There’s an obit in today’s Times for Freya von Moltke, the 94-year-old widow of Count Helmuth James von Moltke, who was murdered by the Nazis for being part of a circle that was conspiring against Hitler – “hanged,” according to the Times, ‘most likely by piano wire.”
As well as reminding readers of honorable men and their deeds, it reminded readers of the wives’ roles. We take it for granted that woman are active participants in world events, but for many women of von Moltke’s time, simply being married to a conspirator doomed them as conspirators as well.
As the Times, notes, “Women who joined their husbands to oppose Hitler treaded the same dangerous ground as then men. Mrs. Moltke could have faced the death penalty simply for serving food and drinks to the conspirators. Her husband relied on her first impressions … to make life-and-death judgments. She contributed ideas, particularly on legal issues, and her expertise.’
She also saved essential documents and letters in a most imaginative and effective hiding place: a beehive. The Times quotes from von Moltke’s last letter to her before his execution; He “said he would ‘gladly accompany’ his wife ‘a bit further on this earth.
“But then I would need a new task from God. The task for which God made me is done.'”