The saddest photo I took in Berlin, with a courageous story behind it

The saddest photo I took in Berlin was this photo, of a courtyard. Really, a quaint looking cobblestone courtyard you may ask? It’s the story of tragedy and courage that gives me that ‘lump in the throat feeling’……

During the World Wars, WWII more specifically, the building around the courtyard ‘Bendlerblock’, was used by the military and in 1944 it’s where Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and a group of individuals hatched and carried out a risky plan to assassinate Hitler at the Fuhrer Head Quarters. It was to hopefully over throw the National Socialist Party and ‘restore the complete majesty of law, morality and proper treatment of human beings’ – Beck/Goerdeler. It failed. And terribly so. The bomb did not kill Hitler, and the men were found out.  Sadly, in the courtyard later that same evening on 20 July 1944, the Colonel, Friedrich Olbricht, Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim and Werner von Haeften were executed by a firing squad.

To set foot in the courtyard, now named the Court of Honour,  knowing the risks that these individuals took against Hitler’s National Socialist Party all the while working for the party, is spine shivering to think. It may be sad to think these guys died in this very spot, but there is a great appreciation for what they did, and really, it may be the saddest photo I took in Berlin, but is is also one of great meaning.

Today, the Bendlerblock building houses the German Resistance Memorial and Museum. Visitors can step into Von Stauffenberg’s office. The exhibition showcases through photographs, documents and personal possessions the stories of individuals and groups who worked in an veil of absolute dangerous secrecy for the German resistance against national socialism.  It links faces and stories to the resistance, creating a picture to those that visit the museum.  This is definitely one war focused museum to visit whilst in Germany, it’s spacious and not too stuffy or crammed, making it easy to appreciate the items on display.

So writing this I guess not so perfectly happy post got thinking, stories of bravery and courage during the World Wars, as horrible as they may be, should never be forgotten. There is a movie based on this story called, Valkyrie. Worth watching, it’s bloody good.

Location: Berlin, Germany. Courtyard off Stauffenbergstrasse

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