Helmuth von Moltke: A Leader Against Hitler

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Publisher Description

“Helmut James von Moltke [1907-1945] pursued two related goals during the Second World War: to help victims of National Socialism and to prepare for post-National Socialist Germany and Europe. He worked toward the first goal as a specialist in international law in the army’s intelligence department. There he struggled to uphold principles of international law against Nazi policies of racism and aggression. To achieve the second goal, Moltke initiated what later became known as the Kreisau Circle, a group that discussed and drafted plans to rebuild and reorganize Germany after Hitler’s defeat.

By birth and character Moltke was particularly well suited for his self-appointed tasks. He succeeded in his work for the army not only because of his exceptional abilities but also because of his name, which bestowed a degree of privilege and immunity. On his father’s side, he was a grandnephew of the famous Prussian field marshal, whose Silesian estate, Kreisau, he inherited. Through his mother, he was the grandson of Sir James Rose Innes, the liberal South African judge. Partly through him, Moltke developed a strong sense of social justice and a cosmopolitanism rare among the Junkers. As an aristocrat and a devout Christian, as an internationalist with socialist sympathies, Moltke won collaborators for the Kreisau Circle in the army, the bureaucracy, the Catholic and Protestant churches, and the trade unions...

Moltke was arrested in January 1944 and sentenced to death a year later, while most of his associates were convicted in the trials following the attempt to kill Hitler in July 1944.

This biography shows that Moltke not only distinguished between good and evil but, more important, felt a moral imperative to combat evil. His human greatness resulted from this combination of insight and action.” — Erich Hahn, The Journal of Modern History

“This book owes much to the nature of [Helmuth and Freya von Moltke’s] relationship and the frequency of the letters, and to the fact that Michael Balfour and Julian Frisby, the English friends of Moltke’s, were able to use them to quote from them extensively. In these letters the man comes alive, though the book as a whole has the merit of putting them in their biographical and historical context.” — Beate Ruhm von Oppen, The New York Times

“[An] excellent and moving book... an important contribution to our knowledge of the German resistance to Hitler... For the casual reader who wants to learn how a decent and able man reacted in a situation of brutality and horror, [Balfour and Frisby] have presented an engrossing story. For fellow historians they have made available a set of indispensable documents.” — Gordon R. Mork, History

“The authors of this book have had access not only to the [Kreisau] Circle’s hopeful thoughts about the future shape of Germany, but also to Moltke’s revealing and voluminous letters to his wife, who survived him. This material has been admirably employed to construct a biography in the best historical tradition: that is, one which not only brings to life the central figure, but throws abundant light upon the times in which he lived... Moltke raised his own memorial. He has been fortunate in the two biographers who in this book have delineated and interpreted it.” — R. Cecil, International Affairs

“This is an important addition to the growing literature on the German Resistance movement.” — Robert E. Neil, The American Historical Review

“This new biography is written with real affection by two close personal friends of Moltke... provides a more personal angle, above all by the numerous quotations from Moltke’s letters to his wife which miraculously survived the war... gives us a fascinating picture of the problems any German opposition to Hitler had to face.” — F. L. Carsten, The Slavonic and East European Review

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August 8
Plunkett Lake Press
Patrick Mehr

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