A Journey To Kreisau

A Journey to Kreisau tells the powerful story of a young German couple, Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, who were at the center of a resistance effort that included several meetings at the von Moltke estate in Kreisau, in Eastern Germany; this relatively small group of friends laid plans for a post-Hitler world that would encompass a democratic Germany within a democratic Europe. Helmuth James was arrested and imprisoned and later executed by the Nazis during the final months of the Third Reich. Freya escaped with their two sons, ultimately coming to live in Vermont where, (via a German-Jewish dialogue group), Marc had the opportunity to meet with her many times and receive her cooperation in his work on the play. The von Moltke estate, now in Poland and called Krzyzowa, is a center for the study of democratic values and facilitates European integration.

Playwright/Director’s Statement on “A Journey To Kreisau”

First, here’s a toast to used bookstores. It’s because of my passion for such stores that I came upon a galley proof of a book called Letters to Freya—Letters from a Young German Aristocrat to His Wife, 1939-1945. That aristocrat was Helmuth James von Moltke and that riveting collection of letters was the catalyst for this project. Events were further set in motion when, in 2002, at a meeting of the Belmont German-Jewish dialogue group, I learned that a group member I had known as Veronica Jochum was actually Veronica Jochum von Moltke, sister-in-law to Freya. An introduction to Freya followed, and all the rest flowed from that first meeting with Freya.

Freya von Moltke in Vermont, 2003. photo: Susan L. Smith
Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke looking out the window of a train
Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, photo courtesy of Helmuth Caspar von Moltke
Marc P. Smith with Freya von Moltke, Vermont 2003. Photo : Susan L. Smith

An important response from Freya to the NY Times, on the review of her husband’s book:

Published Aug. 5, 1990 –  The New York Times Resisting Hitler
To the Editor:

In your July 1 issue you published an excellent review by V.R. Berghahn of my husband’s “Letters to Freya.” The heading you gave this review, however — “No, Mein Fuhrer” – is so painful to me and so contrary to my husband’s whole struggle that I am compelled to write to you. I am, of course, aware of the fact that you did not mean to hurt “our” feelings, but wanted to catch the readers’ eyes. Even so, I have to make my point.

Helmuth James von Moltke did indeed say no to National Socialism, but Hitler was never his Fuhrer. The whole book is a testimony to that. Even the judge who condemned him to death explicitly acknowledged this. The words “Mein Fuhrer” – hated by us – were never on my husband’s lips, nor in his mind, nor in his heart. Therefore, I have to object to their being used in connection with anything that has to do with my husband’s life. I can only condone them as a sign of ignorance about what it meant to be opposed to Hitler.

Norwich,  VT

For Production Rights

For inquiries regarding rights to produce either A Journey to Kreisau or Karski, please e-mail Susan L. Smith here.

For Classroom Study Purposes Only

Please submit this Letter of Agreement.

***Please note:

From the playwright: Both plays were specifically written to be presented in the format of staged readings. Actors are at music stands or lecterns, with scripts in front of them. They are dressed in street clothes, and there are no sets, props, special lighting effects or sound effects. Lights may be focused on one, several, or all the actors, as per the director. Actors may sit, stand, or move about as per the director. It is up to the words of the script and to the actors to create in the minds of the audience the visualization of the characters and events of the times.

Marc P. and Susan L. Smith ; Tribute evening for Freya von Moltke, January 23, 2011, Goethe Institut-Boston. Photo courtesy of Stuart Dickstein