Reflections on 20 July


German Wound Badges awarded solders hurt in the July 20, 1944 explosion meant to kill Hitler.
I was looking at the calendar as I went to write this week and I keep wondering why 20 July seemed like a significant date. Now if you are a relatively serious militaria collector you are going “Dah!” But to most people it probably will not ring a bell. In the collecting world one of the most elusive of all collectables is a German wound badge dated “20 July 1944.” As a rule, German wound badges were not dated, however, a run of about a hundred badges were made with this and a facsimile of Hitler’s signature on the obverse. This run was made for him to award to the soldiers wounded in this closest to successful attempt on his life. I guess the intent was to reward those who were loyal and willing to continue to stand, quite literally, close to Hitler. I like to think of it as a commemorative to the “so close” attempt on his life. 
This nearly successful assassination of the evil one was refreshed to the general population in the recent film “Valkyrie” starring Tom Cruise.Although the attempt failed, it was such a large scale endeavor it could not be covered up. This should have been a wakeup call for all of German to rise up and stop the madness, but it was not. Furthermore the paranoid witch hunt that followed probably eliminated any other organized plans in their infancy.
I would however, like to acknowledge the unbridled hutzpah of the soldiers like Col. Klaus Von Stauffenberg. He and his cronies knew that they, as Ben Franklin said, “Must hang together or they shall surely hang separately.” Will they did hang together, but they were also hung separately.  In the end over two hundred people were implicated. They knew the risk, and it was a big risk, but they took it anyway. What balls! 
Now don’t start to think that I am a German-o-phile.  “Andringa” comes from Friesland in the Netherlands. The Hollanders in my family may have forgiven the Germans for the War, but they have not forgotten. Moreover, the miracle that Nina Von Stauffenberg and Lucy Rommel and their children survived the war, I do not credit to someone’s humanity, but to Devine Intervention.
I started this week’s article thinking that for once I wouldn’t write something controversial, just some of, what my wife refers to as, and “Eric’s useless trivia.” I am sure that someone will take offense, but none is intended.  As a footnote, if you ever happen on to a World War II German Wound Badge with 20 July 1944 on it, beware. For every real one out there, there is literally a thousand reproductions-honest.
Not to be overlooked, 20 July 1969, was the date of the first moon landing, a “Giant leap for mankind.”
Respectfully submitted,
Eric J. Andringa


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