Son of an anti-Nazi hero uses family estate to nurture democracy and rule of law
Slowly, appreciation for the Moltke legacy was reborn. Inspired by Helmuth James, individuals in Poland and East Germany vowed to turn crumbling Kreisau into a "New Kreisau," an international meeting place for young people. Freya became honorary chair of the New Kreisau Center for European Mutual Understanding.
Moltke took over that role upon his mother's death two years ago. A retired lawyer, he lives in Montreal and New England with his wife, but works intensely for the New Kreisau. "We have our property back, but in a different way," he says. "It is now serving a useful purpose."
Thousands of youths from Germany to Ukraine, Belarus to Afghanistan, converge on Kreisau each year to participate in workshops designed to continue the Moltke family's legacy – the protection of human rights and advocacy for democracy and tolerance.
Hitler no longer endangers Europe. But the extremism ignited by Europe's current economic upheavals could. Passing on his parents' ideals represents the best way there is to "inoculate" young people today against extremist ideology, Moltke says.
As the most visible spokesperson for Kreisau, Moltke epitomizes the ability of former enemies – Germany and Poland – to turn hatred into reconciliation. "A lot of terrible history happened between Russia and Poland, and between Germany and Poland," says Moltke, who was 6 years old when Hitler's Gestapo (secret police) hanged his father.