December 6, 2011

Secret Polish Forces of WW2: The "Silent & Dark Ones" PART II: MISSIONS Operation Foxley

Winston Churchill

In November 1944, the British SOE devised the plan for the assassination of Adolph Hitler, though it was never carried out. Apparently there was considerable resistance to the plan, in particular by the deputy head of SOE's German Directorate, Lt. Col. Ronald Thornley, although his superiors, Sir Gerald Templer and Prime Minister Churchill both supported it wholeheartedly.

Sir Gerald Templar
The method chosen and most likely to have succeeded had the plan gone forward, would have been a sniper attack at Hitler's compound in Berghof. According to information given by a German prisoner (who had been a member of Hitler's personal guard at Berghof), Hitler took daily, solitary walks near the woods, and always at the same time - 10:00 a.m. During these moments he was not visible from the sentry posts, thus providing a perfect opportunity for a sniper to get a clean and easy shot. Whenever Hitler was present at Berghof the Nazi flag was raised and could clearly be seen from a cafe in the nearby town.

The plan called for two SOE paratroops (a British sniper, and a German-speaking Pole) disguised in German army uniforms to parachute to landing targets in the surrounding area and position themselves within the compound. In preparation for the mission a sniper was assigned to practice sessions firing at moving dummy targets using the standard Wehrmacht rifle, the accurized Kar 98K.

Hitler's retreat at Berghof
KAR98k German sniper rifle with scope

The KAR98k was one of the most effective sniper weapons of the German Wehrmacht. It was a 7.92mm bolt-action rifle with 4x power sniper scope (an improvement over previous models.) It had a range of 1000 yards, although the 5-round magazine had to be loaded a round at a time.

The SOE had the good fortunate to have found a reliable inside man, Heidentaler, a German who lived in Salzburg, Austria, only 20 kilometres from Berghof. Heidentaler was vehemently anti-Nazi, and regularly visited the shooting range with other like-minded shopkeepers.

Hitler talking walk at Berghof compound

Operation Foxley had all the earmarks for success
but was scrapped by British authorities.

The British came up with variety of excuses to call off the Operation. In 1944 Hitler had already proven himself to be a poor military strategist. The British feared the consequences of Hitler's assassination, that is, his successor might very well possess superior military leadership skills that would pose an even greater threat to the allies. Thornley's reason to oppose the plan was that the assassination of Hitler would have made him a martyr and thereby fan the flames of Nazism.


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