Friday, April 05, 2013

Fullbore Friday

As those who follow what I am reading on the right side of the page, I am a catching up on someone I have considered a hero for most of my adult life once I found out who he was in my early 20s; Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I cannot recommend more highly to those interested in the Germans who tried to get rid of Hitler, the book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

In the course of my reading of the plots to kill Hitler, I heard of Bonheoffer in the context of those in the background supporting the uniformed Germans in the plot; he was so much more. I wish I had read about Bonheoffer earlier, and I intend to get the English translations of his theological work later this year.

One of the reason I found the plot so interesting as the more I learned of it, the more I found more of the lies that I was told growing up about all the brave "anti-fascists" of the Left and that, natuurlijk, the fasists were a bunch of right-wing Christian conservatives. What a load of BS I used to believe.

The Nazis were not "right wing" in our political context - fascism was all an outgrowth of socialism. The Left did nothing serious inside Germany to resist or eliminate Hitler, they either joined him, ran to the communists, or surrendered.

No, the only serious effort against Hitler was what in our political context would be considered the "right" side of the spectrum; the landed aristocracy, classical liberals, and relatively fundamentalist Christians both Protestant like Bonheoffer and Catholics.

Well, one of the last of them has now passed - a man I read about a few times. He served his nation well his entire life. He showed more bravery as a young man than legions do collectively their entire life. Like many of the plotters and patriots, he was a Prussian from Pomerania ... in lands that are now Polish. A life in many ways, all lost.

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist; congrats on a life well lived. Via The Economist;
NO ONE could doubt that, from head to toe, Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist was a military man. Generations of training, from the 12th century, had given him that straight Prussian spine and that cool, unswerving look. His ancestors, on the cold, undulating family estates on the Gulf of Riga and in Pomerania, had been Rittmeister, masters of cavalry. The good old days, it seemed to him, were when German men had been proud to wear their uniforms in the street. In person he was rarely off the defensive, civil but unexpansive, returning questions with a simple “You know the answer to that.”

In 1940, at 18, he abandoned his architectural studies and joined the Wehrmacht.
Amid the Russian snows as a very young company commander, Ewald-Heinrich found that he never got used to the deaths of his men. Increasingly, he wondered what they were dying for, in a war that was “pointless” and “wrong”. He was a proud German, devoted to the Fatherland, perhaps the more so because his family lands were so close to the edge that they were swallowed into post-war Latvia and Poland. But the words dulce et decorum est pro patria mori meant nothing to him now, when the state itself was murderous.

The one thing that seemed worth dying for was the erasing of Hitler from the scene. When Claus von Stauffenberg, leader of the anti-Nazi plotters, asked him to become a suicide-bomber early in 1944, he still hesitated, hoping that his father would object and save him. But his father paused for only a moment before he told him he must do it: “A man who doesn’t take such a chance will never again be happy in life.”

The path not taken

In the event, he never quite put his courage to the test. He agreed to wear two hand grenades under his uniform and to detonate them as he stood to attention before Hitler, but the Führer cancelled their meeting. Similarly, in the plot of July 20th 1944 to kill Hitler in the “Wolf’s Lair” in east Prussia, he agreed to carry the suitcase of explosives into the conference room but, in the end, was told to stay in Berlin. For a few hours, feeling history “bend on the edge of a knife”, he believed Hitler had been killed. In fact, he had survived. Five thousand were killed to avenge him; but Mr von Kleist, after brief imprisonment, was dismissed as a callow, apolitical soldier and sent to the front again. He was the last of the plotters to die, their youngest recruit.
He served his nation exceptionally well.
After the war he was left homeless when most of Pomerania was transferred to Poland and all Germans expelled. Kleist went into the publishing business, founding his own publishing house, the Ewald-von-Kleist-Verlag. He joined the Protestant Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg), to which his executed father had belonged, admitted as a Knight of Honour in 1957 and promoted to Knight of Justice in 1975.[6] In 1962, Kleist founded the Wehrkundetagung in Munich, later called, in English, the Munich Conference on Security Policy; he moderated it until 1998.
Of note, his father was also part of the plot and was executed one month prior to the end of the war.

That whole family is Fullbore.

Go to the 9-minute mark. It is a good and great thing that such a German patriot lived to see this scene on a day such as this.  Germany as he wished it was as a young man, that he now sees as he helped build.


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