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Operation Spark was the name given to a plan generated in the early 1940s by German anti-Nazis to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Another Operation Spark was conducted by the Red Army during the siege of Leningrad in 1943.

The name was coined by General Henning von Tresckow, who believed that only after a 'spark' (Hitler's death) would other wavering collaborators agree to launch an internal coup d'état to stop the war.

Collaborators

Planned Attempts

  • Bomb on Hitler's aircraft: On 13 March 1943, Colonel Henning von Tresckow and Lieutenant Fabian von Schlabrendorff planted a bomb on an aircraft that Hitler was to fly between his military headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia and Army Group Center Headquarters in Smolensk, USSR. The bomb was a simple one - triggered by a timer fuse, a bottle of acid would break and the acid eat through a wire that held back a hammer that would detonate the bomb. It was adapted from a captured silent British Plastic-C time bomb. They ensured that the bomb (in the shape of two bottles of Cointreau liqueur), was safely taken aboard Hitler's aircraft (A Lufthansa Focke-Wolfe 200 Condor) with Hitler in it. They also waited till the aircraft had flown. However, the bomb did not explode and Hitler arrived safely. Lt. Fabian von Schlabrendorff who retrieved the bombs found that the bomb had remained as it was. The fuse worked, the glass cover was broken, the acid cut down the wire, the little hammer hit the bomb, but the bomb didn't react. This may have been the one flaw in the British C bombs - they sometimes did not explode at low temperatures (as may have been on the flight).
  • Bomb At Museum: On 21 March 1943 Army Group Center organized a display of Russian Army flags seized at the Eastern Front. This was organized at a weapons museum in Berlin. Colonel Rudolph-Christoph von Gersdorff volunteered to be the human time bomb, and would embrace Hitler as the bombs exploded ensuring his and Hitler's deaths. He had with him bombs with ten-minute fuses, knowing that Hitler would be in the museum for 20 minutes. However, at the last minute just before Hitler was to appear, the duration of his stay was reduced to just eight minutes as a security precaution. Hitler breezed through in two minutes. As a result Gersdorff could not accomplish his mission, and the assassination plan failed again, but he barely managed to get out and defuse the bombs.
  • Winter Uniform Bomb: In December 1943, Captain Axel Freiherr von dem Bussche planned to assassinate Hitler by exploding a bomb placed inside a planned demonstration of a new winter uniform. As Fate would have it, the night before the scheduled demonstration, the train car in which the new uniforms had been stored took a direct hit from an Allied bombing raid.
  • Suicide Mission: On 11 March 1944, Captain Eberhard von Breitenbuch (another Tresckow recruit) volunteered to walk into Hitler's conference room and shoot the Führer at point blank range knowing that he himself would be killed by SS guards. But Breitenbuch never had his chance because, owing to a Führer directive issued the same day he planned to carry out his mission, officers of his rank were no longer allowed to attend Führer briefings.
  • Watertower Bomb: In yet another attempt two army conspirators smuggled a bomb into Hitler's Wolf's Lair and lowered it into a watertower. But the bomb mysteriously exploded a few weeks later jolting the SS guards. SS Chief Himmler immediately launched an inquiry into the incident which was deliberately blocked by Colonel Werner von Schrader - the investigative officer in charge and, as it turned out, a fellow conspirator.

Additional readings

  • Moorhouse, Roger, Killing Hitler, (2006), London, Jonathan Cape, ISBN 0-224-07121-1
  • Dulles, Allen W., Germany's Underground (1947), Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-313-20287-7
  • Galante, Pierre with Silianoff, Eugène. Operation Valkyrie: The German Generals' Plot against Hitler. Translated from the French by Mark Howson and Cary Ryan. (2002) New York: Cooper Square Press, ISBN 0-8154-1179-0
  • Dunn, Walter S. Jr. Heroes or Traitors: The German Replacement Army, the July Plot, and Adolf Hitler. (2003) Westport: Praeger Publishers, ISBN 0-275-97715-3







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