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Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven.

Wessel Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven (10 November 1899, Groß-Born, Courland Governorate – 26 July 1944, Mauerwald, East Prussia), was a colonel in the High Command of the German Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) and a member of the German Resistance against German dictator Adolf Hitler (Widerstand). Loringhoven was a friend of Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, who was the leader of the 20 July Plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944.


Loringhoven came from an aristocratic Baltic German family in Courland descended from Westphalia. He grew up in Adiamünde (Skulte) in Livonia. After his Final Exams (Abitur), Loringhoven joined the Baltic-German Army (Landeswehr) in 1918, and with the formation of independent Latvia he became an officer of the 13th Infantry Regiment of Latvia. In 1922, he left Latvia in order to enter the Army of Weimar Germany (Reichswehr).

Loringhoven initially sympathized with the National Socialist program for Germany. But, in 1934, he was disaffected by the Night of the Long Knives massacre. After more negative experiences with war crimes during the German invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa), Loringhoven joined the resistance against Nazi Germany.

In 1943, with the help of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Loringhoven was relocated to the High Command of the German Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) as a colonel.

Hitler's plot to kidnap Pope Pius XII

Loringhoven's son Niki, testifying in Munich in 1972 and in recent revelations, reports that his father was involved in the foiling of Hitler's plot to kidnap Pope Pius XII.[1][2] Niki von Freytag-Loringhoven's reported that within days of the arrest of Benito Mussolini as ordered by King Victor Emmanuel III, the Führer commanded the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (the Third Reich’s Security Headquarters) to retaliate against the Italians via the kidnapping or murder of Pius XII and the king, Victor Emmanuel.[1]

In 2009 the colonel’s son, Niki Freytag Loringhoven, then 72, came forward to reveal details about the plan, reported that on 29 and 30 July 1943 his father and Erwin von Lahousen, who were employed in the section of German intelligence dealing mainly with sabotage, attended a meeting in Venice where Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, top Gerrman counterintelligence officer, also part of the resistance, informed the Italian General, Cesare Amè, of the plot .[1][2] General Amè relayed the news which allowed the plot to be foiled.[1] The Italian paper, Avvenire, reports that the younger Freytag von Loringhoven’s accounts comport with the Von Lahousen’s Nuremberg war crimes trials deposition.[1] Both officers, von Lahousen and Freytag Loringhoven, participated with Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg in the failed 20 July Plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944.[1]

20 July plot

Loringhoven provided the detonator charge and explosives for the assassination attempt against Hitler on 20 July 1944. He was able to obtain unrecognized English explosives from German intelligence (Abwehr) sources. However, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the Chief of the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or RSHA), discovered the actions of Loringhoven. On 26 July 1944, immediately before he was to be arrested by the Gestapo and fully aware of the interrogation techniques utilized by them, Loringhoven committed suicide at Mauerwald in East Prussia.


After his death, Loringhoven's wife was imprisoned along with relatives of the other members of the plot. Loringhoven's four sons were separated from their mother. All were eventually liberated by Allied forces.

A close cousin, Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, was not implicated only due to the intervention of General Heinz Guderian. His cousin was an occupant of the Führerbunker in Berlin towards the end of World War II in Europe. Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven escaped Berlin, was captured by the British, and survived the war.


Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron), which is now legally a part of the last name. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.

See also




  • Astaf von Transehe-Roseneck u.a.: Genealogisches Handbuch der Baltischen Ritterschaften. Band Livland, Görlitz 1929, S. 416ff.
  • Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven: Freytag von Loringhoven. Eine kurzgefaßte Familiengeschichte, München 1986
  • Ulrich Cartarius: Opposition gegen Hitler. Deutscher Widerstand 1933–1945 Berlin 1984, ISBN 3-88680-110-1
  • Harald Steffahn: Die Wahrheit über Stalingrad, in: Christian Zentner: Adolf Hitler, Hamburg 1979
  • Kaltenbrunner-Berichte an Bormann und Hitler über das Attentat vom 20. Juli 1944, in: Hans-Adolf Jacobsen (Hrsg.): Spiegelbild einer Verschwörung, Stuttgart 1961
  • Sven Steenberg: Wlassow – Verräter oder Patriot?< Köln 1968
  • Peter Hoffmann: Widerstand, Staatsstreich, Attentat. Der Kampf der Opposition gegen Hitler, München 1969
  • Wessel Baron Freytag von Loringhoven. Zum 25. Jahrestag des 20. Juli 1944, in: Nachrichtenblatt der Baltischen Ritterschaften< 11. Jg. (1969), Heft 2 (Juni)
  • 20. Juli 1944, hrsg. von der Bundeszentrale für Heimatdienst, Bonn 1960

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