“This biography is sure to set off new discussions about the role and motives of the conspirators of July 20, 1944” − Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Porträt eines Attentäters
(Portrait of an Assassin)
by Thomas Karlauf
Siedler, March 2019
Who was Claus von Stauffenberg? The figure of the army officer who, at midday of July 20, 1944, set off the bomb that was meant to kill Hitler, has always been a hazy one in literature. We know the long path of the opposition that finally led to the attempted assassination, but even today we have no convincing picture of the assassin’s personality. Because we usually make our judgements according to moral criteria, we generally find it difficult to assess military resistance. This new Stauffenberg biography is based on the latest research, takes hitherto unknown sources into account and is an attempt to reconstruct the assassin’s world of ideas. The standards influencing his thoughts and deeds were compatible for him with Hitler’s policies for a long time. It was not until the summer of 1942 that he began to have second thoughts and place an officer’s political responsibility over and above duty and discipline. When two years later he took action he felt let down by most of his fellow conspirators. In any other European country, a monument would have been erected only days after the end of the war to someone who had tried to kill Hitler. Thomas Karlauf’s latest book demonstrates why Germans are still finding it difficult to come to terms with the heritage of Claus von Stauffenberg, even 75 years after the assassination attempt.
Thomas Karlauf was born in Frankfurt/Main in 1955, went to Amsterdam after graduating from high school and worked for the « Castrum Peregrini » Stefan George journal for ten years. He was an editor at Siedler and Rowohlt from 1984 until 1996, and since then has been running a writers’ agency in Berlin. 2007 saw the publication of his highly acclaimed biography: “Stefan George – The Invention of Charisma”.