Final Survivor of Plot to Kill Hitler Dead at 90

Von Kleist was part of plan brought to big screen in 'Valkyrie'

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 13, 2013 1:26 AM CDT

(Newser) – A former German army lieutenant has died 69 years after he volunteered to wear a suicide vest to kill Adolf Hitler. The first plot involving Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist failed to come to pass but months later he played a key role in a plot to kill Hitler and was the final survivor of the group of plotters, the AP reports. Von Kleist, who was then 22, volunteered to carry a briefcase bomb with explosives to a July 20, 1944, meeting with Hitler, but mastermind Col. Claus von Stauffenberg decided to do it himself. Von Stauffenberg placed the bomb in a conference room at Hitler's East Prussian headquarters, but Hitler escaped the full force of the blast when someone moved the briefcase next to a table leg, deflecting much of the explosive force. Their attempt was brought to the big screen in 2008 in Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise as von Stauffenberg.

Von Kleist's father, who had been an opponent of Hitler's since well before the war, was among the many people executed after the failed plot. Von Kleist was able to conceal his involvement, but was sent to a concentration camp before being released to return to the frontline. After the war, von Kleist recalled how his father had paused only briefly before giving his blessing to the suicide mission. "Fathers love their sons and mine certainly did, and I had been quite sure he would say no," von Kleist recalled. "But, as always, I had underestimated him." Click to read more about von Kleist.

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist is seen in Munich, Germany, 1978.
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist is seen in Munich, Germany, 1978.   (AP Photo/dpa, Hartmut Reeh)
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist walks in Berlin, Germany to attend a military ceremony in 2010.
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist walks in Berlin, Germany to attend a military ceremony in 2010.   (AP Photo/Henning Schacht, Pool, file)
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