Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

The Failed Attempt to Assassinate Hitler

Holocaust survivor Henry Wermuth’s story, as told by his daughter, recalls his attempt to kill the Nazi dictator

By: Daniel Koren

Published: June 2nd, 2014 in News » World

The Failed Attempt to Assassinate Hitler

In an article published over the weekend by the Daily Mail, Ilana Wetzger, daughter of Holocaust survivor Henry Wermuth, recalls her father’s attempt to murder the infamous Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Of course, he had not succeeded on that fateful day, but had he, it could have completely altered the face of history as we know it.

According to Wetzger’s story, Wermuth was 19 years old when he was an inmate at a Polish labor camp in 1942, alongside his father.

Wermuth’s mother and sister were separated from them before they were deported from Frankfurt, and murdered during the Shoah, though Wermuth never found out how.

Imprisoned at Klaj ammunition camp in Poland, Wermuth managed to befriend a resentful German soldier who wanted retribution against the infamous Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

The soldier told Wermuth that Hitler was to pass through the tiny Polish village on train. Hitler was bound for Russia, to visit German troops after they were defeated in Stalingrad.

The camp Wermuth was detained in was not maximum security, like Auschwitz or Dachau, and he managed to break out and escape into the woods, making his way to the train tracks.

There, he piled a bunch of logs and stones onto the tracks, hoping to derail the train, and murder all that dwelled within it.

The following day, Wermuth was able to get close to the train and managed to catch a glimpse of Hitler. He waited anxiously for the sounds of a crash, or for word of Hitler’s assassination, but sadly it never came.

Eventually, he returned to the camp, as he was afraid that he would be caught, and told his father of his ploy, who scolded him, as it could have got them both killed.

He never found out how or why his plan didn’t work; maybe a guard saw the obstacle and moved it, maybe the train took a different route.

Mr Wermuth, pictured with his daughter Ilana Metzger, is now 91-years-old and lives in north west London

Henry Wermuth and his daughter, Ilana Metzger

“A train passed with three wagons, and in the window was a man who I recognized by the mustache as Hitler,” Wermuth said in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle last year. “I stood there mesmerized, waiting for the crash, but it never came. Either a local farmer or someone patrolling must have removed the logs.”

Wermuth, who would have changed the face of German history that day, managed to survive through eight concentration camps, including Auschwitz. He also managed to survive a shooting attempt by SS commandment Amon Goeth (depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List) at Krakow-Plaszow.

Wermuth was at Mauthausen concentration camp when the Americans liberated it in May 1945. He weighed just 72 pounds. His father had died of a head wound, just days before liberation.

Today, Wermuth is a 91-year-old respected author in London.

He was awarded for his assassination attempt by the German government in 1995.

“At the time, they would have shot me on the spot – now they say I am a hero,” he said regarding the award. “It is funny how time changes things.”

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