Historical Accuracy of the Tom Cruise Movie Valkrye Thesis

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¶ … Accuracy of Movie "Valkyrie"

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Historical Accuracy of Movie "Valkyrie"

If I were awarding thumbs up for the historical accuracy of movies, I would give this movie two thumbs up (out of two). I was surprised at the accuracy of Valkyrie, given that it seems so many movies dramatize so much that the original story is somewhat lost. In my opinion, not so with Valkyrie. There are some inaccuracies, but mostly in things left out rather than purposely portrayed inaccurately.

The Actual Events

At approximately 12:30 P.M. On July 20, 1944, Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg excused himself from a military conference held by Adolf Hitler at his "Wolfsschanze" (Wolf's Lair) field operations center in Prussia. He proceeded to the restroom, produced a one kilogram block of plastic explosives from his briefcase, and crushed the pencil detonator with a pair of pliers. The detonator was a thin copper tube which contained acid. The acid, after von Stauffenberg crushed the tube, would take about ten minutes to eat through a wire holding back the firing pin from detonating the explosive.

He quickly put the explosives back in his briefcase when an aide summoned him back to the conference. He placed the briefcase under the massive conference table near Hitler and in the proximity of 20 other officers attending the conference. After about five minutes, he made an excuse and left the room.

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At exactly 12:40 the high-powered plastic explosives detonated, totally demolishing the conference table and the entire conference room. Several officers were killed. Hitler survived. The reason was that one of the officers in attendance had moved von Stauffenberg's briefcase to the other side of a heavy leg of the table because he kept nudging it with his foot. The leg of the table deflected the blast away from Hitler, who was only slightly injured.

By 12:30 A.M. The next morning, July 21, von Stauffenberg was executed by firing squad in Berlin along with several other German officers who had taken part in the plot.

Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg

Thesis on Historical Accuracy of the Tom Cruise Movie Valkrye Assignment

The Colonel was 36 years old when he died that night. At 19 he became an officer cadet, and attended the War Academy. He joined the General Staff in 1938 and served in combat in all of Germany's major battles and campaigns across Europe and Russia. He first became critical of the Nazi regime after seeing some of the atrocities committed by the SS, Security Police units, and the German Army (American-Israieli Cooperative Enterprise 2).

In particular the slaughter of Russian Jews, the brutal treatment of Russian POWs by the German Army, and murderous occupation of the Russian civilian population incited him, in 1942, to begin making comments and inferences to fellow German officers who held the same beliefs. It was then that he first had thoughts of overthrowing Hitler.

In 1943 while serving with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, von Stauffenberg was strafed by Allied fighter planes while riding in his vehicle and seriously injured. He lost his right hand, two fingers on his left hand and was blinded in his left eye. It was also that year that he joined a growing conspiracy to kill Hitler, and after several of the group's leaders were arrested, or sent to the Eastern Front, von Stauffenberg became the leader.

The July plot also involved several German officers taking control of Berlin and overthrowing the Nazi government while von Stauffenberg was responsible for killing Hitler, which he had announced he intended to do. On July 11, he concealed a bomb and brought it to Hitler's residence, but due to circumstances could not detonate it.

On July 15th, he flew to the Wolf's Lair, and though called off by his superiors in Berlin, made an attempt to blow it up with Hitler in it on that day. However, when he returned to the conference room, the session was over and Hitler was gone. Then, on July 20th, he got his third chance, and detonated the plastic explosives.

The Plot -- Prelude

A perhaps little known fact is that the term "Valkyrie" (Walkure) was, originally, neither the name of the plot to kill Hitler or the conspirators' plot to take over the government in Berlin as a result of Hitler's death. Valkyrie was actually the name of a plan contrived by Hitler for the Nazi government to continue upon civil insurrection or his own death. It was a plan adopted by the German conspirators to overthrow the government after they assassinated him.

Since 1938, elements of the German army had begun talking about the overthrow of Hitler's government. Many groups -- civilian, military, political, and intellectual -- were exchanging thoughts about how to do it. Plans had been developed in 1939 to overthrow Hitler to prevent him from launching a world war but, through indecisiveness, they were not carried out.

By 1941, a new conspiratorial group had formed under the leadership of Colonel Henning von Tresckow. In late 1942, von Tresckow and General Friedrich Olbricht formulated an overthrow plot and placed a bomb on Hitler's plane in March, 1943, which did not detonate.

They tried again a week later, but it failed also. After that they attempted to recruit more officers into the plot.

By the middle of 1943, Germany was losing the war. Von Tresckow and Olbricht, among others, including civilian allies were convinced that Hitler must be killed. They knew that when the western Allies punched through and the final defeat was at hand, Hitler must not be in power and a government more acceptable to the Allies had to be in place to extend an olive branch of peace and negotiate a separate treaty in order to stop the angry, violent, and retributional Soviet invasion of Germany. By August, 1943, Tresckow met von Stauffenberg, a conservative politically, zealously pro-German (the country, not the Nazis), and a Roman Catholic. Soon after that, as mentioned above, that Tresckow was sent to the Eastern Front and Stauffenberg, for all intents and purposes, became the leader. It was then that Hitler's Operation Valkyrie plan was seized upon and adopted to carry out the conspirator's plot.

After Operation Valkyrie Failed

After hearing the explosion and seeing the smoke and debris, von Stauffenberg assumed Hitler was dead and climbed into a staff car to the airport, where he flew to Berlin to assume charge of Operation Valkyrie. By the time he reached Berlin, another of the conspirators had phoned Berlin to let them know that Hitler had survived. However, that telephone transmission was garbled. Stauffenberg still claimed that Hitler was dead. The confusion caused by all this caused Operation Valkyrie to be delayed by indecision. In some locations, the plan went into effect and SS and German officers were arrested by the conspirators. In other places, nothing happened. The chaos remained until later that evening when Hitler was able to make phone calls.

As Hitler regained control, some of the conspirators turned against others. General Friedrich Fromm, Commander of the Reserve Army, which was going to be used to control Berlin, and one of the conspirators, in a desperate chance to save his own neck, ordered four of his fellow-conspirators, including von Stauffenberg court-martialled immediately and shot.

In the months that followed approximately 5000 people were arrested -- many not involved at all -- and 200 were executed (Kershaw 693). Hitler and the SS used the assassination attempt as an excuse to settle a lot of old grudges and failed plots against him to include many innocent people, including family and relatives of the conspirators. General Fromm was among those executed.

Comparison to the Movie "Valkyrie" (Cruise)

As I mentioned in the beginning, my opinion is that the movie followed the actual events carefully and with accuracy. Hitler's Secret Service had done a comprehensive investigation of the conspiracy and there were thousands of documents available to research the movie.

In actuality, Claus von Stauffenberg was a proud man. Some may have said he was arrogant. He was loyal to Germany -- not Hitler -- Germany. He loved his country. He served Hitler, and hoped that someone would rise up and destroy him before he destroyed the country von Stauffenberg loved so much. But, finally, he recognized that it was not going to happen and he knew he had to take action himself.

An intelligent and sophisticated man, he figured out how to use Hitler's Operation Valkyrie Plan against him. He truly became the ringleader of an already existent but somewhat failed conspiracy, and, finally, the only one so dedicated and so committed that he knew he had to end Hitler himself.

All of this is portrayed accurately in the film, Valkyrie, with Tom Cruise starring as Claus von Stauffenberg.

What is also portrayed with historic accuracy is the fact that, although von Stauffenberg could no longer stand the atrocities on Jews that the Nazis were committing, that was not really the reason… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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