Tuesday, 6 May 2008


Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager, last of the conspirators in the plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944, has died. [1] To Ernst Jünger, writing in his diary at the time, the aristocratic conspiracy against Hitler seemed to have the true character of tragedy:
The great game is playing out between the plebiscitarian Demos and the remnants of the aristocracy. If Kniébolo [Hitler] falls, so the hydra will fashion a new head. [2]
From the edges of the conspiracy, it seemed to Jünger that, whatever happened, the old aristocracy was doomed: the future lay with the demotic mass and its technicians. As it was, the plot of July 1944 failed, whereupon the conspiracy effectively came to a swift and deadly end.
What victims here fall, in the small circles of the last chivalric men, of free spirits, of men feeling and thinking beyond the dull passions of the masses. [3]
Philipp von Boeselager was one of the few to escape the reprisals.

[1] Obituary, The Telegraph, 2nd May 2008.
[2] [“Die große Partie spielt zwischen dem plebiszitären Demos und den Resten der Aristokratis. Wenn Kniébolo fällt, so wird die Hydra einen neuen Kopf bilden.”] Ernst Jünger, 27. März 1944, Strahlungen (Tübingen: Heliopolis-Verlag, 1949), p.497.
[3] [“Welche Opfer hier wieden fallen, und gerade in den kleinen Kreisen der letzten ritterlichen Menschen, der freien Geister, der jenseits der dumpfen Massenleidenschaften Fühlenden und Denkenden.”] Ernst Jünger, 22. Juli 1944, Strahlungen (Tübingen: Heliopolis-Verlag, 1949), p.541.


The Joy of Marmalade said...

It's an interesting question: how early in the career of a nasty dictator should you try to assassinate him? Did Pinochet save Chile from its own Hitler/Lenin/Mao by killing Allende? We'll never know.

But there's not much of a case for sneering at Everyman and then botching an assassination; Everyman might conclude that the aristocrats had indeed become decadent.

Deogolwulf said...

"Everyman might conclude that the aristocrats had indeed become decadent."

A conclusion to which some aristocrats also came, Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen for one -- neglect of duties, etc.

Deogolwulf said...

By the by: the aristocrats of the Young England movement in the early nineteenth century had reached a similar conclusion about the English aristocracy.

Lil Jimmy said...

Philipp von Boeselager was one of the few to escape the reprisals.

One wonders how he managed this. De Lampedusa's Leopard springs to mind in this context as well.

Sean Jeating said...

Pinochet a saviour (by grace of Kissinger, CIA et al)? Now that's a most interesting question!

As for James' wondering: perhaps one of several reasons von Boeselager could survive, but an important one - in case it's fact and not 'legend' was that his comrades although under torture wouldn't divulge his name.

Death Bredon said...

Dear Blogger,

I greatly enjoy your blog, but my eyes grow weary with age and decay. Could you please use a larger font for the sake of we Grumpy Old Fogeys?


Lord Peter

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Dear Death Breedon,

On most Internet Browsers if you go up to the toolbar, look at the view menu - and click on text size (or the equivalent) you will able to view any site at your prefered font size.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mild,

Thank you. I'll put Bunter right on it.


Lord Peter