On July 20, 1944 – 73 years ago today – Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg carried out a plot to assassinate Hitler with a bomb. The attack failed and Stauffenberg along with several dozen military and conservative elites involved were arrested, tortured and executed.
Since WWII, the bomb plot has been an important part of Germany’s political culture – Stauffenberg and the plotters are seen as evidence that not all Germans supported the Nazis and that within the elite there were still men who represented the traditional values of the nation and were willing to die for this. This interpretation is contested, but within the public sphere, commemoration of the plotters and their efforts is a touchstone of mainstream German politics.
All of this makes it puzzling that the flag of the conservative anti-Hitler resistance has become a symbol of the far right in recent years.
The Wirmer flag was designed by Josef Wirmer as the flag for the new Germany in 1944. Wirmer was a lawyer who had worked in the social left-wing of the Catholic Center Party before the Nazi seizure of power. The flag combined the red, black, gold of the Weimar (and modern) German flag along with the cross to emphasize the importance of Christianity. Wirmer himself was executed in September 1944 in connection with the July 20th plot.