Movies: Valkyrie

What a powerful movie!

Both the movie and the recommendation to watch it came from one of my husband’s co-workers. He is a WWII history buff, and assured us that Valkyrie is quite faithful to history. I found out from imdb.com that there are some factual inaccuracies, particularly in the kind of airplanes that were used (in some cases because there simply are no examples left of the planes actually used), but that hardly detracts from one’s appreciation of the movie – unless perhaps you are an expert in military aviation.

I knew that there had been attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and that Dietrich Bonhoeffer had been involved such plotting, and was hanged for it shortly before the fall of Berlin. But I had never realized just how many people, especially senior military officers, had been working to overthrow Hitler, or how many attempts had been made to kill him. A note at the end of Valkyrie says that the July 20 attempt was the last of fifteen attempts, but according to the “Goofs” section at imdb.com, there were actually 42 known assassination attempts.

I think this movie would have been a riveting story even if it were fiction, but knowing that it is based on history makes it all the more impressive. We know the outcome, of course – Hitler committed suicide at the end of the war, so the assassination attempt must have failed. But the movie nevertheless maintains a surprising level of suspense. Will the plotters at least escape with their lives? Will Colonel Stauffenberg go home to his pregnant wife and his children?

As happened with the book about mountain-climber George Mallory, this movie left me wanting to know more about Claus von Stauffenberg and the German Resistance movement. Fortunately there have been many books written on the subject (our local library has two just on Stauffenberg), so I will be reading up on this subject in the coming weeks.

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