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Valkyrie attempts

Janet Kuypers
10/14/19, on the 1944 date
of the suicide of Erwin Rommel

“In the absence of orders,
go find something and kill it.”
People have credited me
with those infamous words,
but in the art of war,
you have to make yourself

“How can you want to kill
something if you love it so?”

So if I love the Führer —
and I do —
how could I want him dead.
I opposed assassinating Hitler.
At least initially.

I may have been hopelessly
naïve to ask for one last chance
to end hostilities with Western
Allies, but my letter to him
took two weeks to arrive, after
17 July, when an Allied air attack
incapacitated me.

That wasn’t my way of exiting
their Valkyrie attempts 3 days
later, I had no idea their plans.
I believe they wanted my support,
but I could not give it, even if
I thought this was now a hopeless

But if I knew of the conspirators
and said nothing, if I did not
report them and have them all killed,
then I am a conspirator too,
just as guilty as the conspirator
who repeatedly called out my name
in a delirium...

Maybe I am as guilty as a
conspirator who, only after torture,
named me as a participant.
I did not know my name was on a list
as the potential Reich President
after Hitler’s upheaval. But if I knew
it was the end,

I would only look for ways
to help Germany survive.
If that meant I would take
the helm, then so be it.
But conspirator or not,
I never wanted to kill him.

But after they surveilled me,
I knew they wanted me killed,
but I think Hitler knew that his
“Court of Military Honour” was only
a drumhead court-martial that
everyone knew was fake. That I
was too high

up the military ladder to be
thought of as against the Nazis.
Executing me as a traitor would
ruin the morale of the front line,
so they came to me and offered
me three choices.

They told me I could, one, go to
Hitler himself and plead my case,
two, I could go through this trial
(that I knew would mean not only
my execution and disgrace, but also
that of my staff and family too),
or three,

I could take my ow life.
I think they all knew that by my
not choosing option one, this
ensured I was guilty, but how
could I plea my case when I didn’t
report or kill the conspirators

My family would have suffered
even before a trial began.
And I wanted my wife to live,
I wanted her to have money for
her life, and my family, without me,
and so I took option three, so that
after I died

I would be given military honors,
because really, I was a hero.
I was never involved in a plot,
I loved the Führer. After I’m gone,
burn my body, so there will be
no evidence of my true end,
your ultimatum.

I may be an absolute pessimist
when I face the slightest problem,
but I was a strong leader, and my
initiative stopped enemy forces —
I took them by surprise. What was
constant was my love for Germany.
Remember that.

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