Generous Orthodoxy  

Friday, January 22, 2010

A great Protestant heroine goes home

Freya von Moltke died several days ago at the age of 98. She and her husband, Count Helmut von Moltke, were German aristocrats who gathered the "Kreisau Circle" at his ancestral estate in order to resist the Nazis. In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer wrote that the Kreisau Circle had provided "the intellectual, spiritual [theological], ethical, philosphical and, to some extent, political ideas of the resistance to Hitler." The wives of the Kreisau Circle, and particularly Mrs. Moltke, ran the same risks as their husbands.

Helmut von Moltke was hanged by the Gestapo, probably with piano wire. His letters to his wife (which she hid in the beehives of the Kreisau estate) were published in English in 1990 as Letters to Freya. Some of them, especially the last ones, are among the most moving Christian testimonials in extremis ever written, with significant quotations from Scripture. The New York Times obituary (1/10/10) gives some hint of this, but only a hint.