Thomas Graham’s Diary – 9 & 10th November 1939

Thomas begins his next entry with some breaking international news. He reports ‘It appears an attempt was made last night to assassinate Hitler…a considerable number of Black Guards appear to have been killed and wounded but Hitler had left shortly before the explosion’. The following day Thomas receives news that the bomb was ‘ascribed to the US’.

The assassination attempt in Munich was actually carried out by Johan Georg Elser. On the 8th November, Hitler was due to give his anniversary speech of the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’ This was a celebration of the failed coup d’état by Adolf Hitler and Erich Ludendorff in 1923.

Elser’s motive for assassination was revealed in a 1939 Gestapo report: he wanted to avoid a war and improve the conditions of workers.

The assassination attempt involved a timed bomb placed behind a lectern where Hitler would be making his speech. Every year Hitler made his speech at the same time and same place for ‘Beer Hall Putsch’ in Munich. Unfortunately for Elser, Hitler left the building early and his bomb went off thirteen minutes after Hitler’s departure. Eight people were killed and around 60 injured.

Hitler called his early departure ‘fate’. His speech in Munich was cut short from two hours to one hour as he had to catch a train back to Berlin due to fog. Elser was captured at the Swiss border and remained in a concentration camp until his execution in 1945.