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The Bendlerblock seen from the Landwehrkanal
The courtyard in the Bendlerblock where the July 20 conspirators were executed
Statue in the Bendlerblock courtyard, in honor of the German Resistance

The Bendlerblock is a building in Berlin, located on the Stauffenbergsstraße (originally named the Bendlerstraße), south of the Tiergarten. The building was erected between 1911 and 1914 for the Imperial German Navy Offices. During the Weimar Republic it served as the seat of the Reichswehr command and the Ministry of Defence. Since 1993, the building complex has served as a secondary seat of the German Federal Ministry of Defense. It is also notable as the headquarter of the German officers who carried out the July 20 plot in 1944, some of whom were shot in the courtyard, and includes a memorial to the officers.

Contents

Origin of the name

The Stauffenbergstraße was originally named the Bendlerstraße from 1837 until July 20, 1955, the year that the West German Army, the Bundeswehr was established and organized. The Bendlerstraße bore the name of Johann Christoph Bendler (1789-1873), the Chief Mason and a member of the Berlin city council, hence the name Bendlerblock.

History

Execution site, 1944

Under the leadership of the Infantry General Friedrich Olbricht, the Bendlerblock was the focus of military resistance to the Nazi regime. It was here that Olbricht developed the "Valkyrie" operation plan into a plan for a coup d'état against Hitler. In October 1943 Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was transferred to the General Army Office as Chief of Staff. His position gave him direct access to situation briefings in Hitler's eastern headquarters, the "Wolf's Lair in East Prussia." On July 20, 1944 he set the fuse of a bomb there and returned to Berlin.

The bomb went off, but Hitler survived. When news of Hitler's survival spread, the conspirators were unable to take control of Germany. Following the arrest of the conspirators in the Bendlerblock, General Olbricht, Colonel von Stauffenberg, Werner von Haeften, and Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim, all members of the uprising, were executed by firing squad that same night in the courtyard of the building. A fifth plotter, Generaloberst Ludwig Beck, was allowed to shoot himself.

Battle of Berlin, 1945

During the Battle of Berlin in late April early May 1945, General Helmuth Weidling, commander of the Berlin Defense Area, used the Bendlerblock as his headquarters before he surrendered to the Soviets at 06:00 hours on May 2. [1]

Post-war era

The section of the Bendlerblock around the courtyard where Stauffenberg and the other conspirators were executed now houses the Memorial to the German Resistance. It is also used as one of the ceremonial sites where new members of the Wachbataillon of the Bundeswehr (German military's drill unit) take their oaths.

Use in filming

The Ministry tends to restrict access to the Bendlerblock due to its historical significance and lingering sensitivities about Germany's role in World War II. Filming permission was granted to a movie studio in 2003, but the Ministry of Defence was displeased with the result. The Ministry hesitated to grant permission for scenes of the Tom Cruise-led movie, Valkyrie, about the July 20 Plot, to be filmed there. However, permission was eventually granted, and filming was allowed. (The movie was primarily photographed in and around Berlin, with some African and other scenes filmed in California.) [2] Director Bryan Singer led the film crew in a minute of silence before filming began in honour of those who were executed on the site in 1944.[3]

References

  1. ^ Beevor, Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-670-88695-5 pp.358,388
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Tom Cruise Marks Disputed Filming With Moment of Silence". Deutsche Welle. September 24, 2007. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2795103,00.html. Retrieved November 8, 2007. "'Shortly before we started filming, screenplay writer Christopher McQuarrie, director Bryan Singer and Tom Cruise made short remarks and then asked for a minute of silence, out of respect for the place and out of respect for the life achievement of these people who were executed there,' German actor Christian Berkel, who plays fellow plotter Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, was quoted as saying in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper."  

External links

Coordinates: 52°30′25″N 13°21′41″E / 52.50694°N 13.36139°E / 52.50694; 13.36139








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