Disclaimer: I do not own Valkyrie, or anything associated with it. I will make no money off of this; I am simply interpreting another interpretation of real men in a real situation.
Author's Note: This came to me after seeing the film a second time. I was watching the ending and I realized how sad, and apologetic the look on Tresckow's face was as he committed suicide. That thought evoked this. Acey Dearest – a very good friend of mine – helped me come up with the title and let me use her as a sounding board as I talked through the plot, as well as betaing this. This would not be what it is without her.
A Silent Integrity
Sometimes, failure is forgivable - a minor dent in the surface of the road, or an awkward moment, filled with silent stares and twitchy hands. But, now, this moment, this failure, is not forgivable. It's glaring and gaping, a chasm to cross, but only crossable by a bridge made of men's bodies and souls given willing by those men who believed in something bigger than themselves.
I am one of those men. As I stand before the court, their red robes glaring, their voices raised and angry, I know my body and my soul is to build that bridge. I will not deny my words; it would be futile and cowardly. I have been enough of a coward already. I was not there that night two months ago. I wasn't captured, tried, sentenced and had that sentence brought to bear a matter of mere hours. No, I was not there, but then again, I was. My hopes died with those men.
A lifetime now would not change the feeling I have. A year, a month, a day - it makes no difference. I should have done so many things, and yet, I didn't act. Sure as I stand now, I stood up against the Party, refusing to join, but never more. My risk, in retrospect, now as I stand facing a group of men that can never condemn me as I deserve it, was so small in comparison to that of others.
They say that I am a traitor, and maybe I am, but only to their Germany, never to my own. I tell them that within months the people, harried and tired will drag them through the dirty streets. I say the words convincingly, but deep inside my heart I wonder if it's true. If it is, then perhaps, I have not failed my country, my fatherland, as deeply as I somehow know I have.
They can kill me however they like; it makes little difference to me now. They carry me away, rough hands gripping my arms like vices as if I would escape. I have nothing to escape to. All I have left is my failure to Germany. My failure - and my belief that saving my country was worth any price.
--- Erwin von Witzleben - August 8, 1944 ---
Standing in this line, hearing the ragged breathing of the others, the sound of the Colonel's blood hitting the floor, the encroaching footsteps of a man hell-bent to condemn us all, I wonder what I might have done differently. I know now that I could not have spoken out more than I did - I was weak, and foolish to ever think I could. The Party was like a wall, ever looming over me, over the Resistance, over Germany and to have said a harsher word would have been as though I were offering myself as a prisoner or a target. But still, to have said nothing is a far worse crime. To have let my own fear silence me despite knowing what was right, knowing the words that needed to be said and holding my tongue is a shame I must bear forever, a shame that will reach beyond the quickly approaching moment of my death.
Fromm arrests me, a moot point and merely a formality; we all know that when the sun rises on Hitler's Germany come morning, we will not be citizens if we ever truly were to begin with. It is no surprise that he plans to see us all dead, despite what the Major says. But I simply cannot bring to bear the thought of having them, the loyal national socialists, punish my crime.
My crime is not that which I'm accused of. My crime is truly and simply a failure, against God, against my countrymen - my brothers-in-arms, and against my fatherland. I will not fail again; the punishment that must be brought to bear upon me is only worthwhile if it is from the hand of someone who understands the failure themselves. The three faces that would otherwise serve as my absolution are useless to me now, something for which I hold as much guilt as they. So, I must attempt to absolve myself instead.
As the heels of military boots fall on the floor, heavy and steady, I make my last request. A pistol. It's a small thing - dark and shining, given to me with an understanding of what I plan. The weight in my hand is strangely comforting. I find myself ready to pay for that which I've done while the cold metal presses into my temple and the awkward angle of my arm feels painfully strained. My last words are true. I am thinking of earlier times, much earlier, of when my fatherland was still sacred, when I squeeze the trigger.
--- Ludwig Beck - July 21, 1944 ---
Even now I find it hard to admit that he was right. Standing beside a man who only a moment before had been alive, I still want to deny that Colonel von Stauffenberg was right. I failed my country because I was afraid. The theory, the words, never made me afraid, but when the time came to follow through, I couldn't. The action was beyond what my mind could bear - I was afraid of the course of action I had chosen.
In that moment, I chose to die as well. My fear led to my failure and my death, it seems. Had I said yes, had I given him permission to proceed, perhaps things would have been different. By now the war could be over, a truce reached, and the lives so wantonly thrown into a losing a battle might not have been lost. I am the cause of it, I know as surely as I hear the click of the camera recording these executions. It is a stain my soul will bear forever.
The men in this bunker slip the wire round my throat, but the hands may as well have been my own. When I spoke out of fear that we would not succeed, I condemned myself, and our plan to failure. It is my fault alone that my sacred Germany, the ever present fatherland, does not exist yet again. The wire round my neck tightens, and all I know is that this darkness is one that I cannot, and could not, reach beyond.
--- Carl Goerdeler - February 2, 1945 ---
I was sure he could succeed, that we would, if he took the lead. Yet when I heard the Führer's voice on the radio, I knew it was over. With all the things we hoped for nearly coming to pass, we had fallen, as though we were flying towards the sun on wings of wax. I hate to admit the failure or that we have run out of chances and that this is the end. But there is no alternative.
There is some measure, however small, of divine providence that I am here, surrounded by the silent trees as I spend my last moments. If I must die, I will do it by my own hand, since all else that I set out to accomplish never succeeded by it. I pray for the lives of my family, and for the families of the others, being so far removed from the center of the conflict I know they are in more danger than I.
As I twist off the cap of the explosive slowly, I wish there were some way for me to amend what went wrong, to pray to God, and have him rewrite the pages of time so that we were successful. But, despite the desire that burns strongly within my heart that this might be so, I know it is impossible. The only payment, the only sacrifice I can give is my life, and so that is the sacrifice I offer.
The explosive is heavy in the hand under my chin as I close my eyes and pray one last time for the souls of the others. I do not know if there is anyone left to pray for my own. I do not think I would deserve it even if there were. I wish there were a way to apologize for my failed attempts at restoring my fatherland, a way to tell my country I had done all I could do. But other than this, there is no way, of that I am certain.
My last thought is tragically true, despite my wishes to the contrary. All I ever had was a silent integrity, and today I find that was not enough.
--- Henning von Tresckow - July 21, 1944 ---
Author's Note: There it is, any reviews would be very much appreciated.