Operation Zeppelin

By: Lauren Saphner

(Assassination Plot)

Operation Zeppelin was an elaborate plot by the Germans to assassinate Josef Stalin. Operation Zeppelin can also apply to two other WWII operations:

  • German scheme to recruit Soviet POWs for espionage behind Russian lines
  • Allied scheme to divert attention from the invasion of Normandy

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Soldiers being questioned.


The Germans wanted to get rid of Stalin because the Germans were fighting a war on two front at this point, the Russians and the Allies, so if they could get rid of one of those fronts, they could put all of their efforts into fighting the Allies.


The Germans conceived this plan in July of 1944. The actual attempt took place a few months later that year in September.

The Attempt

The Germans sent in a first team to check to make sure everything was all clear and once they felt secure they would send in the second team containing an assassin with a motorcycle and all of the proper documents to get them through the checkpoints. However, when the first crew landed they were immediately captured by the Soviets and forced to send the signal to the second team, who the Russians planned to capture as well upon their arrival. Due to poor radio signals, the second plane was shot at by other Russian soldiers, throwing them off course. One of the wings was broken so the plane began to crash, but the plane landed without losing any soldiers. A few of them decided to go on by motorcycle and the others proceeded on foot. The were riding along and when they came across a sentry they were able to produce the proper documents and just as they were about to get their papers back and go on towards Moscow, the major made a terrible mistake and remarked that they had been riding all night but the sentry noted that the men and their motorcycle were dry when it had rained only hours before. He raised the alarm and the would-be assassins were arrested. These men were not heard from again until the end of WWII upon their return to Russia. The other group of men were, however, able to report that they were attempting to escape on foot after the landing, but these men were never heard from again.
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POW's marching through water.

There were many more attempts to kill Stalin before and after this one, none of which were successful.

My Reaction

I thought that it was really interesting how they were so close to getting away with the plan, but they were caught over a small little remark. However, we will never know what else could have gone wrong later in the plan. Doing this project really makes me never want to be president of any country because there are a lot of people that do not like you and that have all sorts of reasons to kill you. It also made me appreciate that there isn't any war happening on American soil right now because that seems like such a terrible and hostile environment to be in. I really enjoyed learning about this and it made me really excited to learn about WWII.

Works Cited

"Operation Zeppelin (Assassination Plot) - WWII General." WWII Forums. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2016.

"StrategyPage.com - Military Book Reviews." StrategyPage.com - Military Book Reviews. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2016.