family estate for nurture democracy


Striding down from the tiny “emperor station” near Schweidnitz in Lower Silesia, Helmuth Caspar von Moltke arrives at Kreisau, a sprawling estate that is his birthplace and childhood home.

As he walks along a dirt path, this tall, elegant man feels the weight of responsibility to see to it that Kreisau, laden with personal memories and important history, be used to promote a peaceful, united Europe. It was this vision for which his father died: It was here that his father and a group of his friends met secretly to reject the Nazis and plot a democratic Germany as part of a united Europe without Adolf Hitler.

Those were dangerous, treasonous ideas in 1930s and ’40s Germany. They led to prison and execution for most of those involved in the “Kreisau Circle.”

In 1866, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had helped Mr. Moltke’s great-great uncle, Field Marshal Count Bernhard von Moltke, acquire the estate, a thank-you for help in winning a war against Austria.


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