only to defeat Germany but to destroy Nazism in general, that would have been a highly undesirable development. However, there were strong advocates on both sides, and the plan never became operational simply because no actual decision was reached. In any case, Hitler left the Berghof for the last time on 14 July 1944, never to return, and committed suicide in Berlin on 30 April 1945, a few days before the war in Europe ended.