Carpenter who tried to kill Hitler to get memorial

Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:08am EDT
 
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A carpenter who tried to kill Adolf Hitler and paid with his life will soon be honored with a memorial in Berlin, over 70 years after his bomb failed to stop the Nazi dictator.

The city state of Berlin has unveiled plans to erect next year a steel silhouette of the face of Georg Elser rising to a height of 17 meters in the central Mitte district, on the street which was once home to Hitler's imposing chancellery.

"Honouring Georg Elser near the Third Reich's center of power is an act of dignity and represents a late triumph," said Berlin's state secretary of culture, Andre Schmitz.

Elser concealed a bomb inside a pillar he had hollowed out in a Munich beer hall where Hitler was due to speak on November 8, 1939 -- the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch in which the Austrian-born Fuehrer first tried to seize power.

But because it was foggy, Hitler took the train back to Berlin instead of flying, meaning he had to leave the beer hall early -- 13 minutes before the bomb Elser had planted exploded.

Elser was arrested at the Swiss border the same evening, put in a concentration camp, and finally murdered in Dachau on April 9, 1945, just weeks before the end of World War Two.

Berlin artist Ulrich Klages designed the monument as part of a European-wide competition called "Memorial in Berlin for the Hitler Assassin," which he won.

The memorial is due to be unveiled on November 8, 2011, the 72nd anniversary of the assassination attempt.

(Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Steve Addison)