In July 1944, German military officers attempted a plot, called Valkyrie, to kill Adolf Hitler. The film “Valkyrie” paints these plotters as anti-Nazi heroes. But in reality the assassination and coup attempt was just a fight among fascists. The political leadership of the plot opposed the Nazi (National Socialist) Party and it’s military wing, the SS. But, for all intents and purposes, the Valkyrie plotters were Nazis who built the fascist regime much more than they ever harmed it.
The movie only hints at what the conspirators stood for when we see the political leadership of the conspiracy insisting they surrender to the West, end the war, and close the concentration camps. They aim to arrest all members of the Nazi party and the SS and stage a coup placing Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, identified only as an elected politician, as Chancellor of a post-Hitler Germany.
This leads viewers to believe that the plotters are anti-racist and were motivated to save millions being killed in war. However, the plotters’ urgency to kill Hitler and take control of Germany was spurred by Germany’s military losses in the war, anti-communism, and a different but no less racist vision of fascism.
The film focuses on Lieutenant Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg — a German military officer dissatisfied with Hitler and Nazi leadership and wounded by British airfire in Tunisia — who enters into an anti-Hitler conspiracy of the German high command.
Stauffenberg, an aristocrat born in his family’s castle, was impressed by Germany’s initial military successes. Participating in Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland, Stauffenberg wrote home that Jews and “mixed races” are “a people only comfortable under the lash” and would “serve our agriculture well.” Before the invasion Stauffenberg refused to participate in a ruling-class anti-Hitler movement unrelated to the Valkyrie plot.
After Germany’s massive military and political defeat in Stalingrad in February 1943 Stauffenberg changed his mind. He concluded that not assassinating Hitler would be a greater evil than having the communist Soviet Union occupy Germany.
In late 1943, Stauffenberg dictated demands to the Allies as conditions for post-Hitler peace. They included: retaining Germany’s pre-World War I eastern border (stripped by WW I ’s victors), keeping Austria and the Sudetenland (invaded by Germany early in WW II), and continuing to occupy territories east of Germany.
Goerdeler also generally supported the Nazi regime early on. He was mayor of Leipzig and served as Hitler’s Price Commissioner in the early and mid-1930s. In October 1935, almost four years before the invasion of Poland, Goerdeler sent Hitler a memo recommending decreased arms production, devaluing the currency, and opening up industry to foreign investment — essentially that Germany’s ruling class would benefit from allying with Western imperialists, instead of competing for supremacy.
Hitler’s economists disagreed and the Nazi leadership pressured Goerdeler to resign as mayor and blocked his employment in Krupp AG, Germany’s biggest company. While Goerdeler opposed some of Hitler’s militarist economic policies, he admitted his own policies would result in 2-2.5 million unemployed workers. Clearly, Goerdeler had no problem devising his own fascist plans.
After Goerdeler’s resignation in March 1937 he became Director of overseas sales at Robert Bosch GmbH, a major auto supplier that heavily profited off slave labor made possible by the Nazi regime. Goerdeler used his position to organize an anti-Hitler coup amongst the German ruling class.
As Germany’s armies faced certain defeat from the Soviets, Goerdeler contacted the British government several times to negotiate a post-Hitler peace. Like Stauffenberg, he insisted that Germany could not surrender to the communists and made similar demands of the Allies.
The most heroic spies and saboteurs among the German high command were communists and Soviet sympathizers who leaked intelligence to the Red Army and committed sabotage, helping communists kill 8 out of 10 Nazi troops in the war. Working-class Jews led rebellions in the Warsaw ghetto and at the Sobibor concentration camp. Many German workers housed Jews during the Holocaust. In every occupied territory the Nazis faced armed resistance, often led by communists. Our class has plenty of real heroes. The fascist plotters of Valkyrie are not among them.
We should not be fooled by the film to support any group of fascists and imperialists over another. Translate “Valkyrie” into the modern-day U.S. and you get more support for the liberal rulers who back Obama and the Democrats vs. Bush/McCain. However, both groups of U.S. rulers belong to the racist ruling class, just like the Valkyrie plotters and Hitler did. Instead, we should take inspiration from the Red Army that succeeded in smashing the Nazi war machine.