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Exhibition on Georg Elser

The International Tracing Service (ITS) opened an exhibit on Georg Elser yesterday evening in Bad Arolsen. On 8 November 1939, Elser had wanted to prevent the expansion of the war begun by Germany by assassinating its dictator Adolf Hitler in Munich. “He could have looked away like millions of others. Yet Elser didn’t,” said Susanne Urban, head of the research department at ITS. “He had no political party backing him, no ideology and no church. He wanted to stop Nazi Germany all on his own.” The exhibition entitled “I wanted to prevent the war” features 29 displays and will run through 27 May 2011.

Elser had planned his coup since the autumn of 1938. He knew that Hitler spoke each year at the Burgerbraukeller in Munich on 8 November, the anniversary of his attempted putsch in 1923. A carpenter by trade, Elser gained access to the hall where he worked for nights on the installation of an explosive device with a time fuse. “Elser’s independent character helped him recognise the injustice and tyranny of National Socialism,” said Urban. “Anyone could put up resistance.” Hitler left the assembly room a few minutes prior to the explosion, thus escaping the attack.

An hour prior to the explosion while on the run to Switzerland, Elser was detained in Konstanz and handed over to the Gestapo due to suspicious bag contents. Some days later after lengthy interrogations, he confessed to the assassination attempt. He was imprisoned in total isolation for five years at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The Nazis shot and killed him at Dachau on 9 April 1945. “It is important that we give these events a face,” said Bad Arolsen’s Mayor Jurgen van der Horst at the exhibition's opening ceremony. “As a trustee of the most significant archive on Nazi persecution, ITS is making a contribution to commemorative work with its series of exhibitions.”

Privately owned photographs showing Georg Elser throughout different phases of his life can also be seen at the exhibit. A focus was placed on his plans for the coup, as well as his imprisonment and the way his assassination attempt was portrayed after 1945: Elser was often slandered as a marionette for various contractors. Today his sole perpetration and political-moral motivation can no longer be questioned. The documentation from the German Resistance Memorial Center Berlin and Baden Wuerttemberg State Agency for Political Education was made possible with funding from the State Foundation of Baden Wuerttemberg.

“I wanted to prevent the war”
Georg Elser and his assassination attempt on 8 November 1939
Duration of exhibit: 11 March through 27 May 2011
Location: International Tracing Service, Schlossstraße 10, 34454 Bad Arolsen, Germany
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 9 to 4:30,
Saturday, 9 April and 30 April from 10 to 2
Admission is free.

Guided tours by appointment.
Telephone reservations with ITS: +49(0)5691 629 -159 or email its@its-arolsen.org

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