Last Letters: The Prison Correspondence between Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, 1944-45 Paperback by Edited by Helmuth Caspar von Moltke, Johannes von Moltke, and Dorothea von Moltke, afterword by Rachel Seiffert, translated by Shelley Frisch

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Last Letters: The Prison Correspondence between Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, 1944-45 Paperback by Edited by Helmuth Caspar von Moltke, Johannes von Moltke, and Dorothea von Moltke, afterword by Rachel Seiffert, translated by Shelley Frisch

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Product Details

  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (2019-09-17)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • ISBN-13: 9781681373812
  • Item Weight: 436.59 grams
  • Dimensions: 7.95 x 5.02 x 0.87 cm

Available for the first time in English, a moving prison correspondence between a husband and wife who resisted the Nazis.

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. Last Letters is a profoundly personal record of the couple’s fortitude in the face of fascism.

About the Author

In 1935, after turning down an opportunity to become a judge because the job would require him to join the Nazi party, Helmuth James von Moltke (1907-1945) began a practice of his own in Berlin that helped Jews and other persecuted peoples emigrate from Germany. In 1939, von Moltke was drafted into the German counter-intelligence service. He soon became a leader of those opposed to the Nazi party, leading to his eventual arrest and execution.

Freya von Moltke (1911-2010) was part of the anti-Nazi opposition group, the Kreisau Circle, which she helped to form with her husband Helmuth. After World War II, Freya left Germany and settled in South Africa with her two sons. Unable to tolerate Apartheid, however, Freya returned to Berlin in 1956 and eventually settled in Norwich, Vermont, where she lived until her death.

Helmuth Caspar von Moltke is a retired lawyer and the son of Freya and Helmuth von Moltke. He lives in Vermont, Quebec, and Berlin.

Johannes von Molkte is a professor of German and Film, Media and Television at the University of Michigan and the grandson of Freya and Helmuth von Moltke.

Dorothea von Molke is co-owner of Labyrinth Books in Princeton, NJ, and the granddaughter of Freyaand Helmuth von Moltke.

Shelley Frisch's translations from German, which include biographies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Marlene Dietrich/Leni Riefenstahl (dual biography), and Franz Kafka, along with many other works of fiction and nonfiction, have been awarded numerous translation prizes. She has chaired the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize jury since 2015.

Rachel Seiffert is a British novelist and short story writer.


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