I'm writing this review simply because no one else has, and this story deserves to be known. I pretend to no special expertise on Germany or the Holocaust. I read this book in the early 1980's, and recite my recollection now without having reread it, except for a few parts.
In general, I was surprised at the source of the strongest resistance -- the German military -- and then at the range and simple number of attempts on Hitler's life. From 1938 forward, so it seems, the military was actively conspiring to kill Hitler, almost without let up.
Their foremost concern was, not surprisingly, that Hitler was going to get them into another war that they knew would destroy Germany. Their motivation later in the war and their tactics were in some cases mixed -- they desperately tried to cut a separate peace with the West that would allow them to continue the war with Russia(The Americans wouldn't discuss the topic on those terms, apparently out of fear that rumors would get back to Stalin and he would, like the Russian leaders of 1917, cut their own deal with Germany and withdraw from the war).
Reading this story is not easy; the text is turgid and requires something on the order of a muscular effort to plod on thru. Nonetheless, the effort is worth it if frustrating in other ways. Among the frustrating and recurring patterns are the number of instances in which German officers entered a meeting with Hitler and, perhaps only because they were seated at a less than perfect angle in relation to him, chose to hold off attempting the assassination for fear of failure -- and an ensuing "hardening" of the target. We know from Albert Speer's books that the post 20 July 44 bunker was in fact hardened; all officers were searched on entering. Nonetheless, the effect on the reader is to shout at the book: "Pull the trigger, you fool!"
The other frustrating fact is the simply incredible luck Hitler enjoyed. One effort to kill him consisted of placing a bomb with a chemical trigger on his plane. It was mid-Winter and, as the plane climbed in altitude, the chemical process slowed down with the declining temperature. In fact it froze. Only after landing and Hitler was safely away did the poor bastards refueling his plane take the full brunt of the explosion. One pounds one's head. The lucky GD stiff.
But the real reason to read the book is to get the details of Claus Von Stauffenberg's efforts, culminating on 20 July 44, the famous briefcase that exploded and injured but did not kill Hitler. Stauffenberg himself stopped two prior efforts to kill Hitler with a bomb because Himmler, whom all of the military feared, was not present; the idea was to take them all out at once.
But as news of the plot started to leak out, Stauffenberg realized he needed to act, and he did. His courage and determination -- he lacked one hand and had only three fingers on the other -- override all obstacles, again save for Hitler's spectacular luck. Ten million people died in the next twelve months of the war, so this was not simply a question of when the war ended. And the failure has got to be considered enormous from that point of view.
Stauffenberg's efforts did succeed, in one respect, which will strike some as inadequate and others as important. He showed that even in the darkest moment of Hitler's terror, there were persons of conscience willing to pay for their principles with their life, and that there were Germans who knew of the debacle that had befallen their country -- and the world -- and that they as Germans would do whatever was possible to end it.
"Long live Holy Germany" Stauffenberg said in the face of his firing squad. I am told that the memorial in Germany to Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators is a simple marble block with the date -- 20 July 1944 -- inscribed. Much much more is told here of his actions, and should be told and retold again and again.