Bendlerblock

The "Bendlerblock" is a building in Berlin, located in the "Stauffenbergstraße" (originally named 'Bendlerstrasse'), south of the "Tiergarten". It was erected between 1911 and 1914 for the Reich Navy Office. During the Weimar Republic it additionally served as the seat of the "Reichswehr" Command. Today, the building complex serves as secondary office of the German Federal Ministry of Defence, and is a major memorial place for the July 20 plot against Adolf Hitler.

Origin of the name

"Stauffenbergstraße" was originally named "Bendlerstraße" from 1837 until July 20, 1955, the year West Germany's army, the "Bundeswehr" was established. "Bendlerstraße" bears the name of Johann Christoph Bendler (* 1789; † 1873), Chief Mason and member of the Berlin city council, hence the name Bendlerblock.

History

Execution site, 1944

Under the leadership of the Infantry General Friedrich Olbricht, the center of the military resistance was formed in the Bendlerblock. It was here that Olbricht developed the "Valkyrie" operation plan into a plan for a coup d'état against Hitler.In October 1943 Colonel Stauffenberg was transferred to the General Army Office as Chief of Staff. His position gave him direct access to situation briefings in Hitler's headquarters, the "Wolf's Lair." On July 20, 1944 he set the fuse of a bomb there and returned to Berlin.

The bomb went off, but Hitler survived. When news of Hitler's survival spread, the conspirators were unable to take control of Germany. Following the arrest of the conspirators in the Bendlerblock, General Olbricht, Graf von Stauffenberg, Werner von Haeften and Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim, all members of the uprising, were executed that same night in the courtyard of the building, by firing squad. A fifth plotter, Generaloberst Ludwig Beck, was offered the option of shooting himself. After failing two times, he was shot by a sergeant.

Battle of Berlin, 1945

During the Battle of Berlin in late April early May 1945, General Helmuth Weidling, commander of the Berlin Defense Area, used the Bendlerblock as his headquarters before he surrendered to the Soviets at 06:00 hours on May 2. Beevor, "Berlin: The Downfall 1945", Penguin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-670-88695-5 pp.358,388]

Post-war era

The section of the Bendlerblock around the courtyard where Stauffenberg and the other conspirators were executed now houses the Memorial to the German Resistance. It is also used as one of the ceremonial sites where new members of the Bundeswehr (German military) take their oaths.

Use in filming

The Ministry tends to restrict access to the Bendlerblock due to its historical significance and lingering sensitivities about Germany's role in World War II. Filming permission was granted to a movie studio in 2003, but the Ministry of Defence was displeased with the result. Nevertheless, in September 2007, after officials met with director Bryan Singer and his staff, the Ministry hesitated to grant permission for scenes of the Tom Cruise movie "Valkyrie", about the July 20 Plot, to be filmed there, due to Tom Cruise's status as a Scientology member.

External links

* [http://www.bmvg.de/portal/a/bmvg/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLd4k3cTcHSUGYxvqR6GJu5gixoNQ8fW99X4_83FT9AP2C3NCIckdHRQCs3f1L/delta/base64xml/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS80SVVFLzZfRF80R1M!?yw_contentURL=/C1256F1200608B1B/N264WQZ6945MMISEN/content.jsp Bendlerblock at the German Ministry of Defence Website]
* [http://www.gdw-berlin.de/index-e.php German Resistance Memorial Center]

References

* German Ministry of Defence
* German Wikipedia


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