Henning von Tresckow

Robert Karl Hermann Henning von Tresckow ( Magdeburg , October as January as 1901 – Ostrow , 21 as July as 1944 ) was a General of the German Army known for his role in the plot of July 20, 1944 against Adolf Hitler . 1


Childhood and youth

Von Tresckow was born in Magdeburg in a family of the Prussian nobility with a long military tradition; His father, a cavalry general, was present at Versailles in 1871 during the proclamation of William I as emperor and the founding of the German Empire . He received most of his initial education from private tutors in remote rural family property. From 1913 to 1917 he was a student at the Institute ( Gymnasium ) from the city of Goslar . Tresckow, being very young, fought with the rank of lieutenant during World War I in the western front. In the second Battle of the Marne , he won the First Class Iron Cross . At that time, the commander of the First Guard Infantry Regiment, Count Siegfried von Eulenberg , predicted : “You, Tresckow, will become Chief of Staff of the Army ( Großer Generalstab ) or die on the scaffold by insurrection.”


He took part in the suffocation of the Spartacist movement in January of 1919, but in 1920 resigned to continue in the Army of the Republic of Weimar , Reichswehr , to study and to make race like banker. In 1924, he embarked on a long journey, in which he visited Brazil and the eastern United States, which he had to abandon to take over family possessions. Like many members of the families of the Prussian aristocracy, Tresckow was united by marriage with a family with a long military tradition. In 1926 he married Erika von Falkenhayn, the only daughter of Erich von Falkenhayn , Army Chief of Staff from 1914 to 1916, and returned to the Army.

Opposition to Hitler

Although initially sympathetic to the Nazis over their opposition to the Versailles Treaty , Tresckow condemned the events that occurred in 1934 during Long Knives Night , in which Nazis, military and dissident right-wingers were assassinated on Hitler’s orders . After studying at the Prussian Military Academy , he graduated as the brightest student of the 1936 promotion and was assigned to the first department of the Army General Staff. Studying the possible war scenarios, he appreciated the risks and weaknesses of Hitler’s desire to prepare for a war that began in 1940.

The Blomberg-Fritsch scandal of 1938 finally pushed Tresckow and Hitler away. From that moment he tried to find civilians and soldiers who opposed Hitler, such as Erwin von Witzleben .

Tresckow opposed the German role at the beginning of World War II , but in 1939 he served as chief of staff in an infantry division in the invasion of Poland . He was then a general staff officer under the command of Gerd von Rundstedt and Erich von Manstein in Army Group A , intervening in the invasion of France in the spring of 1940. From 1941 to 1943 he served under the orders of Field Marshal Fedor Von Bock , who was his uncle, and then Field Marshal Günther von Kluge as chief operations officer of the Army Group Center in the Soviet Union . It is in that post where he is aware of the mass murder of Jews by the Einsatzgruppen and the Order of Commissioners . Later it served in front line like commander of an infantry regiment defending the western border of the river Dnieper in Ukraine . At the time of his death he was Chief of Staff of the 2nd Army , in territories of what are now Belarus and Eastern Poland. During his service in World War II, he received the German Gold Cross and other decorations. When he learned that the executions of Jews behind the German lines had already spread to women and children, Tresckow resumed his opposition activity.

Tresckow planned several attempts on Hitler and Himmler but all failed. On 13 March 1943, for example, after the Fuehrer visited the Eastern Front, Tresckow was able to introduce explosives into Hitler’s Focke-Wulf “Condor” . Tresckow asked Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Brandt , who was traveling with the Fuehrer, to take a package to the Wolf ‘s Den for Helmuth Stieff , an officer with whom he had lost a bet. But the bomb did not explode, possibly because the low temperature in the luggage compartment, without heating, prevented the operation of the fuse that triggered the detonator. Tresckow’s cousin, who was his field assistant , Lieutenant Fabian von Schlabrendorff , retrieved the pack to prevent the attempt being made.


After the attack on Hitler, carried out by Claus von Stauffenberg and the failed coup of July 20, 1944 , Tresckow made the decision to commit suicide near the front on 21 July. He pretended that an attack of the partisanos took place and was killed with a hand grenade in Ostrow , near Białystok . He was buried in the family home of Wartenberg. When the Nazis discovered their connection to the conspirators the following month, it was unearthed and cremated in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp . Although his wife and children were arrested at Sippenhaftung , they survived the war. Their descendants live in New York.

As a German Army general during World War II and a member of the German resistance to Nazism and opposed to Hitler , von Tresckow is responsible for some celebrated quotes related to these events.

In the cinema

In the 2008 film Valkyrie , Henning von Tresckow is played by actor Kenneth Branagh . In 2004, Tresckow was incarnated by Ulrich Tukur in the German television series Valkyrie .


  1. Back to top↑ Kershaw, 1999 , pp. 642-643.