Accession Number:



July 20, 1944: Strategic Narrative for the Federal Republic of Germany and the Bundeswehr: A Critical Analysis.

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


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This monograph undertakes a study of the conspiracy of the German national conservative resistance, led by a small group of steadfast German officers against the Hitler regime and its effects on the establishment of the postwar Federal Republic of Germany. This conspiracy climaxed in the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944, and led to the physical destruction of the resistance circles. One of the central figures of the conspiracy was Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg. After the catastrophic defeat of the Third Reich, West Germany suffered from severe identity problems and was looking for a usable past. Based on historical and political research, the monograph provides evidence that postwar German authorities and elites used the myth of the failed plot, deliberately in order to generate a new narrative after the war. The purpose of the narrative was to submit the message of a new Germany towards the new Western allies, as well as to generate internal leverage regarding the German population concerning the foundation of the Bundeswehr. The narrative of July 20, 1944 is based on the historical framework of the German military resistance and a specifically-promoted ethical perspective towards the conspirators, which evolved after the war. The strategic significance of the new narrative is a result of political utilization. The positive spin of the 1944 conspiracy against Hitler became an integral part of the self-image of the other Germany, and provided external and internal legitimacy for the nascent West German state in the 1950s in a separated German nation and a constrained Cold War environment. Colonel von Stauffenberg and the heroes of July 20, 1944 served as valuable tools to establish ethically-based democratic credentials in deliberate contradiction to the socialist German Democratic Republic. Additionally, the Bundeswehr, as the new West German armed forces, received their ethical foundation and tradition from the July 20, 1944 conspiracy.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Government and Political Science

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]