Discussion “Last Letters”: A Conversation with Dorothea and Johannes von Moltke

Dorothea and Johannes von Moltke © Dorothea and Johannes von Moltke

Mon, 04/19/2021


A discussion about the profoundly personal record of Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke’s love, faith, resistance, and courage in the face of fascism.
Goethe Pop Up Seattle joins USC Max Kade Institute, USC LibrariesThomas Mann House, and The Elliott Bay Book Company in welcoming Dorothea and Johannes von Moltke, grandchildren of Helmuth James von Moltke and his wife, Freya, for a reading and discussion of their grandparents’ correspondence from the volume Last Letters: The Prison Correspondence Between Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke 1944-45.
Dorothea and Johannes von Moltke will speak about the letters against their familial and historic backdrop and reflect on their contemporary relevance.
The event will take place online over Zoom; free registration is required to receive access info.
Tegel prison, Berlin, in the fall of 1944. Helmuth James von Moltke is awaiting trial for his leading role in the Kreisau Circle, one of the most important German resistance groups against the Nazis. By a near miracle, the prison chaplain at Tegel is Harald Poelchau, a friend and coconspirator of Helmuth and his wife, Freya. From Helmuth’s arrival at Tegel in late September 1944 until the day of his execution by the Nazis on January 23, 1945, Poelchau would carry Helmuth’s and Freya’s letters in and out of prison daily, risking his own life. Freya guarded this treasure for another half-century but considered it too personal for publication during her lifetime. After her death in 2010, the letters were published to great acclaim in Germany, and they are now available in an English translation by Shelley Frisch, which is introduced and edited by Helmuth and Freya von Moltke’s son Caspar and their grandchildren Dorothea and Johannes von Moltke.
About the Speakers:
Dorothea von Moltke received her PhD in German literature from Columbia University. She is a co-owner of Labyrinth Books in Princeton and has a sustained engagement with social justice issues, particularly through building libraries in NJ prisons and, most recently, through Princeton Mutual Aid.
Johannes von Moltke received his PhD in Literature from Duke University. He is a Professor at the University of Michigan, where he is jointly appointed in German Studies and Film, TV & Media. Professor von Moltke is a member of the Michigan Society of Fellows, Vice President of the American Friends of Marbach, and Past President of the German Studies Association. At Michigan, he has served as the organizer of the biannual German Film Institute.