Johann Georg Elser

Johann Georg Elser bigraphy, stories - Anti-Nazi activist

Johann Georg Elser : biography

4 January 1903 – 9 April 1945

Johann Georg Elser (4 January 1903 – 9 April 1945) was a German opponent of Nazism. He planned and carried out an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on 8 November 1939 in Munich, and he also planned to assassinate Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels in 1939.

Hitler assassination attempt

[[Bürgerbräukeller after the 1939 assassination attempt.]] In 1938, Europe was on the verge of war over the Sudetenland Crisis. After the experience of World War I, Elser was apprehensive about the possibility of another war. Though war was averted at this time, Elser mistrusted Hitler’s peace proclamations and considered removing the Nazi leadership by assassination. In order to find out how best to implement his plan, Elser travelled to Munich on 8 November 1938, to attend Hitler’s annual speech on the anniversary of Hitler’s failed Beer Hall Putsch. Elser not only judged the poorly guarded event to be a favourable opportunity, but during the same night also witnessed the outbursts of anti-Jewish violence during the Kristallnacht. This experience convinced Elser that a leadership capable of inciting such violence would plunge Germany into a major war, and that only Hitler’s death could prevent this from happening. Elser chose the next anniversary of the Beerhall Putsch, to kill Hitler with a bomb during his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller. He built a time bomb with which he travelled to Munich in the weeks preceding Hitler’s anniversary speech. Elser managed to stay inside the Bürgerbräukeller after closing hours each night for over a month, during which time he hollowed out the pillar behind the speaker’s rostrum, and placed the bomb inside it. Security was relatively lax as it had been left to local party strongman Christian Weber rather than Reinhard Heydrich.Martyn Housden, Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich, Routledge, 1997, p. 174

While Elser was making these preparations, World War II broke out on 1 September 1939. Due to his intense, laborious preparations, he hardly noticed these and other events. Unknown to Elser, Hitler initially cancelled his speech at the Bürgerbräukeller because of the war. However, he then changed his mind and attended the anniversary, but planned on returning to Berlin that same night. Fog prevented a flight back to Berlin, forcing Hitler to deliver his speech earlier than planned in order to take the train. Hitler left the beer hall at about 13 minutes before Elser’s bomb exploded as planned at 21:20, and Hitler did not even learn of this attempt on his life until later that night on a stop in Nuremberg. The bomb killed eight people, and injured sixty-three, seriously injuring sixteen of them.


alt=A plaque with the German text in all capital letters:’"Ich wollte ja durch meine Tat noch größeres Blutvergießen verhindern." Zum Gedenken an Johann Georg Elser, der in Königsbronn seine Jugend verbrachte. Am 8. Nov. 1939 wollte er mit seinem Attentat auf Adolf Hitler das Völkermorden verhindern. Am 9. April 1945 wurde Johan Georg Elser im KZ Dachau ermordet.’ In April 1945 German defeat became imminent and Allied troops were drawing nearer to Dachau. This meant that the Nazis’ aim of staging a trial became futile, so Hitler ordered the killing of the "special security prisoner Eller", the name by which Elser was called in Dachau. Gestapo chief, SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller delivered the order for this killing to the Commandant of the Dachau concentration camp, SS-Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter.Following order has arrived: At one of the next terror attacks on Munich area of Dachau, "Eller" has a deadly accident. I ask you to liquidate "Eller" without attracting attention after such a situation appears. Also take special care that only a few people who are specially bound come to know of this. The message for me then shall be something like…On… caused by a terror attack (air raid) on…. security prisoner "Eller" fatally injured

Elser was shot dead on 9 April 1945, in the Dachau concentration camp, a few weeks before the end of the war. He was 42 years old. A plaque (see illustration) dedicated to his memory in Königsbronn says: