When the Second World War broke out, Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager, then 25-years-old, fought enthusiastically for Germany as a cavalry officer. But after discovering Nazi crimes, von Boeselager’s patriotism quickly turned to disgust, and he joined a group of conspirators who plotted to kill Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. In this elegant but unflinching memoir, von Boeselager gives voice to the spirit of the small but determined band of men who took a stand against the Third Reich in what culminating in the failed “Valkyrie” plot—one of the most fascinating near misses of twentieth-century history.
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|Title of History eBook: Valkyrie|
|Release Date: 01-05-2011|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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My brother Georg was born in August 1915, I in September 1917. We were the fourth and fifth in a family of nine children.
My family had settled in Heimerzheim, in the Rhineland, in 1910, leaving our old home in Bonn, which in the eighteenth century had been one of the residences of Prince-Archbishop Clemens August of Bavaria. With its network of canals and moats, its great central building—white, gabled, and flanked by corner towers—it stood on an island reached by a succession of bridges, like a summer palace in ancient China. Its immense grounds were left in a half-wild state where deer peacefully grazed and the familiar mixture of mystery and nature on the doorstep made Heimerzheim seem to us like a fairy-tale castle. Nothing was easier there than to retreat into a secret world. Imagination and children’s games could hardly have found a more propitious place to develop.
We had a liberal upbringing at Heimerzheim, something that always surprised the guests who passed through—and they were many, since our mother be-lieved that those who had the good fortune to live in a great residence should keep an open house. But for all that, our upbringing was not permissive. Life was very clearly structured, framed by a few strictly defined moral principles: for example, it was forbidden to torture animals. Within this framework, we enjoyed a great deal of latitude.
My father, Albert von Boeselager, was a cultured man of letters. His mother’s side of the family hailed from Brussels, and he considered the European nobility a unitary body. He hunted all over the Continent and spoke four or five languages.
Because of this, he attached pa...