Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, the “last Hitler plotter,” has died at the age of 90.
Von Kleist was the last surviving Hitler plotter at the time of his death, just 22 at the time he became involved in the scheme to take down the Third Reich. Son of an early opponent of Adolf Hitler, Ewald von Kleist, the younger von Kleist took up arms against the Nazi regime in 1940, only to be wounded in 1943.
As he healed from his injuries, the last Hitler plotter was approached by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who was arranging a plot to take out the Nazi leader in January of 1944.
Many years later, Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist recalled telling the elder von Kleist that he had volunteered to not only involve himself in the dangerous plot to take Hitler down, but also to wear an explosive vest in order to complete the plan. He says his father ultimately agreed the potential sacrifice was necessary, and the last surviving Hitler plotter says his father replied:
“Yes, you have to do this … Fathers love their sons and mine certainly did, and I had been quite sure he would say no. But, as always, I had underestimated him.”
The plot to kill Hitler ultimately failed — as portrayed in the Tom Cruise film Valkyrie, where Cruise played Col. von Stauffenberg — and the elder von Kleist among others involved were executed in the aftermath. Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist was remanded to a concentration camp, but later released for unknown reasons.
As news of the last Hitler plotter’s death was reported, Sen. John McCain said of von Kleist:
“I learned a great deal over the years from Ewald’s wise counsel and statesmanship. I enjoyed the great pleasure of his company and the privilege of his friendship, for which I will always be grateful.”
Von Kleist died on March 8.