“”This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, This was a man!”

70 years ago, on 8 November 1939 Georg Elsers assassination attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler failed. Undoubtly had he succeeded he would not be rememberes as a hero [1] but as a madman who killed a great german statesman – after all, the biggest crimes of Hitler and Nazi Germany where still to come. Had Hitler been killed in 1939 history would have, I’m afraid, looked quite favourably upon him.

Unlike the conspirators of the 20 July plot Elser did not plan for a coup d’état or to take power himself; Elser, who acted all alone, had no illusions that Hitlers assassination could stop the Nazis. He had hoped that after the death of  the top Nazis more moderate elements would rise to the head of the Nazi party.

More than 60 years after his death Elser was finally recognized – in a ceremony during which a small Else memorial was unveiled – as somebody who ‘did not simply look away” during the “Third Reich”.

  1. Not that he was remembered as a hero in any case; for most of the time Germany preferred to think of him as a mere criminal and some suggested that he was in fact a Nazi himself