The Oster Conspiracy of 1938

The Oster Conspiracy of 1938

The Unknown Story of the Military Plot to Kill Hitler and Avert World War II

By Terry M. Parssinen

HarperCollins Publishers, Hardcover, 9780060195878, 256pp.

Publication Date: April 1, 2003


The fascinating but little-known true story of an aborted coup to eliminate Hitler, led by Lieutenant Colonel Hans Oster of German Military Intelligence

In September 1938, Hitler had been in power for more than five years and had unilaterally dismantled the Treaty of Versailles, provision by provision, daring Britain and France to stand up to him. Earlier that year he had forced Austria into his Third Reich without firing a single shot. Now his sights were set on Czechoslovakia.

It was in this dangerous climate that the first anti-Nazi coup was born. The plot was spearheaded by Oster, and its members included top German military leaders, the Berlin police, local troop commanders, civil authorities, religious leaders, and a group of resisters whose names have somehow been wiped from the pages of history. Their mission was to kill Hitler and to overthrow the Nazi regime.

Historian Terry Parssinen, using British and German sources and previously unknown documents in the Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College, has documented the fast-paced story of this developing conspiracy. Revelatory, peopled with a rich cast of characters, and highly provocative, this is narrative history at its best. The author assesses the plot's chances for success and speculates about the consequences if the conspirators had been able to seize power in Berlin in 1938, thus averting World War II.