The man who nearly changed the face of history. (not many people know that)
Second world war
Hitler assassination plotter Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist diesVon Kleist, who was involved in 20 July 1944 plot and agreed to kill Nazi dictator with a suicide vest, has died aged 90
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 12 March 2013 18.36 GMT Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist in 2010. He was sent to a concentration camp when the plot to kill Hitler failed. Photograph: Henning Schacht/AP
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, the last surviving participant in the main plot to kill Adolf Hitler, has died aged 90.
Von Kleist, who once volunteered to wear a suicide vest to assassinate the Nazi dictator, died at his home in Munich on Friday, said his wife, Gundula.
Von Kleist was born on 10 July 1922, on his family estate Schmenzin in Pomerania, in an area of north-eastern Germany that is now part of Poland.
The Von Kleist family was a long line of Prussian landowners, who had served the state for centuries in high-ranking military and administrative positions.
Von Kleist's father, Ewald von Kleist, was an opponent of Hitler even before he came to power, and was arrested many times after the Nazi dictator took control in 1933. The elder Von Kleist famously travelled to England in 1938, the year before the second world war broke out, to try and determine whether other western nations would support a coup attempt against Hitler, but failed to get the British government to change its policy of appeasement.
Despite his family's opposition to the Nazis, the younger Von Kleist joined the German army in 1940, and was wounded in 1943 in fighting on the eastern front.
During his convalescence, he was approached in January 1944 by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, another officer from an aristocratic family, and presented with a plan to kill Hitler. Von Kleist had been chosen as the officer to model a new uniform for Hitler, and Von Stauffenberg proposed that he wear a suicide vest underneath, and detonate it when he stood next to the dictator.
Years later, Von Kleist remembered explaining the suicide plot to his father, who paused only briefly before telling his 22-year-old son: "Yes, you have to do this."
"Fathers love their sons and mine certainly did, and I had been quite sure he would say no," Von Kleist recalled. "But, as always, I had underestimated him."
The suicide attack plan never came to fruition.
Months later, however, Von Kleist was approached again by Von Stauffenberg to take part in what would become known as the 20 July plot – for the day in 1944 that the assassination was attempted – which was depicted in a 2008 film Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise as Von Stauffenberg.
Von Kleist was supposed to play a key role as the person who was to carry a briefcase packed with explosives to a meeting with Hitler. In a change of plans, however, Von Stauffenberg decided to plant the bomb himself.
Von Stauffenberg placed the bomb in a conference room where Hitler was meeting with his aides and military advisers at his east Prussian headquarters. Hitler escaped the full force of the blast when someone moved the briefcase next to a table leg, deflecting much of the explosive force.
Von Kleist remained in Berlin, charged with overseeing the arrest of officers and officials loyal to Hitler in the city.
But when news spread that Hitler had survived, the plot crumbled and Von Stauffenberg, Von Kleist's father and scores of others were arrested and executed in an orgy of revenge killings. Some were hanged by the neck with piano wire. Von Stauffenberg was shot by firing squad.
Von Kleist himself was arrested and questioned at length by the Gestapo, and sent to a concentration camp, but then inexplicably let go and returned to combat duty.
Contrary to the script and character both Speight and Mitchell were very left wing politically. I believe Mitchell gave up on the Jewish religion and turned to atheism when he had to go to schul instead of watching his (and mine) beloved Spurs on Saturday and got his first start in acting at a left wing venue the Camden Peoples Theatre when he left the RAF. He actually got set on a few times at White Hart lane when the morons thought he was a West Ham fan like his character in TDDUP. I loved his famous phrases Silly Moo for his wife and Scarse Git for son in law. Classic stuff.
I wasn't aware of the thing about Speight. But look at many sitcoms and how they take the piss out of various groups. Allo allo took the piss out the French It aint half hot mum took the piss out of Asian folk and other comedies such as Rising Damp had racist overtones. Even Spike Milligan a former member of the Communist party sent up Irish (he was half Irish) and Asians. One group who are very good at sending themselves up are the Jews. Going back to Alf Garnett in the follow up In sickness and in health one character that cracks me up is Marrygold his black gay home help. Another was the senile Gwinneth played by a great and very underrated comedy actress Irene Handl. A classic one liner is a sketch where she meets Marrygold for the first time and asks Alf. Is he your son? To un PC for comedy nowadays.