GHDI logo

IV. Organized Resistance
print version

Overview   |   I. Building the Nazi Regime   |   II. The Nazi State   |   III. The SS and Police System   |   IV. Organized Resistance   |   V. Racial Politics   |   VI. The Military, Foreign Policy, and War   |   VII. Economy and Labor   |   VIII. Gender, Family, and Generations   |   IX. Religion   |   X. Literature, Art, and Music   |   XI. Propaganda and Public Reaction   |   XII. Region, City, and Countryside   |   XIII. Science

The jurist and diplomat Adam von Trott zu Solz (1909-1944) tried to forge a middle ground for the more conservative elements of the resistance; he also aimed to inform the Allies of the German opposition to Hitler early on. In September 1939, Trott traveled to the U.S. to attend a conference. There, he established clandestine contacts with German émigrés and State Department officials, but to little advantage (10). Again, in December 1941, he tried to give the Allies information on the German resistance, this time through an official of the American National Council of Student Christian Associations in Geneva, Switzerland. British intelligence, the F.B.I., and the Office of Strategic Services all approved of this contact, which was originally slated for Rio de Janeiro. Trott indicated that the resistance rested on cooperation among certain labor leaders, the churches, and the army, with the last in the leading role. He also suggested that a coup might not occur until Germany’s military power had been broken.

Helmut James von Moltke (1907-1945), whose family name was known in virtually every German household – his great uncle Helmuth von Moltke (1880-1981) had been the successful strategist of the Franco-Prussian War – was a vehement, uncompromising opponent of the Nazis. An advisor in international law in the Office of Military Intelligence of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, Moltke headed a resistance group later known as the Kreisau Circle (Kreisau being the name of his family’s Silesian estate, where the group met). In July 1943, he traveled to Turkey, where he met with two German émigrés, Hans Wilbrandt and Alexander Rüstow, both of whom opposed Hitler’s regime. Some of the information that Moltke gave Wilbrandt and Rüstow was of potential military use to the Allies, and he asked them to pass it on. He also supplied an account of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of April-May 1943. The information that he gave them, however, included a false (i.e., exaggerated) description of how much assistance Jewish fighters had received from others and how many weapons they had possessed. Apparently, these trumped up figures originated with SS officials, who needed to make excuses when asked to explain their difficulty in crushing the uprising to the German military. Moltke did, however, accurately report that transports of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto had been sent to “annihilating institutes” in Poland (11). Moltke was eventually arrested in January 1944. He was sentence to death a year later and executed on January 23, 1945.

(10) Peter Hoffmann, The History of the German Resistance 1933-1945, translated by Richard Barry (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977), pp. 114-19.
(11) The July 9, 1943, report is identified only as WRu-OKW; this abbreviation meant that Hans Wilbrandt and Alexander Rüstow obtained the information from an OKW source. A later document, a September 14, 1943, report from Cereus, specifically identified Moltke as the source of the July 9 report. U. S. National Archives, Record Group 226, Entry 137, Box 23, Folder 160, envelope 3a, part 2. For additional evidence of Moltke’s trip to Istanbul and his meeting with Wilbrandt and Rüstow, see Helmut von Moltke, Letters to Freya, translated by Beata Ruhm von Oppen (New York: Knopf, 1990), p. 317. On Moltke’s effort to contact Alexander Kirk, see USA und Deutscher Widerstand, edited by Jürgen Heideking and Christof Mauch (Tübingen: Francke Verlag, 1993), pp. 52-59.

Page 14

first page < previous   |   next > last page