Part II: Operation Valkyrie Launched:
Colonels Claus von Stauffenberg and Mertz von Quirnheim, close friends and key officers in the 20 July Plot
July 20th, 1944
Reserve Army HQ, Berlin:
13:10 to 15:00 PM
Right after receiving Fellgiebel’s call from Rastenburg regarding the success of the attack, Lt. General Thiele rushes to inform General Fredrich Olbricht – head of the General Army Office and key conspirator – and his chief of staff, Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim. The three men are relieved that, at last, they had managed to succeed in the mission to kill the Führer. And yet, as Mertz von Quirnheim points out, the hard part of the task begins now. Despite feeling it necessary to take some time for extra arrangements, von Quirnheim presses onto Olbricht the need to immediately place the Reserve Army (Erzatzheer) in alert, establish contact with the rest of the plotters and, above all, break the news of Hitler’s death to their superior: General Fromm, the man whose authority was crucial to properly commence and execute Valkyrie. Olbricht then places a call to General Eduard Wagner – Quartermaster General – at OKH HQ in Zossen, informing him of the assassination and asking him to make preparations for the eventual arrival of Field Marshal von Witzleben .
Mertz von Quirnheim then sets the phase one of Valkyrie in motion, putting units across Berlin in full alert. Shortly afterwards, Olbricht and Quirnheim take the set of documents needed to authorize Valkyrie from a safe in the Bendlerstrasse, and rush towards Fromm’s office to inform him and hopefully persuade him to grant immediate authorization. Fromm, who was slowly losing faith in the conspiracy ever since the failure of July 15th (and the usurpation of his authority to mobilize the Reserve Army in that day) is not particularly surprised when he hears of von Stauffenberg making an attempt, but expresses his disbelief at the Führer’s death. Having suspected such a situation might arise, Olbricht contacts Fellgiebel at the Wolf’s Lair, giving Fromm a direct line. Asking for Field Marshal Keitel, Fromm hears it directly from Bormann - the only one prepared to talk to him – that Hitler, Keitel, Jodl and several others are dead. Afterwards, Fromm almost collapses into his seat. To the frustration of Olbricht and Quirnheim, he demands to be left alone for a few moments, the orders for Valkyrie on his desk.
Around 14:40 Fromm emerges from his office and into the room where the two plotters await for him. Handing Quirnheim the signed folder, he instructs him to being phase two as soon as possible, and eventually implement the entire plan . Fromm warns Olbricht that his participation remains conditional – to Olbricht’s disbelief - and he also makes it clear he will not tolerate any sort of insubordination from Reserve Army officers. By 15:00 PM a group of plotters already inside the Bendlerstrasse has joined Fromm and Olbricht, including former panzer commander General Hoepner, Counts von Schulenburg and Yorck von Wartenburg, and Stauffenberg’s brother Berthold. Officers and Staff at the Reserve Army HQ are informed of Hitler’s death and the assumption of military and political power by Beck and von Witzleben, the unspoken assumption being that the SS – and possibly key party members – plot a coup. Beck is expected to arrive within the hour, while Field Marshal Witzleben is preparing to travel to Zossen. Goerdeler, the likely candidate for Chancellor, remains hiding from the Gestapo, unlikely to be contacted until the morning of the next day. With Fromm’s temporary support, the coup is now in motion.
The Wolf’s Lair:
14:00 PM to 18:00 PM
From the men that were to be contacted by Bormann after Hitler’s death and summoned to Rastenburg, Goebbels would receive the news too late to leave Berlin and Himmler would laconically express his inability to attend a meeting – therefore fueling Bormann’s growing paranoia, thus making it unable for all of the seemingly key player to be on the same spot at once. The first one to arrive was Joachim von Ribbentrop, who hardly had any time to mourn the Führer before Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering finally made his appearance sometime after 2:00 PM, using his private train to rush towards Rastenburg. For all the decadent days Goering experienced around that time, July 20th did not saw him on drug induced frenzy, but it did found him on an aggressive state of mind. Indeed, the Reichsmarshall wasted no time to harshly berate Bormann him in front of the staff for the neglected security that led to Hitler’s demise, along with Bormann’s failure to secure the immediate attendance of Goebbels and Himmler. An infuriated Bormann, about to inform Goering of his growing suspicions regarding the missing Colonel Stauffenberg, bits his tongue and decides not to bring up the issue .
Matters are made worse when it is announced that Mussolini’s arrival via special train is imminent. Goering – who intensely dislikes Mussolini - forces von Ribbentrop to receive their ally at the station despite the Minister’s protests. Learning from Hamburg that Grand Admiral Doenitz has taken a plane at 14:50 PM and is expected soon, Goering is forced to give the visibly shaken and even emotional Mussolini a tour of the Wolf’s Lair so he can pay his respects to the fallen Führer. Sitting down to drink some tea after the arrival of Doenitz from Hamburg and to Bormann’s increasing annoyance, Goering boasts of his new position and begins to speak at length on his plans on Europe and his belief that “things need to change. As Marshal Graziani – who came with Mussolini – asks whether some knowledge of the culprit is available, the Italians watch in increasing disbelief as Goering launches a tirade against Himmler and the SS first, then against Ribbentrop when the latter attempts to stop Goering from launching accusations. An attempt by Bormann to intervene only makes matters worse, as Goering charges them both with incompetence , Doenitz staying out of the discussion.
It does not take long for Mussolini and Graziani to propose suspending the meeting until the situation is more clarified, and the Reichsmarshall is only too happy to oblige them. It is around that time (18:00), that Fellgiebel’s blackout begins to slowly falter. Goering, Ribbentrop and Bormann receive a series of disturbing news: Rumors state that both SS and Heer units are moving across the streets of Berlin, with a report stating that gunfire has erupted through the capital. A stunned Goering orders Fellgiebel to contact Himmler and Fromm immediately, demanding to know what’s going on. A few minutes later, Fellgiebel reports the Bendlerstrasse cannot be reached and that Himmler is out of contact, last seen departing his village for Berlin with Kaltenbrunner in tow. As Mussolini’s train departs back to Northern Italy, Bormann is called to answer a call from Gestapo Chief Müller, all while Goering fumes and demands to be put through to the OKH/OKW HQ. Grand Admiral Doenitz, sitting quietly and alone, begins to seriously consider the possibility of an coup within the party and the military structures. The question is… by whom?
Gansenstein Village and Berlin:
13:00 to 16:00 PM
It was through the SS’s own communications channel at Rastenburg that the Reichsführer SS, Heinrich Himmler, was informed of Hitler’s assassination. Himmler had spent the morning with Kaltenbrunner and few SS officers making plans regarding Hungary and the possibility of forcing Regent Horthy to finally hand over the Hungarian Jews, until news were broken to him no less than twenty minutes after Hitler’s demise. Himmler and Kaltenbrunner spend the next few moments in deep consideration, and then suspend the meeting to discuss the situation alone. In privacy, both men immediately suspect the resistance groups within the army, and realize that should that be the case both of them are in serious danger  either by the potential plotters or by Goering, Bormann and other members of the government.
Having experienced severe manpower shortages through the middle of the year due to the continuous creation of Waffen-SS units for the battlefield, it had been only five days ago that Hitler had granted Himmler permission to recruit men for the SS from the Reserve Army units, a key disposition that nonetheless had not been started at that point. While Himmler thought that most of it not all of the combat units would stand with him should the need arise, virtually all of those combat ready divisions where fighting in the Balkans, Normandy or the East, each of them locked in battles harsh enough to make it virtually impossible that they could be quickly redeployed to Germany itself. Nonetheless, Himmler could still rely on his police units, guard camps, a few parachuting regiments, a few units in formation in Austria and Bohemia-Moravia, and potentially a few regiments in Berlin as well. As a result, both Kaltenbrunner and Himmler agreed that putting down a potential putsch by the army and seizing the security services was vital to their survival.
Soon afterwards, Himmler receives a summon from Bormann that he choses to ignore, and more news on the assasination are sent by Rattenhuber through SS channels. In response Himmler begins to have calls placed, some of them successful despite the growing blackout Fellgiebel is trying to enforce. Kripo Chief Arthur Nebe is first, being tasked by immediate investigation of the assassination. Gestapo Chief Müller follows, receiving orders to conduct the arrest of von Stauffenberg and other key officers in Berlin, with Walter Schellenberg being warned of a potential coup and ordered to stay vigilant. Finally, Himmler manages to reach the most reliable office he can find in the Berlin area: the infamous Lt. Colonel Otto Skorzeny. Breaking the news of Hitler’s demise to him and warning him that a plot may be in order, Himmler orders Skorzeny to gather SS units and work with loyal Heer formations in ensuring the safety of the capital. Temporarily satisfied, the Reichsführer and his lieutenants board their cars and prepare to reach Berlin as soon as possible. What Himmler fails to realize, however, is that Nebe is already a conspirator, Schellenberg has withheld knowledge of the plot for himself, and Müller has already secretly sided with Bormann weeks, if not months, ago .
15:00 to 17:00 PM
While most of the key figures of the Third Reich were absent from Berlin in that particular day – Hitler and Bormann at the Wolf’s Lair, and Doenitz, Himmler and Goering elsewhere -, left in the city were still key members of the bureaucracy and the security services, and more importantly Reichministers Speer, Funk and Goebbels, who spent the morning at the Propaganda Ministry at a venue designed to raise the morale of fellow ministers, functionaries and selected journalists. It was Speer’s task of delivering the main speech that resumed the call for resistance and total war, drawing a healthy round of applause after finished. Having refused General Fromm’s invitation for lunch, Speer shared a cup of vine with Funk and Goebbels before leaving for his ministry . Due to Fellgiebel’s blackout of communications and the chaos at Rastenburg it takes a while for Press Chief Otto Dietrich to finally contact Goebbels, breaking the news of the Führer’s death. Goebbels, grief stricken and in shock, begins to prepare to depart to Rastenburg. Alas, before Goebbels can depart to the airport the Reserve Army begins to mobilize and spreads through the streets of Berlin, passing outside the Propaganda Ministry very soon due to a last minute change in planning.
Kripo Chief Arthur Nebe informs the Bendlerstrasse that Himmler has contacted him from East Prussia, making his arrest virtually impossible . Quirnheim and General Paul von Hase, the City Commander, convene that the greater threat within Berlin is Goebbels, and therefore task Nebe with his arrest (thus replacing Major Remer, a seemingly unreliable officer). Nebe rushes with a group of his men and a company of Reserve Army troops, and blocks the exits to the Propaganda Ministry. Desperate attempts from Goebbels to contact Rastenburg, the Bendlerstrasse or Speer meet in failure, and soon afterwards the lines are cut. Nebe and his men eventually break through the building and storm into Goebbels’s office, informing him of his arrest for treason against the party. Realizing a coup is taking place by the army, and believing the SS to be involved due to Nebe’s presence, Goebbels’s psyche gives in as he believes the situation to be hopeless. Before the Kripo can intervene he bites a cyanide capsule, violently collapsing to the floor. A few minutes afterwards, a messenger reports to the Bendlerstrasse that Joseph Goebbels is dead .
By 15:45 Stauffenberg and von Haeften land in Berlin after escaping from the Wolf’s Lair, being escorted along with General Beck to the Reserve Army HQ. With the support of City Commander von Hase, orders begin to pour out to the Berlin units, to the Werhkreise (military districts), and to key points like Prague, Paris and Warsaw. The beginning of these orders will become famous (or infamous): “The Führer Adolf Hitler is dead! An unscrupulous clique of party leaders alien to the front has attempted, under the exploitation of this situation, to betray the hard-struggling front and to seize power for their own selfish purposes...” Included in the message as well is the proclamation of General Beck as Head of State, and Field Marshal von Witzleben as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Despite Fromm being forced to arrest the Commander of Wehrkreis III (Berlin), General von Kortzfleisch, due to insubordination , the other officers in Berlin follow orders, and troops begin to mobilize across the capital. Supported by Nebe’s Kripo and the Berlin Police under conspirator Count von Helldorf, ministries and offices are locked down and scads of party members, SS officers and bureaucrats are taken prisoner, including men like Ley, Funk, Lammers and other key Nazi personnel.
The key moments, however, happen at around 16:30. It is around this time Skorzeny begins to enter Berlin followed by the first few companies of SS men, being blocked by a Reserve Army unit led by Major Remer. Remer, under orders to arrest the SS, attempts to force the SS Colonel to surrender. The SS men reply by opening fire, and soon both groups fall back leaving a dozen men dead on the ground, Major Remer included. Around the same time SS Oberführer Humbert Achamer-Pifrader and a Gestapo squadron arrive at the Bendlerstrasse on Müller’s command, bringing orders for the arrest of von Stauffenberg, just arriving by car. Reserve Army troops surround the Gestapo officers, who nonetheless attempt to fire at the Colonel as another gunfight breaks out in the street.
By 17:00 PM, the SS, Gestapo and security services are in a shooting war with the Reserve Army.
Notes for Part II:
 The butterflies begin to spread! In OTL, Olbricht is informed that Hitler lives, but Fellgiebel’s wording regarding von Stauffenberg is ambiguous enough to make it look like no attempt took place at all. I’ve decided to go with Peter Hoffman’s take on the situation, that being that Olbricht, unaware that the bomb had actually gone off IOTL initially thought it was a situation similar to July 15th and thus a coup was either futile or too much of a risk. Here, it is clear Hitler is dead and the attempt was successful, emboldening Olbricht and preventing a decisive two hour delay.
 Now, Fromm knew very well what Stauffenberg was up to. Stauffenberg told him point blank, and despite his constant ambiguity he personally told Stauffenberg not to forget about Keitel if he attempted a coup. In this scenario, not only is Hitler gone (and Fromm has reliable info here), but also Keitel and a good part of the Wehrmacht command. Fromm, highly ambitious despite his caution, knows there’s a real vacuum in power to be filled, and much as he may not like Olbricht events show he did have faith in Stauffenberg. As we will see later on, Fromm’s attitude is far more complex and opportunistic than it seems, but I feel it’s perfectly reasonable that in this particular context and in the absence of Hitler and Keitel he would give Valkyrie the greenlight.
 Bormann is one crafty fellow, but also one to hold grudges, and he and Goering did not get along at all. Knowing how much of a mess Goering is at this point and looking as his own actions in July 20th and in April 1945, I have no doubt he would not be able to rise up to the occasion, and would unnecessarily antagonize his rival. Bormann, in response, would probably be only too happy to undermine Goering and begin to think about the future.
 If you think this looks strange, the OTL tea party with Hitler, Mussolini and the rest was one for the ages… Seeing that Goering and Ribbentrop were at each other’s throats in OTL July 20th and the first one probably feels a lot more entitled to speak his mind, chances are this meeting with Mussolini would turn into a mess as well, and a very unsauspicious beginning to Goering’s aspirations.
 Now, I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theories of Himmler being a part of the 20 July Plot, but there are factors we simply cannot overlook. Himmler had been contacted at least once by the plotters through indirect means; with one associate of Carl Goerdeler bluntly offering support should Himmler overthrow Hitler to end the war. Far from having him arrested, thus uncovering the plots of Tresckow and the Army Group Centre officers, Himmler did nothing, and it appears he had privately expressing suspicions that some officers were plotting against Hitler. Whether this is negligence or something else I don’t plan to speculate on, but the facts are these:
Himmler has expressed openly his utter contempt for Goering, going as far to declare that should something happen to Hitler he would see to it that the Reichsmarshall would not become Führer. Not only that, Himmler knows Goering knows of his hostility, which on this environment and given the paranoid court Hitler (and Bormann) were running can only predispose both men to a conflict. But to make matters truly worse, Himmler realizes that if word gets out to Bormann or Goering that he did nothing to stop the plot – whatever his motives were -, he’s finished. That, above all, would mean he needs to get into action far sooner he would prefer too.
I suppose the jury is still out on the extent of knowledge Kaltenbrunner had, but neither the Gestapo nor the security services had been particularly effective despite slowly closing in the Valkyrie plotters through July. A similar accusation can be levelled against him by his rivals since to merely arrest Goerdeler or others that were targeted a few days ago might have stopped the conspiracy, and since he realizes that, I believe it plausible Himmler and him would join forces out of their belief that they position is in danger.
 Believe it or not, Müller – who excelled at his work – presented Himmler with concrete evidence of plotting within the General Staff, particularly through Admiral Canaris. Himmler’s response? He told Müller to simply drop the case. As a result, Müller would then enter in an informal pact with Bormann, which will have serious effects later on.
 Minor butterflies again, as Goebbels was contacted and informed while meeting with Funk and Speer, and would later insist on having Speer nearby as he set his counterattack in place. With sheer chaos at Rastenburg and with Fellgiebel doing his best to make communications hard for those outside the plot, Speer and Funk leave before Goebbels is informed.
 Nebe was supposed to take a dozen policemen or so to arrest and kill Himmler on the day of the plot, but the signal for him never arrived because, inexplicably, the plotters neglected the fact that Himmler was not in Berlin. Here, with an earlier and better coordinated plan, orders are changed accordingly and Nebe goes after Goebbels, who can’t talk his way out of him like he did with Remer.
 Goebbels showed little inclination to survive Hitler in OTL, and as far as he knows Berlin is already falling to a coup. The emotional distress he would probably go through makes me think he’s likely to kill himself before surrendering to Nebe – which, ITTL hindsight, would have been the right choice for him -.
 Pretty much OTL. This particular General never believed in Hitler’s death, and had to be arrested by Beck and Olbricht. Chances are he wouldn’t believe Fromm either, so he gets arrested here as well.