Henning von Tresckow

Henning von Tresckow

[http://www.valkyrie-plot.com/images/1943b.jpgHenning von Tresckow]

Henning Hermann Robert Karl von Tresckow (January 10 1901 – July 21 1944) was a Major General in the German Wehrmacht who is known for organizing German resistance against Hitler.

Tresckow was born in Magdeburg into a Prussian noble family with a long military tradition; his father, a cavalry general, had been present at Versailles in 1871. He received most of his early education from tutors on his family's remote rural estate; from 1913–1917 he was a student at the Gymnasium in the town of Goslar. Tresckow fought as one of the youngest soldiers with the rank of Lieutenant during World War I on the Western Front. In the Second Battle of the Marne, he earned the Iron Cross 1st class. At that time, the commander of the 1st Guards Infantry Regiment, Count Siegfried von Eulenberg, predicted that "You, Tresckow, will either become chief of the General Staff or die on the scaffold."

After the war, Tresckow took part in the suppression of the Spartacist movement in January 1919, but resigned from the Weimar Republic Reichswehr army in 1920 in order to study and pursue a career in banking. In 1924 he embarked for a world journey, visiting Brazil and the eastern United States, before he had to abandon it to take care of the family possessions back home. Like members of many prominent Prussian families, Tresckow married into another one with long standing military traditions. In 1926, he married Erika von Falkenhayn, only daughter of the chief of the General Staff from 1914–16, Erich von Falkenhayn, and returned to military service.

Although initially a sympathizer of National Socialism due to their opposition to the Treaty of Versailles, Tresckow condemned the 1934 Night of the Long Knives. After studies at the Kriegsakademie, he graduated as the best of the class of 1936, and was appointed to the German General Staff's 1st department. Studying the possible scenarios of war, he recognized the risks and weaknesses in Adolf Hitler's desire to prepare for war in 1940.

The 1938 Blomberg-Fritsch Affair alienated Tresckow and others from Hitler. As a result, he sought out civilians and soldiers who opposed Hitler, such as Erwin von Witzleben.

Tresckow opposed World War II, but in 1939 he served as an infantry division chief of staff in the invasion of Poland and during 1939-40 as a general staff officer under Gerd von Rundstedt and Erich von Manstein in Army Group A, culminating in the invasion of France in the spring of 1940. From 1941-1943 he served under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock and Field Marshal Günther von Kluge as chief operations officer of the German Army Group Center in the Soviet Union. Subsequently, he served in combat as the commanding officer of an infantry regiment defending the western bank of the Dnieper River in Ukraine. At the time of his death he was serving as Chief of Staff of the 2nd Army, in areas which are now Belarus and eastern Poland. During his World War II service he was awarded the German Cross in Gold and other decorations.

Tresckow planned several assassination plots against Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, but all failed. On March 13 1943 for example, after the Führer visited troops on the Eastern Front he (von Tresckow) managed to get explosives concealed in a package that purportedly contained bottles of cognac onto Hitler's plane by asking an officer who was traveling with Hitler to bring them to an officer named Steiff at Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia, to pay up for a lost bet. After news was received that Hitler had returned safely to his East Prussian base, it was obvious that the bomb had failed to detonate (probably due to the extremely low temperature in the unheated luggage compartment preventing the fuse from working). Tresckow's cousin and military aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Fabian von Schlabrendorff, managed to retrieve the package to prevent discovery of the plot.

After Claus von Stauffenberg's assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler and the following coup in Berlin (July 20 Plot 1944) had failed, Tresckow decided to commit suicide near the front on 21 July. To protect others, he pretended there was a partisan attack and killed himself with a hand grenade in Ostrow near Białystok. He was buried in the family home in Wartenberg. When the Nazis learned about his connections in late August, his coffin was excavated and taken to the crematorium of Sachsenhausen concentration camp.


*"Hitler is not only the arch-enemy of Germany, but the arch-enemy of the world."
*"The assassination must be attempted at all costs. Even if it should not succeed, an attempt to seize power in Berlin must be made. What matters now is no longer the practical purpose of the coup, but to prove to the world and for the records of history that the men of the resistance dared to take the decisive step. Compared to this objective, nothing else is of consequence."
*"No one among us can complain about his death, for whoever joined our ranks put on the shirt of Nessus. A man's moral worth is established only at the point where he is ready to give up his life in defense of his convictions."
*"Hitler is a dancing dervish. One must shoot him." (1938)
*"For idiots orders are laws." (1942)
*"The Allies must be stupid, if they don't see that the German military is stronger without Hitler than with him."

In Popular Culture

In the 2009 film "Valkyrie", Henning von Tresckow he is portrayed by British actor Kenneth Branagh. In 2004 he was portrayed by Ulrich Tukur in the German television movie "Stauffenberg".

See also

* July 20 Plot
* German Resistance
* Treaty of Moscow, 30/10/1943, "concerning the responsibility of the Hitler(amnesty) Followers for the committed atrocities". Since 1945 part of the UN-Charta, art. 106/107.


* "Killing Hitler" by Roger Moorhouse, (London, 2006), ISBN 0-224-07121-1
*"The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich" by William Shirer
*"Staatsstreich" by Joachim Fest
* [http://www.dhm.de/lemo/html/biografien/TresckowHenning/ short biography] with [http://www.dhm.de/lemo/objekte/pict/f87_368/index.html photograph] at the DHM de icon
* [http://www.therestlessconscience.com/ The Restless Conscience: Resistance to Hitler Insider Nazi Germany 1933-1945 (Film, USA, 1991)]

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