Open main menu

Werner Karl Otto Theodor von Haeften (9 October 1908 – 21 July 1944[1]) was an Oberleutnant in the Wehrmacht who took part in the military-based conspiracy against Adolf Hitler known as the 20 July plot.

Werner von Haeften
Bundesarchiv Bild 146III-347, Werner Karl v. Haeften.jpg
Born(1908-10-09)9 October 1908
Berlin, German Empire
Died21 July 1944(1944-07-21) (aged 35)
Berlin, Nazi Germany
52°30′28″N 13°21′44″E / 52.507892°N 13.36219°E / 52.507892; 13.36219 (Execution Site of Nazi Germany Resistance)
Allegiance Nazi Germany (to 1943)
German resistance (to 1944)
Years of service1939–1944
RankOberleutnant Epaulette.jpg Oberleutnant
Battles/warsWorld War II
RelationsWalther von Brauchitsch (uncle)
Hans Bernd von Haeften (brother)


Early lifeEdit

Haeften and his brother Hans were born in Berlin, the sons of Hans von Haeften, an army officer and President of the Reichsarchiv (German National Archives). He studied law in his home town and then worked for a bank in Hamburg until the outbreak of the Second World War when he joined the German Army.

War serviceEdit

In 1943, having recovered from a severe wound he had suffered on the Eastern Front, Haeften became adjutant to Oberst Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, one of the leading figures in the German Resistance.

On 20 July 1944, Haeften accompanied Stauffenberg to the military high command of the Wehrmacht near Rastenburg, East Prussia (now Kętrzyn, in Poland), where Stauffenberg planted a briefcase bomb in a conference room at Hitler's Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) headquarters. After the detonation, Stauffenberg and Haeften rushed to Berlin and, not knowing that Hitler had survived the explosion, attempted to launch the long-planned coup d'état, which would swiftly fail.

Memorial to von Haeften and four other conspirators at Bendlerblock.

On the same day, Haeften, along with Stauffenberg and fellow conspirators General Friedrich Olbricht and Oberst Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, was arrested after a summary court martial and sentenced to death by General Friedrich Fromm, who was himself later arrested and executed by the Nazi regime for his tacit complicity. All four plotters were shot after midnight by a ten-man firing squad from the Grossdeutschland Guards Battalion in the courtyard of the War Ministry, the Bendlerblock.[2] When Stauffenberg was about to be shot, in a last gesture of loyalty and defiance, Haeften placed himself in the path of the bullets meant for Stauffenberg.[3]

Haeften's brother Hans Bernd von Haeften, who had also been involved in the anti-Hitler plot, was executed on 15 August at Plötzensee Prison.

Film portrayalEdit

In the Eastern Bloc co-production Liberation: Direction of the Main Blow (1971), Haeften was depicted by the East German actor Hans-Edgar Stecher. In the German production Stauffenberg (2004), his part was played by the actor Hardy Krüger, Jr., and in the film Valkyrie (2008) he was represented by the British actor Jamie Parker.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ (Fest, 1996) pp. 277–278 puts the date of the four executions as "after midnight" and so Werner's death was on 21 July.
  2. ^ (Moorhouse, 2006) p. 207
  3. ^ (Fest, 1996) p. 278


  • Fest, Joachim (1996), Plotting Hitler's Death (translation of 'Staatsstreich: Der lange Weg zum 20 Juli'), Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-81774-4
  • Moorhouse, Roger (2006), Killing Hitler, Jonathan Cape, ISBN 0-224-07121-1

External linksEdit

  • film and TV matches for Werner von Haeften