Freya von Moltke

1911 - 2010


* March 29, 1911 in Cologne
† January 01, 2010 in Vermont, USA

Freya von Moltke
Image: © von Moltke family


Thinking freely of a peaceful coexistence - nationally and within the international alliance: this was the message of Freya von Moltke and her husband Count Helmuth James von Moltke as co-founders of the National Socialist resistance group, the Kreisau circle. As a couple, they lived by this message - at a time when free thinking was life-threatening in Germany. Throughout her life, Freya von Moltke committed herself to preserving and spreading this idealistic legacy.

October 18, 1931 Freya and Helmuth James, Cologne Georgsplatz, detail from a wedding picture.
Image: © von Moltke family
October 18, 1931 Freya, James and their mothers Dorothy von Moltke and Ada Deichmann, wedding picture.
Image: © von Moltke family

Dear visitor, you are now standing on the spot where Freya Deichmann was born on March 29th,1911, daughter of the Deichmann banking family. At the age of twenty, Freya, who was from the middle-class, married Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, four years her senior and descendant of the Prussian Field Marshal von Moltke, whom the National Socialists admired. This did not prevent Helmuth James from designing plans for a democratic government after Nazi tyranny.

1932 Wilhelm Viggo, Helmuth James, Asta and Freya v. Moltke with friends on her estate's porch.
Image: © von Moltke family
1942 Freya with the younger son Konrad on her estate's porch.
Image: © von Moltke family

Like-minded people met for discussions, first in 1940 in Berlin, then on Moltkes' estate in Kreisau, Silesia. This resulted in the Kreisau circle. In 1944, Helmuth James Graf von Moltke was arrested, and executed in Berlin in 1945, when the city was already in flames.

Although Freya would rather have stayed with friends in Berlin after the end of the war, she went to South Africa with her two sons - they were four and seven years old - where she and her sons got by thanks to an inheritance. She worked there as a social worker, as if out of the frying pan and into the fire: from Nazi Germany to apartheid South Africa. Nevertheless, she waited until her sons graduated from school. In the late 1940s, Freya once again met Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a cultural philosopher who was 23 years her senior. She later moved to him to Vermont, USA.

Freya von Moltke with her sons Helmuth Caspar and Conrad in South Africa in 1947.
Image: © von Moltke family
Freya von Moltke with Helmuth Caspar and Conrad in Berlin, ca. 1956.
Image: © von Moltke family

Kreisau, in what was then German Silesia, has been part of Poland since the end of World War II. In 1990, a Polish-German initiative invited Freya von Moltke to her former estate in Kreisau, now Krzyżowa. There, a German-Polish and international meeting centre for young people was established with the spirit of the Kreisau circle. From then on, she travelled to these meetings every year. With the establishment of the Freya von Moltke Foundation in Berlin, she wanted to create the basis for the continuation of this youth meeting.

Freya von Moltke with young adults in her Kreisau estate.
Image: © Fundacja Krzyzowa

For there are treasures that cannot be taken from you, which can even survive death, as her husband Helmuth James taught her. Freya von Moltke died on January 1st, 2010 at the age of 98 in the US. The Kreisau philosophy lives on:

For a hopeful present and a shapeable future.

Former cowshed, today a restaurant.
Image: © Walter Ludwigs
The manor house’s front gate before the renovations.
Image: © Walter Ludwigs
Farmyard.
Image: © Walter Ludwigs
Manor house.
Image: © Walter Ludwigs
Members of the Freya von Moltke-Foundation visiting Kreisau in 2013.
Image: © Fundacja Krzyzowa
This table represents the composition of the Kreisau circle: the upper class, socialists, protestants, catholics.
Image: © Walter Ludwigs
This piece of art is the result of one of the international workshops.
Image: © Walter Ludwigs

This memorial website was developed at the initiative of the Freya von Moltke working group.

Further contacts and information:

Arbeitskreis Freya von Moltke
http://www.katholikenausschuss.de/themen_1/freya-von-moltke/

Stiftung Kreisau
http://www.krzyzowa.org.pl/de/fundacja-krzyzowa

Freya von Moltke-Stiftung
http://www.fvms.de