The Stauffenberg plot would have seen Himler into power. He had long been a supporter of making peace. There is an argument he even knew of the plot and kept quiet, because he knew if it succeeded he would come to power and could put an immediate stop to the war.
I think that it is less a question of guts than imagination. Himmler was the supreme bureaucrat and, to be fair, a very capable one at that. He was talking to the allies as early as 1943 (though I think this was part of a back-channel dialogue that had many contributers and had always been in existence) but these discussions, so far as I'm aware, were generally designed with the Fuhrer's knowledge to bring about material resource benefits. The so-called 'sale of Jews' through a British intermediary in Egypt (?) was to provide the Reich with trucks. The discussions were never fully initiated because the British refused to be drawn-in. Himmler was not acting disloyally; rather, there were pragmatic reasons for attempting such a move.
I'm not sure that Himmler would have taken power had Hitler been assassinated (though he does seem to be the most likely figure to do so). The problem with the power structure of the Third Reich was that Hitler was essentially irreplaceable (possibly his greatest achievement). Had he been successfully killed off in 1944, the regime would have collapsed into chaos as the top Nazis all fought between themselves. Had he been assassinated, its not too difficult to imagine the remaining Nazis all blaming each other with arrests and summary executions being a prevalent form of dispute.
Although I have just noted (okay, asserted) above that the Third Reich would've collapsed, this is an intriguing thought. If we consider that Hitler was presented to the German people as a messianic symbol throughout the Nazi era, this idea holds a large degree of cogency. In fact, I think we can safely state that the image of Hitler as the new messiah was quite explicitly proselytised during the years of peace. The mechanics for the diffusion of the symbolic Hitler were in place and brought under the control of the regime. It is clear that the majority of the wider population, whether or not the symbol was inferred or not, did not explicitly respond to this symbol. Instead, Hitler was viewed in peacetime under numerous identities, as Kershaw clearly sets out, but does not at any time appear to have been viewed as a messianic figure by the German majority.
There were few, of course, that did view Hitler as a divine or messianic being. However what is also clear is that as the end of the Third Reich drew ever more obvious, fighting became commensurately fanatical in areas. The conclusion that must be drawn states that, although not explicitly demonstrated in the gathered public opinion statements of the SD and SOPADE etc., there is reason to suggest that the proselytised image of the symbolic Hitler was indeed effectively inculcated to varying degrees by a significant proportion of the population. Certainly, this is true to the extent that Nazi fanaticism was able to unite in a bitter stand against the overwhelming forces of the Allied assault.
As the enemy drew nearer in the closing days of the war, Günter Esdor, member of the Hitler Youth, disposed of all his possessions bearing any sign of Nazism (including an oil painting of Hitler and a copy of Mein Kampf) into a foetid manure pit and “felt like a blasphemer”. He was not alone in this experience of trying to distance one’s self from Hitler,
“Of course, most Germans … mourned the collapse of the Third Reich, that is, as long as they had not been persecuted by the Nazi regime.”
To feel blasphemous, even in an act of self-preservation, signals a raw internalisation of the symbolic messiah. Yet, one isolated case does not create a rule. The creation of such a generalisation becomes a difficult task in the face of the secrecy and hidden complicity forced by the varied intensities of Allied denazification activities. These activities initially targeted the population as a whole and then became more individualistic in their pursuit with ruthless condemnations and a number of executions. The German reaction was equivalent to a closing of the ranks, a retreat into the psychological sphere of the Volksgemeinschaft, and the wholesale production of Persilscheine to ‘wash the Brown Shirt white’ until, as some commentators noted, ‘Hitler must have been the only Nazi in Germany’. This, as noted earlier, suited the German self-image.
The lasting effects of the symbol acceptance are perhaps more plainly discovered in these immediate post-war years than during the period of the Third Reich. Although both sets of evidence are problematic and shrouded in a desire for discretion at source, the post-war Fragebogen present a potentially more accurate survey than the SD or SOPADE spies. The surveyed findings of the Fragebogen pay testament to both the extent of symbol acceptance and internalisation, as well as the apparent failure of Allied Occupation practices. As many as between 47% and 55% of Germans, even in the face of the daily hardships of 1945-1947 (that Allied re-education policy insisted was the responsibility of Hitler), still believed in National Socialism. For these people, National Socialism was a good idea that that been badly managed by the Nazis. Approximately 18% of the population could be judged to be ‘unreconstructed Nazis’. Likewise, the Allensbach Institute surveyed public opinion and found similar Nazism and discreet belief in Hitler. They found variously that Germans still believed Hitler to be the greatest statesman of the twentieth-century (10%), an excellent statesman (22%), the statesman who did most for Germany (10%). There was also a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism and belief, or ‘reaffirmation’ of racial superiority across the period, increasing from about 55-65%. Given the attempted re-education, and later the explicit attempts to compensate Israeli Jews, this also calls to question the lasting extent of the Hitler’s weltanschauung and explicit racism. As Moses Moskowitz suggested in 1946, embittered Jews were haranguing the Germans with accusations of guilt. Outwith the permeated presence of positive memories of Hitler, attention should also be drawn to the significant numbers that consistently failed to comment in the Allensbach surveys. Within the environment of denazification and the occupancy of past ‘enemies’, it seems most likely that a considered response would be likely to elicit a non-Nazi answer, which suggests that the above figures are potentially understated.
Those restored to political prominence in the post-war period presented the symbolic Hitler, both for their own political ends and for the restoration of the German nation. Konrad Adenauer’s projection of National Socialism as a pagan and atheistic construct; in the mind of the Germans, the State became “zu einem fast göttlichen Wesen” (“an almost god-like being”). His antidote was the replacement of one religion with another. Nonetheless, Adenauer’s ‘internal emigration’ allowed him to witness, like Klemperer, the day-to-day evolution of the Third Reich. He stated:
“If broad layers of the German population, peasants, the middle class, workers, and intellectuals had not had the right mentality the victory of National Socialism in 1933, and thereafter, among the German people would not have been possible.”
I think it all depends on when Hitler was assasinated. If Hitler was killed in the begining, perhaps by a smart young man who saw what horrors were inside Hitler's head, the NAZI party may have never taken off. This isn't to say world war two wouldn't happen, however. World war two was almost forced to happen by the unfair oppression of Germany after world war one. But with the killing of Hitler when he first took leadership of the NAZI party, a different party would have taken over and possibly start world war two.
Now if Hitler was assainated after the blitzkrieg on Poland, the war may have taken a different course. If Himmler had the guts to kill or have someone else kill Hilter (which I doubt), I'm not too sure he would take over leadership of Germany. With the Führer gone, many men formerly below Hitler would jump for the chance, and may have been more aggressive than Himmler.
If Hitler was killed after the occupation of France, we might see a different end to the war, depending on who took over afterwords. If a strong leader who was somewhat intelligent in military stratagey, the battles in Africa may have gone differently. Assuming that Rommel liked the new leader (and thus was not forced to commit suicide for betraying Hitler), Rommel may have been given the equipment and oil he needed (as well as men) to assert control over Afrika, he may have been able to keep Paton and Montgomery away and reach the oil rich fields of the middle-east, which would have furthered the German war machine in the western front.
Now if Hitler was assasinated right before Barbarossa, the start of the invasion of the Soviet Union, a new leader may have looked at history (Napoleon)and said, maybe we should stay friends with this one. Although it is difficult to say, if the eastern front wasn't opened, the war may have lasted many more years, and who knows the map may be different than today.
If Hitler was killed near the end of the war, say when D-day occured, there wouldn't be too much of a difference. By this time it was too late for Germany, and saddness for the fallen Führer would not cause the army to re-energize, as Avon said above. But before the D-day invasion, I would say that the fall of the Führer would have caused an explosion of nationalism and a desire to fulfill Hitler's vision of a huge German Empire. This may also mean that the assassin of Hitler wouldn't have been acceped as the new leader of Germany, he may have been thrown in jail.
I think it all depends on when Hitler was assasinated. If Hitler was killed in the begining, perhaps by a smart young man who saw what horrors were inside Hitler's head, the NAZI party may have never taken off.
Your rejection of a time-locked generalisation is quite correct.
If think you are entirely correct in saying that had Hitler been assassinated early on (during the 1920s?) the NSDAP would not have come to power. (The flaw in this argument might be that there were capable men in the Party who were ejected (or shot) during the 'struggle for power' (the Strasser brothers come to mind here).) From what I am able to discern, it was Hitler that brought the Nazis to power and Hitler alone. Polling for the 1932 presidential elections, the NSDAP found that Hitler’s face and name on a poster were sufficient in themselves for voter recognition, thus, Hitler’s image served powerfully as an initial symbol of the Nazi ideology and policy.
As a necessary form of ideological representation and reinforcement, the Nazis harnessed the power of representational symbolism and ritual. ‘Nazi ideology’, through the means of symbol and ritual, became ‘Nazi theology’ with Hitler presented as a deity through ritualised political statements in the form of celebrations. Utilising instruments of mass suggestion, reality became mystified on a grand scale. Thus the presentation of Hitler, as a symbol to the German nation, in many ways explains this hold over the German people. Even after Hitler’s suicide and the total collapse of the regime in April and May 1945, the symbolic Hitler achieved its own Götterdämmerung. Under the auspices of the occupying Allies, the IMT and coexistent processes of denazification continued to present a symbolic Hitler – if only in a transmogrified state – which contended with Nazi representations for a place in German memory.
[If someone could tell me how to show pictures in my posts, I have a nice example of what I mean.]
What I do is first take the image I want and copy-past it to the file "my pictures". Then I simply copy the image again (right click the mouse and click "copy") and past to the post, I don't really bother with the
Also you can click the "manage attachments" button, on the additonal options menue (under submit reply). you click the manage attachments and enter the URL or pick the pic from your "my pictures" file.