Андрей Илларионов (aillarionov) wrote,
Андрей Илларионов
aillarionov

‘You must do it’

When the plan was proposed by Stauffenberg, Kleist asked for a day to consult his father on the family estate in Pomerania (now part of Poland). “My thinking was that parents love their children, so I would ask my father, and he would surely say: ‘Don’t do it’.”


But he had underestimated the old man, a passionate monarchist and anti-Nazi. “The answer came in seconds: ‘You must do it,’ he said. ‘If you refuse at a moment like this, you will never be happy again in your lifetime’.”


Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, plotter against Hitler

By Quentin Peel

Anti-Nazi and founder of elite security forum 1922-2013


Though hailed as the last survivor of the group of conspirators who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20 1944, Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist might have achieved far greater fame if an earlier plot had succeeded.


The previous year, as a 21-year-old lieutenant in the German army from a deeply conservative Prussian aristocratic family, he undertook to wear a suicide vest underneath the army uniform he was to model for the Führer. He was supposed to detonate the explosives when Hitler stood in front of him.

In the event, the parade did not take place. But Kleist, who has died in Munich aged 90, was again willing to lay down his life by being part of the 1944 assassination attempt led by Claus von Stauffenberg. The plan behind the detonation of a bomb in the Wolf’s Lair, the East Prussian military headquarters (Hitler was saved from serious injury by a table leg), has become an essential part of Germany’s postwar national narrative.


“It showed that at least there was a group that took action, and took it upon themselves to try to ensure that things could not go on,” says Gebhardt von Moltke, former ambassador to the UK. “It is always said it was too little, too late, but at least they tried.”


Kleist was one of the very few plotters who survived interrogation and imprisonment. Almost 5,000 were executed after July 20, including his father Ewald.

His enduring accomplishment came later. After launching a publishing company specialising in defence, in 1963 he founded the Munich Wehrkunde, named after his magazine, as a conference for US and European politicians to discuss security. By attracting top-level American participants such as Henry Kissinger, who went on to become secretary of state, and Edward Teller, “father of the hydrogen bomb”, as well as leading senators, he succeeded in turning the event into an exclusive annual debate for which invitations were eagerly sought. Now called the Munich Security Conference, it has expanded well beyond Nato, although the core remains firmly Atlanticist.

Kleist’s reputation as a member of the anti-Nazi resistance undoubtedly helped gain credibility for his conference, especially in the US. But he always admitted that he was not an instant hero during the war.


He hesitated before accepting the 1943 suicide mission. “When you are young, you don’t want to die,” he said in an interview shortly before his 90th birthday. When the plan was proposed by Stauffenberg, Kleist asked for a day to consult his father on the family estate in Pomerania (now part of Poland). “My thinking was that parents love their children, so I would ask my father, and he would surely say: ‘Don’t do it’.”


But he had underestimated the old man, a passionate monarchist and anti-Nazi. “The answer came in seconds: ‘You must do it,’ he said. ‘If you refuse at a moment like this, you will never be happy again in your lifetime’.”


Born on July 10 1922, Kleist was a member of Infantry Regiment 9, descended from the 1st Prussian Regiment of Foot Guards. Graf Neun (“Count Nine”), as it was known because of its many titled officers, contained no fewer than 19 resistance plotters in its upper ranks.


His 1944 role was modest. Charged with helping to disarm pro-Hitler forces in Berlin, he was arrested as soon as it became clear the Führer had not died. Imprisoned and interrogated, he was then surprisingly released that December. He speculated later that the Gestapo hoped he would lead them to other plotters who had not been identified.

Kleist is survived by his wife Gundula, a son and a daughter. In 1998 he handed over the running of the security conference, which as a result of being an initially intimate event had won a reputation as a forum for outspoken views, even though the debates were in public.


It was the scene in 2003 of an extraordinary confrontation between Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, and Joschka Fischer, when the German foreign minister declared “I am not convinced” about the US arguments for waging war on Iraq.


In 2007, Vladimir Putin was the first Russian leader to attend. He used the occasion to launch a furious attack on US foreign policy, to the organisers’ acute embarrassment.

An unashamed conservative, Kleist nonetheless ensured that Social Democrats were present, although while he was in charge he never invited members of the pacifist Green party such as Mr Fischer.


Kleist, whose family traced its roots back to 1289, always paid tribute to the views of his parents in convincing him that the Hitler regime was evil. Both parents and grandparents, he said, “possessed above all a clear moral compass”. What made him act was experiencing the bombing raids on Berlin. “I saw the misery, the deaths – and it moved me to do something about it.”

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/bbab6f4e-8c10-11e2-b001-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2NsfJfSSp

Tags: люди, тоталитаризм, этика
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