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Military History/Operation Valkyrie- World War II


Dear Mr. Leepson,

I am a high school student in my junior year at Bedford High School in Massachusetts. I am currently involved in the National History Day project, and as part of it we are required to conduct an interview with an expert on the topic. My topic is Operation Valkyrie and the 20 July plot. I have a few questions on the topic that I was wondering if you could answer.

1. Why do you think that the plot was not succesessful?

2. What do you believe is the significance of the event?

Thank you for your time.


Chris Cowles

While I don't consider myself an expert on World War II history, I have written about the war and taught it at community college and have a few thoughts about the plot.

I believe that it was unsuccessful mainly through the bad luck that Hitler was not killed. If he had, things may have worked out as the plotters planned it.

The significance is twofold: that there were more than a few German military men (and, by extension, German people) who saw that Hitler was evil and were motivated to take action. Secondly, there were many more who were loyal to Hitler and his ideas who rallied around him after the attempt.

Hope this helps.

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Marc Leepson


I can answer most questions dealing with all aspects of U.S. military history. My expertise is the Vietnam War. I also have written extensively about the U.S. Civil War, World War II, World War I, The Philippine War, and the American Revolution. My books include a concise biography of the Marquis de Lafayette, the history of the American Flag, and the post-Jefferson history of Monticello, and therefore know a great deal about those specific subjects. I specialize in writing about matters of strategy--not tactics. And I also am interested in personalities. I have very little knowledge about ordnance or the value of old military memorabilia. Nor do I know a lot about uniforms and insignia--except about the Vietnam War. To repeat: I have no expertise in assessing the value of ordnance or uniforms or any type of military equipment. And my knowledge about military uniforms is only limited to those of the Vietnam War era. If you have questions on these topics, I recommend contacting an antiques dealer in your area who specializes in military uniforms, ordnance, etc.


Author and journalist with more than 35 years' experience.

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New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribute, New York Newsday, the Arizona Republic, St. Petersburg Times, Detroit News. Magazines: Smithsonian, Preservation, The VVA Veteran, Vietnam, Civil War Times, America's Civil War, Military History, World War II. Editor: The Webster's New World Dictionary of the Vietnam War

BA, 1967, George Washington University, History MA, 1971, George Washington University, European History

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Vietnam Veterans of America Excellence in the Arts Award, 2011

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