Ludwig Beck

Ludwig Beck

Ludwig Beck was born in Biebrich, Germany, on 29th June, 1880. He joined the German Army and by 1933 became Adjutant General of the army. Two years later he was promoted chief of general staff.

Beck opposed attempts by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party to takeover the army. In 1938 he sent an emissary to London in an attempt to get Neville Chamberlain to promise military action if Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.

When Adolf Hitler discovered that Beck as plotting against the regime and he was removed from office. Replaced by Franz Halder, Beck continued to work closely with other opponents of Hitler including Carl Goerdeler, Wilhelm Canaris, Hans Oster and Ulrich Hassell.

In the early months of 1944 Beck approached Erwin Rommel about joining the July Plot. Rommel refused, criticizing the tactic of assassination claiming that it would turn Adolf Hitler into a martyr. Instead he suggested that he should be arrested and brought to trial.

Suspected in being involved in the July Plot, Beck was arrested by on 20th July, 1944. General Erich Fromm took him into custody and demanded that he commit suicide. He succeeded only in severely wounding himself and a sergeant finished the job by shooting him in the back of the neck.

Primary Sources

(1) Anthony Eden, Memoirs: The Reckoning (1965)

Dr. George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, had lectured in Sweden during May and June, 1942, under the auspices of the Ministry of Information. On his return the Bishop asked to see me, which he did on June 30th. He told me that two anti-Nazi German Protestant clergymen had come to Sweden to meet him. The Bishop left a memorandum with me reporting in detail what the German clerics proposed. This showed that the group they represented intended to overthrow the existing rulers, who were to be replaced by anti-Nazi members of the army and administration, former trade union leaders and churchmen. The Allies were invited to announce that, once Hitler was overthrown, they were prepared to negotiate with another Government. The names of General Ludwig Beck, Chief of Staff until 1938, Herr Karl Goerdeler, Mayor of Leipzig, and other notable figures were given as deeply involved in the movement.