The national hero dividing Germans





The film Valkyrie tells the story of an attempt on Hitler's life by an army colonel, Claus von Stauffenberg, played by Tom Cruise. In Germany the question whether it does justice to the German Resistance is being fiercely debated, as Dan Payne discovered.

In an opinion poll in 1956, only 20% of people agreed with the idea of naming a school after Stauffenberg.

Speaking to me at an exhibition on the Colonel's life in Stuttgart's Altes Schloss, Dr Dowe said it was an uncomfortable time for many Germans.

"From the 1950s onwards," he explained, "people who lived through 1933 to 1945 were tackling the question, 'Were you part of the Resistance?'"

Eventually, the perception in German minds of the conspirators changed from that of traitors to heroes. In the exhibition room Dr Dowe even showed me special Stauffenberg Medals from the 1960s, which were given to the winners of a hill-walking tournament.



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