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Nazi opponent dies

January 4, 2010

A former opponent of the Nazi regime who later chronicled the work of the German resistance to Hitler has died at the age of 98. Freya von Moltke fled Germany after the execution of her husband.

Freya von Moltke
Von Moltke was an active member of the Nazi resistanceImage: picture alliance / dpa

Anti-Nazi resistance member Freya von Moltke died on Friday after contracting a virus.

Along with her husband, Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, the former countess was vocal in her opposition to Germany's National Socialist regime during the 1930s and 1940s.

Born into a family of bankers in 1911, von Moltke met her future husband when she was 18. The pair were married in 1931 and both of them received law degrees before setting up a law practice in Berlin during Hitler's rise to power.

Founding of resistance

The von Moltke family estate in Kreisau, now Krzyzowa, Poland, was used for meetings of what became known as the Kreisau resistance movement. Members of the group were part of an attempt to assassinate Hitler, headed by Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, in July 1944.

Helmuth von Moltke was drafted into the German army as an international law expert. He went on to use his influence to have Jews deported to countries that would give them safe haven. He also argued that Germany should adhere to the Geneva Convention in its war with the Soviet Union. He was executed in January 1945 for treason.

Escape through Poland

Upon her husband's arrest, Freya von Moltke fled with her two sons, emigrating to South Africa, where she began to write and give lectures about the German resistance movement.

She moved to Vermont in the United States in 1960 to live with Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a professor and social philosopher who escaped from Germany after the rise of the Nazis.

When he died in 1973, von Moltke dedicated her life to promoting Rosenstock-Huessy's work and that of her late husband. She published numerous books about resistance to the Nazis during the Second World War.

Krzyzowa was the site of a reconciliation mass between Germany and Poland in 1989.

Editor: Nancy Isenson