In 1939, during the course of an annual speech at the Bürgerbräukeller beer hall in Munich commemorating the failed putsch of 1923, Führer Adolf Hitler was instantly killed by the explosion of a large bomb placed by Johann Georg Elser in a column behind the speakers podium.
Beer Hall Putsch, ReduxThe Führer's downfall was entirely due to lax security which had been mishandled by local party strongman Christian Weber rather than Reinhard Heydrich. Incredibly Elser had managed to stay inside the Bürgerbräukeller after closing hours each night for over a month, during which time he hollowed out the pillar behind the speaker's rostrum, and placed the bomb inside it.
Of course the assassination occurred at the oddest moment imaginable. Germany had invaded Poland, and although this action had triggered a declaration of war from Britain and France the allied powers had not yet intervened in the fighting in any meaningful or committed way. This was contrary to the Franco-Polish military convention; instead of assistance by the promised full mobilization within three days, the Polish Government had been bitterly disappointed by the Saar Offensive. This half-hearted attempt saw eleven French divisions cautiously advance along a twenty mile line near Saarbrücken against weak German opposition.
As a result of this collective loss of will, opinion in Europe was deeply divided. Either those eleven divisions would rapidly begin advancing, or perhaps members of the Allied Government would reveal their true colours by seeking a negotiated peace.