Events | "Last Letters: The Prison Correspondence between Helmut James and Freya von Moltke" – A Virtual Discussion with Johannes & Dorothea von Moltke

Online | April 19, 2021 | 5:00 PM (PDT)

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 would safeguard these letters for the rest of her long life.

Dorothea and Johannes von Moltke, grandchildren of Helmuth James von Moltke and his wife, Freya, discuss their 2019 book Last Letters: The Prison Correspondence Between Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke 1944-45. The book is a profoundly personal record of the couple’s love, faith, resistance, and courage in the face of fascism.


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 New Jersey 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.

Live online webinar on April 19, 2021, 5 p.m. (PT).

Please register here.

No admission.


The Event is presented by USC Max Kade Institute's Lecture Series Exile and Resistance in cooperation with Thomas Mann House, Goethe Pop Up Seattle, USC Libraries and the Elliott Bay Book Company. 

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