The beginning of a new year is always a good time to look forward but it’s equally important to keep one eye on the past and not forget the things that should not be forgotten. Particularly striking for me was the death of one of the last surviving members of Germany’s Anti-Nazi movement. Freya von Moltke lived to the ripe-old age of 98 and passed away on the first day of 2010, January 1st.
It’s useful remembering that during WWII not all Germans were overtaken by the wave of insanity that gripped the German nation. There were those who resisted and those, even, who fought. One such group, Der Kreisauer Kreis (the Kreisau Circle), actively helped the Allies and plotted against the authorities of the Nazi Reich. The Kreis effectively ceased to exist when Helmuth von Moltke, Freya’s husband, was arrested by the Nazis.
Freya along with her husband and the other members of the Kreis were members of Germany’s pre-war aristocracy. Diplomats and clerics also filled the ranks of this resistance group. What was crucial was that the world could see that not all Germans had lost their minds. Importantly, many members of Germany’s elite belonged to this group and this sent an important signal out to the Allies: Germany was not lost.
Freya von Moltke’s work did not end when her husband was put to death by the Nazis and the Kreis fell apart. She continued to publicise both the Kreis’s and her husband’s work after the war. For Poland, hers was an important role because she supported the transformation of her former estate (in Kreisau, now Krzyżowa) into a centre for Polish-German reconciliation and later, European integration. May her memory live on. Freya von Moltke: March 29, 1911 – January 1, 2010.