On this day in 1945: In memoriam Georg Elser

At this time of day, 11 pm, seventy years ago, on April 9, 1945, Georg Elser was executed by the Nazis at the KZ (concentration camp) at Dachau near Munich.

His attempt to kill Adolf Hitler in the Bavarian capital about five and a half years earlier had failed. Elser had planted a bomb into a column at the Bürgerbräukeller (a beer cellar) where Hitler held a speech on the evening of November 8, 1939, on the occasion of the Nazis celebrating their botched putsch attempt ("national revolution", later dubbed "Beer Hall Putsch") of 1923. Unfortunately for Elser and in a fateful evil twist of world history, Hitler left the locality earlier than foreseen, and the bomb detonated thirteen minutes after his departure, without killing any of the Nazi leaders who had been present.

Georg Elser (born January 4, 1903 - died April 9, 1945)

Already on the same evening, Elser was caught at the Swiss border, arrested and held at KZ Dachau, where the Nazis planned he should remain until a show trial after the German "Endsieg" (final victory) in WWII would be held against him. But when faced with the Allied troops' advance onto German territory in early 1945, Hitler ordered Elser's execution on April 9th.

Until recently, the proletarian carpenter from the town of Königsbrunn, near Ulm, Württemberg, Southwest Germany, who wanted to kill Hitler to "improve the situation of the workers and to end the war" (quote Elser) was barely remembered and commemorated as a hero. To this day, he stands in the shadow of others in the official German narrative and practice of commemoration, such as those around the colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, who tried to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944, i.e. much later and out of much more nationalistic motives than Elser. July 20th, 1944, is a date every German and many others associate with resistance to Hitler, whereas Elser's attempt on November 8, 1939, has remained unknown to most, even within Germany, so far. Hopefully, this will change in the future.

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