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Britain turned down suicide-bomber attack on Hitler

By See-Dubya  •  January 10, 2007 01:01 PM

There was one of the sequels to The Dirty Dozen–I forget which one, but it wasn’t very good–in which the Dozen were sent into Germany in order to kill an SS Major in order to keep him from killing Hitler. The theory was that since Hitler’s crazy-evil leadership was hampering the German war effort, it was in the Allies’ interest to keep him alive and not let someone more competent take over.

Sounds far-fetched, but the Times of London suggests that may be the reasoning behind a real-life decision by the Brits not to promote a suicide mission to kill Hitler by a safecracker and explosives expert named Eddie Chapman. Chapman had been sprung from prison in the Jersey Islands by the Germans, who recruited him as a spy. Chapman promptly defected to MI5 and volunteered to use the trust of his German spymasters to get close to Hitler and blow him up. Instead, he went back and served out the war as a double agent working for England, but so convincing that the Germans gave him an Iron Cross.

Other reasons the Brits may not have signed off on the project included a distrust of Chapman’s criminal past, and also a fear of Nazi reprisals against civilians–as happened after the assassination of Gestapo demon Reinhard Heydrich, about which I have some thoughts here.

Like Kubis and Gabcik, whom I talk about there, Eddie Chapman’s bravery ought to make him a household name today. But hell, there are thousands of heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan right now whose names out to be commonplace. I am deeply ashamed that I know very few of them, but I hope history will correct the record.

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