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Berthold Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
Stauffenberg at the Volksgerichtshof
Born (1905-03-15)15 March 1905
Jettingen, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Died 10 August 1944(1944-08-10) (aged 39)
Berlin, Nazi Germany
Cause of death Execution by hanging
Nationality German
Known for 20 July plot coordinator
Home town Albstadt, Germany
Religion Roman Catholicism
Spouse(s) Maria (Mika) Classen
Parents Alfred Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
Caroline Schenk Gräfin
(von Stauffenberg family)
Relatives Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg

Berthold Alfred Maria Schenk Graf[A 1] von Stauffenberg (born 15 March 1905 in Stuttgart — executed 10 August 1944 in Berlin-Plötzensee) was a German aristocrat and lawyer who was a key conspirator in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944, alongside his younger brother, Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. After the plot failed, Berthold was tried and executed by the Nazi regime.

Early life

Berthold was the oldest of four brothers (the second being Berthold's twin Alexander Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg) born into an old and distinguished aristocratic South German Catholic family. His parents were the last Oberhofmarschall of the Kingdom of Württemberg, Alfred Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, and Caroline née von Üxküll-Gyllenband. Among his ancestors were several famous Prussians, including most notably August von Gneisenau.

In his youth, he and his brothers were members of the Neupfadfinder, a German Scout association and part of the German Youth movement.[1][2][3][4]

After having studied law at Tübingen, he became assistant professor of international law at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Foreign and International Law in 1927. He and his brother Claus were introduced by Albrecht von Blumenthal to the circle of the mystic symbolist poet Stefan George, many of whose followers became members of the German Resistance to National Socialism. He worked at the Hague from 1930–1932 and married at Berlin-Zehlendorf on 20 June 1936 Maria (Mika) Classen (Marenskaya, Russia, 5 February 1900 — Sigmaringen, 13 September 1977). They had two children:

  • Alfred Claus Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (Tübingen, 8 November 1937 — Berlin, 28 October 1987), married at Wilflingen on 24 April 1962 to his distant cousin Marie Sophie Schenk Freiin von Stauffenberg (b. Berlin, 23 September 1937), and had three sons:
    • Berthold Franz Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (b. Riedlingen, 26 May 1963), married to María Jesus Alejandra Carabias (b. 17 July 1961), and had one son:
      • Alfred Friedrich Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
    • Philipp Friedrich Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (b. Neuillydisambiguation needed, 17 May 1964), married at Lautlingen to Bettina Baatz (b. Frankfurt am Main), without issue
    • Alexander Clemens Juan Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (b. Madrid, 8 February 1967), unmarried and without issue
  • Elisabeth Caroline Margarete Maria Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg (b. 13 June 1939), married to Piero Roberti (b. 26 December 1935)

Career and coup attempt

In 1939, he joined the German Navy, working in the High Command as a staff judge and advisor for international law.

Stauffenberg at the Volksgerichtshof

Berthold's apartment at Tristanstraße in Berlin, where his brother Claus also lived for some time, was a meeting place for the July 20 conspirators, including their cousin Peter Yorck von Wartenburg. As Claus had access to the inner circle around Hitler, he was assigned to plant a bomb at the Führer's briefing hut at the military high command in Rastenburg, East Prussia on July 20, 1944. Claus then flew to Rangsdorf airfield south of Berlin where he met with Berthold. They went together to Bendlerstraße, which the coup leaders intended to utilize as the centre of their operations in Berlin.

Hitler survived the bomb blast and the coup failed. Berthold and his brother were arrested at Bendlerstraße the same night. Claus was executed by firing squad shortly afterwards.

After his arrest, Stauffenberg was questioned by the Gestapo about his views about the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". Stauffenberg told the Gestapo that “He and his brother had basically approved of the racial principle of National Socialism, but considered it to be exaggerated and excessive[5] Stauffenberg went on to state,

The racial idea has been grossly betrayed in this war in that the best German blood is being irrevocably sacrificed, while simultaneously Germany is populated by millions of foreign workers, who certainly cannot be described as of high racial quality[5]

Berthold was tried in the Volksgerichtshof ("People's Court") by Roland Freisler on 10 August and was one of eight conspirators executed by strangulation, hanged in Plötzensee Prison, Berlin, later that day. Before he was killed Berthold was strangled and then revived multiple times.[6] The entire execution and multiple resuscitations were filmed for Hitler to view at his leisure.[6]

Portrayal in the media

Berthold has been portrayed by the following actors in film:

  • Christopher Buchholz in the 2004 German film Stauffenberg.


  1. Regarding personal names, Graf is a German title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. The feminine form is Gräfin.


  1. Löttel, Holger (2007-07-22). "Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (1907–1944): Leben und Würdigung- Vortrag anläßlich der Gedenkveranstaltung zum 100.Geburtstag von Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, Ketrzyn/Rastenburg, 22.Juli 2007" (in German) (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  2. Kiesewetter, Renate. "Im Porträt: Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg" (in German) (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  3. Bentzien, Hans (2004) (in German). Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg-Der Täter und seine Zeit. Berlin: Das Neue Berlin Verlagsgesellschaft mbH. pp. 24–29. 
  4. Zeller, Eberhard (2008) (in German). Oberst Claus Graf Stauffenberg. Paderborn-Munich-Vienna-Zürich: Ferdinand Schöningh. pp. 7–10. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Noakes, Jeremy Nazism, Volume 4, University of Exeter Press, 1998 page 633
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hoffmann 1994, p. 127
  • Hoffmann, Peter (1994). The second world war, German society and internal resistance to Hitler, In "Contending with Hitler: Varieties of German Resistance in the Third Reich" (1994 ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-46668-4.  - Total pages: 208

External links

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