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Biography

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Overview (4)

Born in Jettingen, Bavaria, Germany
Died in Berlin, Germany  (execution by firing squad)
Birth NameClaus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A charismatic German resistance member and would-be assassin of Adolf Hitler, Claus Phillip Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg was born 15 November 1907, 1:00 a.m. CET, in the family's castle in the small Bavarian town of Jettingen (today known as Jettingen-Scheppach). He was born one of a set of twins (his other twin, Konrad Maria, only lived for one day after birth). His parents, Alfred Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and Caroline Gräfin von Üxküll-Gyllenband, already had given birth to another set of twins, Alexander and Berthold (b. 15 March 1905). The father came from a well-known aristocratic Swabian family, while their mother, although born and raised in Austria, had eastern Prussian and Swedish roots. Claus is described as having been a rather withdrawn child, although far from being shy. His closest intimate, from childhood on, was his brother Berthold. Claus developed passions for literature, music, arts and horseback riding at a very early age and kept them all his life. Unfortunately, in his youth he suffered from poor health, and it was likely that this contributed to his lack of ambition, which in turn contributed to his "average" grades in school while his healthier older brothers managed to be straight-A students. Skilled in singing and playing both violoncello and piano, Claus considered becoming a musician at one point, but had more serious plans about studying architecture. In 1926 he finished school, by which time he had changed his career plans from music to the military and soon enlisted in the army, and after training was posted to the 17th Cavalry Regiment in Bamberg. One year later he was transferred for additional training to Dresden's cavalry school. Although one of the best trainees of his age group, Claus was not popular with his superiors because of minor rule-breaking. His infractions weren't serious--things like smoking in his superiors' presence or always wanting to have the last word--but he nonetheless provoked the authorities at the school, who transferred him to Hanover in 1928.

On the other hand, though not a favorite with his superiors, his colleagues described him as very likable and social, if somewhat stand-offish. Unlike his fellow trainees, however, Claus was interested neither in philandering nor carousing--he preferred to study Russian parallel to his training. During a dancing lesson he met the mother of his future wife Nina, who raved about him to her daughter when she came home from boarding school. They were introduced to each other by the mother and soon became a couple, engaged on 15 November 1930 and married on 26 September 1933. Four children resulted from the marriage: Berthold Maria (born 3 July 1934), Heimeran (born 9 July 1936), Franz Ludwig (born 4 May 1938) and Valerie (born 15 November 1940). The young officer also became more and more successful in his career, and at his various promotions was often the youngest of his rank, due mainly to his variety of skills and outstanding organizational abilities. He was quite the workaholic, although a contributing factor may have been his suffering from sleeping disorders. Surprisingly, he never had health problems because of his stressful and somewhat unhealthy lifestyle--he smoked several packs of cigarettes a day and also was "quite fond" of coffee and wine.

In April 1943, now a colonel and serving in Tunisia, he was seriously wounded in combat--he lost his right hand, his left eye and two fingers of his left hand, in addition to receiving a leg injury, although it was not that serious. He spent five months in a military hospital in Munich and later was sent home to his estate in Jettingen for further recovery. In the fall of 1943, however, he was back at work (now in Berlin) despite both his doctors' and his family's objections. The war, and his injuries, had changed him from a strong supporter of Hitler's regime into a fervent opponent of it, and he became one of the most important conspirators in a plan by senior army officers to overthrow Hitler. Although some of his fellow conspirators preferred just to arrest Hitler and take over the government, von Stauffenberg was adamant that the entire Nazi system had to be destroyed, including Hitler, which is why he volunteered to carry out the assassination personally, a task made easier by his recent appointment as Chief of Staff. On 20 July 1944 the plot was put into motion. Von Stauffenberg was one of the few officers who had direct access to Hitler's headquarters in Rastenburg, Eastern Prussia. He originally planned to place two bombs under Hitler's desk, but was interrupted and was only able to arm one of them. Unfortunately, the bomb--placed in a briefcase--was accidentally moved behind a strong wooden support of the table it was beneath, which was between it and its intended target, Hitler. After the explosion von Stauffenberg saw a dead body being carried out of the building, believed it to be Hitler and notified his fellow conspirators in Berlin so they could put the second part of their plan into motion, which was to seize control of the government. Unfortunately, he was wrong--the body was obviously not that of Hitler, who had survived with only minor injuries because the wooden support of the desk absorbed most of the blast from the bomb. When it became known that Hitler had survived, some of the conspirators lost their nerve and the plot failed. Hours after his flight back to Berlin von Stauffenberg was arrested, as were many of the other conspirators. He was executed on the same night, and more than 200 other conspirators met that same fate within the next few weeks (before being killed many of them were gruesomely tortured, which was filmed by their executioners "for posterity"). Pregnant Nina von Stauffenberg, who barely had known anything about the plot, was taken into clan liability and gave birth to daughter Konstanze on 27 January 1945, in a Nazi maternity clinic.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: A. Nonymous

Spouse (1)

Elisabeth Magdalena Vera Lydia Hertha "Nina" Freiin von Lerchenfeld (26 September 1933 - 20 July 1944) ( his death) ( 5 children)

Trade Mark (3)

Wavy chestnut hair, very light skin and piercing blue eyes
High cheekbones
Slightly untidy dress and bearing

Trivia (46)

One of the leading figures of the 7/20/1944 plot by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler. He actually planted the suitcase containing the bomb under the table where Hitler was standing.
Arrested and later executed shortly before 1 a.m. on 7/21/1944.
Had a twin brother, Konrad Maria, who died when he was just one day old. His two older brothers, Alexander and Berthold, were also twins.
Was fluent in Russian, French and English and semi-fluent in Greek and Latin. He also worked as a military interpreter for English once.
Originally wanted to become a musician or an architect.
Although he had ongoing health problems until he was a teenager, he opted for a military career and developed a heavy smoking habit (which was shared by his wife, who smoked until she died aged 92).
Mainly raised in Stuttgart.
Met his future wife when she was only 16.
Daughter Valerie was born on his 33rd birthday.
He and his wife had three sons and two daughters: Berthold (named after Claus' brother), Heimeran, Franz-Ludwig, Valerie and Konstanze. Konstanze was actually born after her father's death.
Born 01:00 a.m. CET.
He and his future wife got engaged on his 23rd birthday.
Finished school with Grade B in French, History, Geography and Mathematics, Grade C in Essay Writing, Literature, Philosophy, Greek and Natural History and Grade D in Latin.
His mother was an Austrian-born countess form Eastern Prussia.
Suffered a broken collarbone when he fell off a horse in 1936.
Admired poet Stefan George and often quoted him.
When working as a cavalryman in Bamberg, he was transferred to Hanover by his line manager. It is believed that this actually happened because of disciplinary reasons.
Was seriously wounded while stationed in Tunisia (April 1943), He lost his whole right hand, his left eye and two fingers of his left hand. He later taught himself how to write with his left hand.
In 1929 he finished his training in Hanover as sixth-best of his age group and as best in cavalry.
As a child and teenager, he often missed school because he was ill, mainly with bronchitis and tonsillitis.
His closest friend was his brother Berthold.
Was Baltic/Austrian from his mother's side and Swabian from his father's side.
Trained as a cavalryman, he was still able to break horses when, after his serious injuries, only three of his fingers remained.
Could play violoncello and piano.
His widow, who never remarried, died in 2006.
An avid horseman, he often went on horseback rides until going to work.
August Neidhardt von Gneisenau is among his maternal ancestors.
When he was about 11 he designed a plan how to rebuild the entire family castle.
Was a patient of famous surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch, who developed an artificial hand for him. He never made use of it, though, telling the doctor several times that he had "no time for that at the moment".
When he lost his eye, there was concern that he would go blind in his remaining eye, but that never happened.
His wife Nina's mother, whom he had met earlier, introduced him to her daughter. The mother mentioned his politeness and that he was a very good dancer, which roused Nina's curiosity.
Was already fluent in French as a child.
Claimed seriously when asked by Nina's mother that he only wanted to get married to avoid his family becoming extinct. Since the couple never had any serious marriage problems, it is believed Claus only wanted to provoke his mother-in-law to-be, just as he liked to provoke his superiors.
His grandson, Philipp von Schulthess, will be in the movie "Valkyrie" which is about the plot.
Became a member of poet Stefan George's circle of acquaintances, which was called "George-Kreis", when he was 16. He also attended the poet's funeral in Locarno in 1926.
Was known to be very humorous and joked after only three of his fingers remained he never knew what to do with that many fingers anyway.
Graduated from school one year before he ordinarily would have.
Wrote poetry as a teenager and published articles as an adult. He even won a prize for one of his articles.
His wife, nicknamed "Nina", was born 8/27/1913, which made her nearly six years younger than her husband, in Lithuania (back then Russia) to a German-speaking family.
Learned to speak English to native level within two years. He also visited England for several weeks twice.
His mother was 15 years younger than his father.
Was once responsible for the training of future Olympic Games horseback riders.
A Grand Tattoo for him was held on 11/15/ 2007,ll which would have been his 100th birthday, in his birthplace.
In 1913 he was involved in a skiing accident that left him requiring stitches on his knee. Despite being still a child at that time, he somehow managed to convince doctors he would not need any local anesthesia. Later in life he also refused to take morphine after he was wounded, to avoid addiction. This fact was purposely left out in the movie Valkyrie (2008) because "people would think it's a contrivance", according to director Brian J. Singer.
He only wanted to end the war in the West against the democracies, not the war in the East against the Soviet Union.

Personal Quotes (3)

[to Friedrich Fromm's secretary when realizing the July 20 plot has failed] They have all left me high and dry.
My injuries have at least one advantage - finally I don't have to hide my fear of wasps anymore. [laughs]
[asked if he drank often or much] Gladly often much!

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