|Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim|
Albrecht Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim
25 March 1905|
Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
|Died||21 July 1944
Berlin, Nazi Germany
|Allegiance|| Weimar Germany
|Years of service||1923–1944|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Von Quirnheim was born in Munich, Bavaria, to Hermann Ritter Mertz von Quirnheim, a captain on the Bavarian General Staff. He spent his youth in the Bavarian capital before his father became head of the Imperial Archive (the Reichsarchiv) and the family moved to Potsdam. As a child he befriended Hans-Jürgen von Blumenthal and as a young man came to know the brothers Werner von Haeften and Hans Bernd von Haeften, through family connections; these were all future fellow-conspirators.
On the outbreak of World War II, von Quirnheim was appointed Staff Officer at the General Staff's organisational division. He had initially welcomed Hitler's seizure of power, but began to distance himself from the régime as he became more aware of its brutality. In 1941, for example, his support for the more humane treatment of civilians in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe triggered a dispute between Alfred Rosenberg (Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories) and Erich Koch (Reich Commissar for the Ukraine).
In 1942, while being promoted to lieutenant colonel and then to Head of Staff of the 24th Army Corps at the Eastern Front, von Quirnheim strengthened his ties to the resistance through his brother-in-law Wilhelm Dieckmann. He was promoted to colonel in 1943, the same year he married Hilde Baier.
By September 1943, von Quirnheim had become involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler. He, his superior General Friedrich Olbricht and von Stauffenberg drew up Operation Valkyrie, a plan of action to be implemented as soon as Hitler had been killed. Meanwhile, he succeeded Stauffenberg as Chief of Staff at the Army's General Office in Berlin. Immediately after the attempt on Hitler's life in East Prussia on 20 July 1944, von Quirnheim urged General Olbricht to activate Operation Valkyrie, even though they could not be sure whether Hitler was dead. At about the same time, however, news began to arrive that Hitler had survived the assassination attempt.
Within hours, von Quirnheim, von Stauffenberg, Olbricht and Werner von Haeften had been arrested, summarily tried by Colonel General Friedrich Fromm—a quiet supporter who betrayed them once he saw the plot had failed—and were shot and buried in the Matthäus Churchyard in Berlin's Schöneberg district. There is a stone in memory of the event in the churchyard. Heinrich Himmler subsequently ordered the bodies exhumed, burnt and the ashes scattered.
A few days later, von Quirnheim's parents and one of his sisters were arrested by the Gestapo and his brother-in-law Wilhelm Dieckmann was executed on 13 September 1944.
There is a now a memorial at the spot where von Quirnheim and his co-conspirators were shot.