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Anti-Hitler plot officers honoured

Germany has honoured a group of Nazi-era officers who tried to kill Adolf Hitler 70 years ago.

The plot, portrayed in films such as Valkyrie, helped establish a principle under which German soldiers are encouraged to defy orders if they would result in a crime or violate human dignity.

In a sombre ceremony in Berlin, German president Joachim Gauck called the bombing of Hitler's Wolf's Lair headquarters in Eastern Prussia on July 20 1944 a "significant day in German history" for showing the world that there were Germans who opposed the Nazi regime.

"It was from this legacy that the newly founded Federal Republic, once it belatedly recognized the significance of the military resistance, was able to draw legitimacy," Mr Gauck said.

Hitler survived the bombing and was able to continue his military campaign to conquer Europe and eradicate the continent's Jewish population for another year.

Four officers, including Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, were executed without trial within hours of the failed assassination. Some 200 supporters were killed later or driven to suicide.

While the July 20 conspirators were among the most prominent examples of German resistance against the Nazis, historians have sought in recent years to highlight other, lesser-known men and women who opposed the regime.

"Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg has become a symbol of the resistance. The broader public hardly knows the names of the many others," said Linda von Keyserlingk, a historian at Germany's Military History Museum in Dresden, which recently opened a new exhibition about the July 20 plot.

Earlier this month, Germany's foreign ministry honoured Ilse Stoebe, who worked at the ministry during the war and tried to warn the Soviet Union of Hitler's plans to attack it. She was executed in 1942.

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