UK

Last Hitler Assassination Plotter Ewald-Heinrich Von Kleist Dies Aged 90

13/03/2013 12:43 GMT

The last surviving plotter involved in the plan to kill Adolf Hitler has died aged 90.

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, who originally volunteered to wear a suicide vest to assassinate the Nazi leader, died at his home in Munich on Friday, his wife, Gundula told AP.

The plot to kill Hitler was featured in the Tom Cruise film Valkyrie, where Cruise played the ringleader of the failed plot, Colonel Claus Von Staffenberg.

ewaldheinrich von kleist

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, the last surviving member of the main plot to kill Adolf Hitler

Von Kleist was from an aristocratic, military family, and his father, Ewald-Heinrich senior, was also intricately involved in the plot.

Nigel Jones, a historian and biographer who wrote Countdown To Valkyrie about the July 10 plot, said that many of the aristocratic, Christian families in Germany thought the Nazis "vulgar" but were prepared to support them if they would restore Germany's military might.

"But they strongly opposed the Nazi's racist laws, and their opposition grew when they realised the Nazis were losing the war," Jones told HuffPost UK.

Convalescing after an injury in battle, Von Kleist was approached by Stuaffenberg in January 1944. He had been chosen to model a new uniform for Hitler, and Von Stauffenberg proposed that he wear a suicide vest underneath. Von Kleist's father told his son that he expected him to go through with the suicide plot.

"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."

The plan never materialised, but Von Kleist became part of the 20 July plot, and was expected to plant the briefcase full of explosives next to the Fuhrer. But Von Stauffenberg decided to plant the bomb himself.

Hitler escaped certain death after someone moved the briefcase behind a table leg, deflecting the blast.

Von Kleist's father were arrested and executed and Von Stauffenberg was shot by firing squad.

But, Jones said, there was never enough evidence to implicate Von Kleist and he walked free after being questioned.

His death, Jones told HuffPost UK, was the "end of the era".

"They are honoured in Germany outside the defence ministry in Berlin on the anniversary of the plot. Of course, they are not beloved by everyone, there are still some on the far right that believe they tried to stab the country in the back, and undermine the war effort."