Claus von Stauffenberg, Hitler and the Catholic Faith. Thoughts for VE Day 2009

Tom Cruise's film 'Valkyrie' about the failed assasination attempt on Hitler by Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg was, according to critics, a film about Cruise trying to kill Hitler, rather than about Stauffenberg trying to kill Hitler. But it was a great movie, nonetheless, according to one of my pupils who really enjoyed it.

The media was fascinated by the Stauffenberg family's criticism of the casting of Cruise as Stauffenberg, lest this would be used as a platform for promoting Scientology. The Stauffenbergs are staunch Catholics. The German state also attempted to ban the film, because Scientology is (quite sensibly) considered a ridiculous financial scam in Germany. In the end the film was shown, and it reflected well on Germany and Germans as a whole, though it amost totally omitted mention of Stauffenberg's Catholicism, except for one quick prayer.

In the recent Figaro special edition « OpĆ©ration Walkyrie. Ils ont voulu tuer Hitler », Jean-Louis ThiĆ©riot gives more detail: « In his youth Stauffenberg had been a Catholic by habit. Confronted with the horror of nazism, he returns to his religious upbringing. He consults good authors. His reflections on the idea of the just war are informed by a reading of St Thomas Aquinas.». Philippe Maxence, in L'Homme Nouveau, explains, in an article dedicated to the Catholic-inspired plot, that Stauffenberg had given a lot of thought to the morality of tyrannicide : killing a tryant.

The Gestapo also found in his papers the papal encylical Mit Brennender Sorge as well as the sermons of Bishop Clemens August von Galen, Bishop of Munster, indefatigable opponent of Nazism, and recent Beatus.

Another recent film, Katyn, directed by Andrzej Wajda tells the tale of the massacre of 21,857 civilian and military prisoners by the Russian Red Army. Interestingly, Article 9 of the French Law of 14 July 1990 (still in force) forbids me to tell you about this film, because it goes against the judgements of the Nuremberg trials. At Nuremberg the Germans were blamed for this massacre, but now the Russians have admitted it was them and apologised for it (on 13th October 1990).


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