The Canaris Conspiracy Manvell
and Fraenkel tell, how his cell door was permanently open, and the light
burned continually, day and night. He was given only one third of the
normal prison rations, and as the winter set in his starved body
suffered cruelly from the cold. Occasionally he was humiliated by being
forced to do menial jobs, such as scrubbing the prison floor, the SS-men
7 February 1945 Wilhelm Canaris was brought to the Flossenburg concentration
camp but he was still ill-treated and often endured having his face
slapped by the SS guards. For months he baffled the SS-interrogators with one ruse
after another, and he denied all personal complicity in the conspiracy.
He never betrayed his fellow participants in the Resistance Movement.
One of Canaris' fellow conspirators, Fabian von Schlabrendorff, later
recalled with some amazement: "His skill in acting a part, his
cunning, his imagination, the ease with which he affected naive
stupidity and then emerged into the most subtle reasoning disarmed the
security agents who interrogated him."
Bun on the afternoon of April 5, 1945, Adolf Hitler gave the order:
Canaris, Oster and the other conspirators were to be hanged.
the closing days of World War II, in the gray morning hours of April 9,
1945, gallows were erected hastily in the courtyard. Canaris,
pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Major General Hans Oster, Judge Advocate
General Carl Sack, Captain Ludwig Gehre - all were ordered to remove
their clothing and were led down the steps under the trees to the
secluded place of execution before hooting SS guards. Naked under the
scaffold, they knelt for the last time to pray - they were hanged. The
bodies were taken outside and cremated on a huge bonfire.
Von Schlabrendorff was told by one of the guards that Canaris died
slowly and horribly - he took half an hour to die.
weeks later - on April 23, 1945, - the camp was liberated by American troops.
of Canaris' fellow-prisoners, the Danish Colonel Lunding, former
Director of Danish Military Intelligence, was imprisoned in the cell
next to Canaris. He had contact with Canaris shortly before he watched
the naked figure of the Admiral being led to execution. Through tapping
on the wall of his cell Canaris send his final message to posterity:
mishandled. Nose broken at last interrogation. My time is up.
Was not a traitor. Did my duty as a German. If you survive,
please tell my wife .."