In Nazi Germany, there certainly wasn't a surfeit of attempts to cut short Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's life. Among them, there was Georg Elser, who missed killing Hitler by just a few minutes when his time bomb brought down the Munich Bürgerbräu beer hall in 1939 just minutes after Hitler had left. There was the Swiss theology student Maurice Bavaud who resolved to shoot Hitler in 1938 before being captured by the Gestapo and guillotined in Berlin in 1941.
And then, of course, there was Lt. Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, whose briefcase bomb narrowly missed killing the Führer when it went off on July 20, 1944. The heavy oak table lessened the effects of the blast, allowing the dictator to get away with only slight injuries.
Had actor Tom Cruise been around back then, though, things might have turned out differently. Just one day before his blockbuster film about von Stauffenberg's failed assassination attempt debuts in Berlin, the tabloid Bild on Monday published an interview with Cruise in which the actor says he would have tried to kill Hitler.
"You know what, I would like to think that about myself. I think so," Cruise said when asked if he would have attempted an assassination. "I would have tried everything to kill this monster. In my childhood, I always wanted to kill Hitler. We always played war games: The Allies against the Nazis."
Cruise arrived in the German capital in the wee hours of Monday morning, flying in by private jet from South Korea where he had also been promoting his new film, called "Valkyrie." The film opened in North America in December and has raked in a respectable $77.6 million (€58.5 million) at the box office since then. Cruise also told the South Korean media that "I've always wanted to kill Hitler."
"Valkyrie," much of which was shot in and around Berlin, tells the story of Stauffenberg's plot to eliminate Hitler late in the war at the Führer's advance headquarters called the "Wolf's Lair," located in present-day Poland. Stauffenberg and a number of co-conspirators were rounded up in Berlin soon after the bomb went off and were executed in the early morning of July 21, 1944.
In his interview with Bild, Cruise recalls immediately being excited about the screenplay when he first saw it. "When I read the script, my hands were sweating with anticipation," he said. "Every page was sensational! Why does nobody know this story? It is world history -- and a thriller! I read it until three in the morning while the kids were in bed."
Because of his attempt to kill the Führer, Stauffenberg has long been something of a hero in post-Nazi Germany with numerous schools named after him and ceremonies to mark the occasion held each year across the country. Cruise's film hits German movie theaters on Thursday.