Putney Public Library Screens Freya – Love in the Time of Resistance
Freya von Moltke, widow of the German resistance leader Helmuth von Moltke, died in Norwich, VT in 2010.
She was one of the last surviving members of the German resistance group that the Gestapo dubbed “the Kreisau Circle.” And indeed, the Moltke family estate in Kreisau did become a center of the German resistance to Hitler after Helmuth and his friend Peter Yorck invited trusted friends and acquaintances from across the political spectrum to meet and discuss how to give German society a human face again after Nazism was defeated.
Several interview and documentary films have come out in the last several years featuring Freya’s story. The latest and perhaps the best, by Antje Starost and Hans Helmuth Grotjahhn, will be presented on Thursday, June 7th at 7PM at the Putney Public Library by Ray Huessy. Ray met Freya in 1960, when she came to share his grandfather’s life; he also spent much of what turned out to be the last year of her life working in her house in Norwich.
Politics and the precarious financial condition of the Moltke family estate kept the couple separated for much of their marriage, but they wrote each other nearly every day. Their correspondence, which eventually grew to more than 1,600 letters, is a unique witness to an era, but most of all to their love for each other.
Most of Helmuth’s letters was published in “Letters to Freya” in 1990, but in accordance with Freya’s wishes, their last letters, written while he was in prison, were published only after her death. This final correspondence offers heart-breaking glimpses into their life between life and death, what one reviewer called “material of astonishing beauty, poetry, and passion.” (An English-language edition of the last letters is in preparation.)
Starost and Grojahn set out to capture the story as if told by Freya herself. The actors Nina Hoss and Ulrich Matthes read Helmuth and Freya’s letters but those passages are framed by vivid interviews with the 90-year-old Freya, recorded in Norwich in 2000, and with her surviving son, Helmuth Caspar. Freya’s vitality, her sense of humor, and her forthrightness bring a sense of immediacy and to the terrible drama of this part of her life story.
Putney Library is located at 55 Main Street in Putney, VT. These program is free and open to the public, no matter which town you live in.