Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The adventure writer who tried to kill Hitler

    Henry Wermuth: attempted to derail the Nazi leader’s train (Photo: Adrian Nudel)
    Henry Wermuth: attempted to derail the Nazi leader’s train (Photo: Adrian Nudel)

    As a teenager he attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Seven decades later Henry Wermuth is busy writing adventure stories, but his own life has been far more dramatic than his fiction.

    The Holocaust survivor, who lives in north-west London and recently celebrated his 90th birthday, has just published his third novel, The Rescue of the Murdered Consul’s Children, a tale of revenge set partly in the Wild West.

    Born in Frankfurt, he was deported with his family to Poland in 1938. Over the next seven years, he was transferred from concentration camp to concentration camp, including Auschwitz.

    Remarkably, he and his father, Bernhard, were together throughout the war, but Bernhard died just days before liberation. “It has haunted me my whole life that there was a possibility we could have escaped,” Mr Wermuth said.

    He has never discovered the exact fate of his mother and sister, but it was for them that he mounted an audacious attempt to kill Hitler in 1942.

    Mr Wermuth was in a labour camp called Klaj when he heard that the Nazi leader was expected to pass through the town to boost the morale of troops following heavy losses at Stalingrad.

    “That night, I smuggled myself out of the camp — in this particular camp it was possible to do so,” he said.

    He walked the two kilometres to the station, where he found logs and stones that he placed on the tracks to derail the train. The next morning, he said: “A train passed with three wagons, and in the window was a man who I recognised by the mustache as Hitler.

    “I stood there mesmerised, waiting for the crash, but it never came. Either a local farmer or someone patrolling must have removed the logs.”

    An account of Mr Wermuth’s experience in the Holocaust, Breathe Deeply my Son, is now in its seventh edition. His bravery was honoured by Germany in 1995 with a medal.

    Today he remains about modest his attempt on Hitler’s life. “My mother and sister had been deported, I hoped to free them,” he said. “At the time I was 19 — I didn’t think about the consequences.”

UK News

Strictly Orthodox Ukip candidate 'should not run for office'

Marcus Dysch

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Strictly Orthodox Ukip candidate 'should not run for office'
Special Reports

Dublin benefits from overseas aid

Barry Toberman

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dublin benefits from overseas aid
UK News

Luciana Berger troll driven by 'fierce antisemitism'

JC Reporter

Monday, December 5, 2016

Luciana Berger troll driven by 'fierce antisemitism'
UK News

Government drops pledge to aid 3,000 child refugees

Rosa Doherty

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Government drops pledge to aid 3,000 child refugees
UK News

Limmud: Food for thought at session on 'ethical eating'

By Simon Rocker

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Limmud: Food for thought at session on 'ethical eating'
UK News

Local MP blocks visit from David Irving's 'secret tour'

Rosa Doherty

Friday, December 2, 2016

Local MP blocks visit from David Irving's 'secret tour'
UK News

Anti-Israel conference faces delay

Lee Harpin

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Anti-Israel conference faces delay
UK News

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity

Daniel Sugarman

Monday, December 5, 2016

Commission criticised over inquiry into 'antisemitic' charity
UK News

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86

JC Reporter

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86