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During World War II Operation Foxley was a 1944 plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler, conceived by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). Although detailed preparations were made, no attempt was made to carry out the plan. Historians believe the most likely date for an attempt would have been 13–14 July 1944, during one of Hitler's visits to the Berghof.
One of the first actual British plans to assassinate Hitler was to bomb the special train "Amerika" (in 1943 renamed "Brandenburg") he travelled in; SOE had extensive experience of derailing trains using explosives. The plan was dropped because Hitler's schedule was too irregular and unpredictable: stations were informed of his arrival only a few minutes beforehand.
Another plan was to put some tasteless but lethal poison in the drinking water supply on Hitler's train. However, this plan was considered too complicated because of the need for an inside man.
Sniper attack planEdit
Ultimately a sniper attack was considered to be the method most likely to succeed. In Summer 1944, a German who had been part of Hitler's personal guard at the Berghof had been taken prisoner in Normandy. He revealed that at the Berghof, Hitler always took a 20-minute morning walk at around the same time (after 10:00). Hitler liked to be left alone during this walk, leaving him unprotected near some woods, where he was out of sight of sentry posts. When Hitler was at the Berghof, a Nazi flag visible from a cafe in the nearby town was flown.
The basic plan was to assassinate Hitler during his morning exercise, as he walked unprotected to the Teehaus on the Mooslahnerkopf Hill from the Berghof residence. The scheme called for the SOE to parachute a German-speaking Pole and a British sniper into Austria. An "inside man" was recruited: the uncle of a prisoner of war named Dieser, who was a shopkeeper living in nearby (20 km) Salzburg, identified as "Heidentaler", who was vehemently anti-Nazi. Heidentaler would shelter the agents and then transport them to Berchtesgaden disguised as German mountain troops. Later, they would make the approach to the vantage point disguised as German mountain troops.
A sniper was recruited and briefed, and the plan was submitted. The sniper practised by firing at moving dummy targets with an accurized Kar 98k with a Mauser telescopic sight, the standard rifle of the Wehrmacht, under conditions which simulated the actual assassination. Additionally, a 9mm parabellum Luger pistol fitted with a British-made suppressor was provided, so the sniper could quietly deal with any problems during their approach to the target. The suppressed Luger is now on display at the Combined Military Services Museum in Maldon, Essex.
There had been some resistance to the assassination plan, particularly from the deputy head of SOE's German Directorate, Lt Col Ronald Thornley. However, his superior, Sir Gerald Templer, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill supported the plan.
The plan was submitted in November 1944, but was never carried out because controversy remained over whether it was actually a prudent idea to kill Hitler: he was by then considered to be such a poor strategist that it was believed whoever replaced him would probably do a better job of fighting the Allies. Thornley also argued that Germany was almost defeated and, if Hitler were assassinated, he would become a martyr to some Germans, and possibly give rise to a myth that Germany might have won if Hitler had survived. Since the idea was not only to defeat Germany but to destroy Nazism in general, that would have been a highly undesirable development.
There were strong advocates on both sides, and the plan never became operational simply because no actual decision was reached, partly because of a lack of intelligence as to Hitler's daily routine. In any event, Hitler left the Berghof for the last time on 14 July 1944, never to return, and committed suicide in Berlin on 30 April 1945, a few days before the war in Europe ended.
- Spillett, Richard (April 16, 2014). "The pistol which could have killed Hitler: British secret service assassination plot gun to go on display". Daily Mail. Retrieved June 29, 2014.