Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin bigraphy, stories - Religion

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin : biography

10 July 1922 - 8 March 2013

Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin (10 July 1922 – 8 March 2013http://www.finanznachrichten.de/nachrichten-2013-03/26225292-letzter-verbliebene-teilnehmer-des-hitler-attentats-vom-20-juli-gestorben-003.htm) was a German Army officer in World War II, and later worked as a publisher. A member of the von Kleist family, his parents were active in the German resistance against Adolf Hitler. Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin, who lived to be 90, was the last surviving member of the 20 July 1944 plot to kill Hitler.

Portrayal in the media

In the 2004 German production, Stauffenberg, von Kleist-Schmenzin is portrayed by actor Sebastian Rüger.


Kleist was born on the family's manor Gut Schmenzin at Schmenzin (Smęcino) near Köslin (now Koszalin, Poland) on the Oder (Odra) River in Pomerania. His father was Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin (1890–1945), also an opponent of Nazism.

Like his father, who had criticised Nazi ideology in print as early as 1929, Ewald-Heinrich loathed Hitler and National Socialism from the beginning. The Nazi murders of 30 June 1934 — the "Night of the Long Knives" — further solidified the young von Kleist-Schmenzin's hatred of the Nazi régime.

In 1940, at age 18, he joined the Wehrmacht as an infantry officer. Kleist was personally recruited for the resistance by Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg. In January 1944, with his father's blessing, he volunteered to replace the wounded Axel Freiherr von dem Bussche-Streithorst in another suicidal assassination attempt against Hitler.

Kleist, the company leader, and his men were scheduled to show Hitler new uniforms that had been tested at the front. Kleist planned to set off explosives hidden in his briefcase. He believed that he might have been able to escape alive, even if the briefcase exploded in his hands. But like earlier attempts, the plan was not carried out, as Hitler kept putting off the scheduled uniform demonstration.

On 20 July 1944, Kleist was one of the many supporters and helpers at the Bendlerblock in Berlin after the attempt on Hitler's life at the Wolf's Lair near Rastenburg in East Prussia. After the plot's failure, he managed to cover up his resistance activities. Proceedings against him were later dismissed for want of evidence in December 1944, thereby sparing Kleist a trial before the Volksgerichtshof, which almost certainly would have ended with a death sentence, as it did for many of his fellow plotters, including his own father. However, he was imprisoned in Ravensbrück concentration camp, and afterwards he was posted to the front for the rest of the war.

After the war he was left homeless when most of Pomerania was transferred to Poland and all Germans expelled. Kleist went into the publishing business, founding his own publishing house, the Ewald-von-Kleist-Verlag. He joined the Protestant Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg), to which his executed father had belonged, admitted as a Knight of Honour in 1957 and promoted to Knight of Justice in 1975.Robert M. Clark, Jr., The Evangelical Knights of Saint John; Dallas, Texas: 2003; p. 46. In 1962, Kleist founded the Wehrkundetagung in Munich, later called, in English, the Munich Conference on Security Policy; he moderated it until 1998.

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