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Munich, Germany

Georg Elser Plaque

A small square plaque marks a failed assassination attempt that could have changed history. 

Shortly after Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, and almost five years before the famed July 20th assassination plot at the Wolf’s Lair, a lowly carpenter named Georg Elser came within minutes of successfully assassinating Adolf Hitler. The plot was not the work of a spontaneous lunatic, but rather, a carefully planned, nearly year long endeavor.

On November 8, 1923 Hitler launched his famously failed Beer Hall Putsch at Bürgerbräukeller in Munich, Germany. Although the coup failed, Hitler was nonetheless able to seize power in 1933, leading Nazi Germany on a path to war. Every year thereafter, Hitler commemorated the anniversary of the failed Beer Hall Putsch with a speech at the Bürgerbräukeller beer hall. With this knowledge, Elser was determined to assassinate Hitler during his 1939 speech. Although Elser had little interest in politics, he had nonetheless become disillusioned by how Nazi polices were affecting ordinary German citizens.

Over the course of a year, Elser carefully and methodically constructed a time bomb and concealed it inside one of the beer hall pillars. The bomb was precisely set to go off during Hitler’s November 8, 1939 speech. Elser’s bomb exploded as planned killing eight people and injuring 57 others. Unfortunately for history, Hitler had cut his 1939 speech several minutes short and by the time the bomb exploded, Hitler was already boarding his train. Elser was arrested and imprisoned for more than five years before he was eventually executed shortly before the end of World War 2.

The Bürgerbräukeller was demolished in 1979 and several other buildings now stand on the former site. Today, a small square plaque set among the paving stones marks the position of the pillar where Georg Elser planted his bomb in his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. It’s an interesting monument when one considers it commemorates one man’s failed attempt to kill another man. Nonetheless, one can’t help but wonder how the course of history would have been altered if Elser had succeeded.