Ludwig Beck

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Ludwig Beck (1880-1944) rose to Generaloberst in the Imperial, Weimar, and Nazi German Army. Promoted from Adjutant General, he became Army Chief of Staff in 1933 with the rise of the Nazis but resigned in 1938 over the plan to annex Czechoslovakia. He committed suicide after the failure of the 1944 assassination attempt against Hitler.

It is a lack of character and insight, when a soldier in high command sees his duty and mission only in the context of his military orders without realizing that the highest responsibility is to the people of his country — Ludwig Beck

He was an officer in the First World War, serving in staff and command assignments on the Western Front.

Between the wars, he commanded artillery units and wrote military doctrine, and served in the Truppenamt, the clandestine general staff forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles.

German Resistance

He tried to organize a coup against Hitler if Czechoslovakia was to be invaded. After his resignation, partially for sending Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin to Neville Chamberlain, suggesting he would block an invasion of Czechoslovakia, he toured Europe, speaking against the Nazis to national leaders.

In 1940, he discussed assassinating Hitler with Carl Goerdeler, and plotted with Wilhelm Canaris, Hans Oster and Ulrich von Hassell.

20th of July Plot

When the bomb went off in Hitler's headquarters, he was part of the command team waiting at the Reserve Army headquarters in the Bendlerstrasse. The conspirators planned to install him as chief of state.

Reserve Army head Gen. Friedrich Fromm, who Beck had commanded, intended to send Beck to a summary firing squad with Claus von Stauffenberg and three other key figures with detailed knowledge. Beck, speaking of old times, asked to be permitted to commit suicide. He attempted to shoot himself twice, but not fatally; Fromm ordered a sergeant to kill him.