Beck joined the Prussian army in March 1898 as a cadet and continued his military career in the Reichswehr after the First World War. In October 1933 he became head of the Truppenamt in the defense ministry and in 1935 was promoted to Chief of Army General Staff. Until 1938 Beck attempted to influence Hitler's foreign policy with papers, memoranda, and presentations. He concurred with Carl Goerdeler in his uncompromising rejection of the risk a war would involve. In the summer of 1938 Beck unsuccessfully called upon the senior generals to resign simultaneously to prevent the impending war in Europe. Following his conscience, he resigned his own post and quickly became a focal point of military and civilian opposition. Beck participated in planning the assassination attempt and was designated to become head of state secretary following Hitler's death. After the assassination attempt failed, General Friedrich Fromm demanded that he commit suicide on the evening of July 20, 1944. When this attempt failed, leaving Beck seriously wounded, he was shot dead by a sergeant.