During a July 20 meeting in a Wolf’s Lair conference room with Hitler and more than 20 German officers and staff, Stauffenburg planted an explosives-packed briefcase under a table that the Nazi leader was using. Stauffenberg then said he had to make a phone call and left the room. Another officer subsequently happened to move the briefcase out of place, farther away from Hitler. The bomb detonated at 12:42 p.m. One person died instantly as a result of the powerful explosion and three others were mortally wounded; however, Hitler suffered only minor injuries. He was even well enough to keep an appointment with Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) that same afternoon, and gave the Italian dictator a tour of site where the blast occurred.
After the bomb went off, Stauffenberg, believing Hitler was dead, flew to Berlin to initiate Operation Valkyrie, a plan to use Germany’s reserve army to stage an uprising against the Nazi regime. However, with no official confirmation of Hitler’s demise, the plan stalled. When the news came through that Hitler was alive, General Friedrich Fromm (1888-1945), commander of the reserve army and someone who condoned the July Plot, turned on the conspirators in order to have his association with them covered up. Stauffenberg and Olbricht were arrested and executed on July 21.
Hundreds of people thought to be involved in the conspiracy also soon were arrested, and around 200 eventually were executed. Beck was arrested and chose to commit suicide rather than stand trial. Tresckow committed suicide after he learned the July Plot had failed. Erwin Rommel (1891-1944), a highly respected field marshal also linked to the plot, was given the choice of facing trial or committing suicide in order to spare his family. He opted to take his own life. (Because Rommel was a renowned figure, the Nazis covered up the true cause of his death and gave him a state funeral.) Fromm also was executed by firing squad in 1945.