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Gen. Hans Speidel, former NATO commander in central Europe...

BONN, West Germany -- Gen. Hans Speidel, former NATO commander in central Europe and one of the few survivors of a plot to kill Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, died Wednesday. He was 87.

Speidel, whose career in the German army made him chief of staff to the legendary Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, a leader of the resistance against Hitler and then one of the most senior soldiers in the postwar Western alliance, died at his Bad Honnef home just outside Bonn, a defense ministry statement said.

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Speidel will be buried with military honors in Bad Honnef Monday, the statement said.

Speidel was born in 1897, like Rommel in the southern state of Baden-Wuerrtemberg and served in World War 1 in France and Belgium. He spent most of World War II with the army on fronts in France and the Soviet Union and was appointed Chief of Staff to Rommel on the western front in France in April 1944.

Speidel helped coordinate the July 20, 1944 plot of career army officers against Hitler, in which Rommel played a fringe part. But Hitler survived the bomb the group planted at his headquarters in East Prussia to wreak a terrible revenge on the conspirators and their families.

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Rommel was forced to take poison and all his staff was rounded up.

Speidel survived seven months of questioning by the Gestapo secret police without giving any of his fellow plotters away. He escaped imprisonment in 1945 near Lake Constance in southern Germany and hid with a Catholic priest until Allied forces liberated the area.

He resumed his military career with the reformed West German army and was Commander in Chief of NATO forces in Central Europe 1957-1963. He retired in 1964 to write many books about his military career.

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