December 21-22, 2002
Our Death Must Be
Libertas Schulze-Boysen was executed 60 years ago
To this day, Libertas Schulze-Boysen
has remained 29 years old. Harro Schulze-Boysen and Arvid Harnack, both
working at ministries essential to the war effort, had been transmitting
information to the Soviet Union since 1941, because that seemed to them
the only power able to stand up to the Germans. The German counter-espionage
service named this more-than-100 member group Rote Kapelle
(Red Orchestra). Kapelle (orchestra) was the designation for
a radio station, and the color red indicated the direction of the broadcast.
The big orchestras broadcast from Brussels and Paris, and Berlin was a
branch. This group of independent spirits had never named itself. After
the war, this name was chosen by the East and the West for propaganda
Libertas was Harro Schulze-Boysens
wife. She was born in Paris in 1913. Her parents were the Berlin art professor
Otto Haas-Heye and Countess Victoria zu Eulenburg. Libertas owes her name
to her grandfather, who had given that name to the heroine of his Fairytale
of Freedom. The granddaughter, too, was a writer. She described
Mark Brandenburg, where she had grown up, the harvest festivals, the sun-tanned
hands and faces of the farm workers, and the shame she felt because her
hands didnt show any signs of work.
She graduated from high school in Zürich in 1932. In 1933, she joined
the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film company in Berlin. In youthful naiveté
she became a member of the NSDAP in 1933. The man she married in 1936,
on the other hand, had read Hitlers Mein Kampf
in 1930, and had made appearances at meetings against the Nazis, until
they beat him up. It was brave of Libertas to resign from the party in
1937. In September 1942, the couple was arrested after a radio message
On Thursday evening, at the St. Matthäus
church in the Berlin Cultural Forum, the actress Susanne Herlet read poems
and last letters from prison. Michael Lahr, program director of Elysium,
the organization for German-American cultural exchange, outlined the chronological
and geographic framework. Under the direction of Gregorij von Leïtis,
the readers sublimated their own personalities through the sparseness
of their movements. Simultaneously they sat down. Simultaneously they
opened their folders. In alternation between report and quote, a courageous,
dutiful, God-fearing woman emerged. Libertas wrote to her mother about
purification, as if she had secluded herself in a convent. In one poem,
she asks a woman, who is about to be released, to take along her eyes,
her senses, and her heart. The only thing she wants to retain is her suffering,
since through struggling with pain her soul will remain unconquered.
On her 29th birthday on November 20,
1942, she saw her mother and her brother Johannes Haas-Heye, who was present
at the reading on Thursday, for the last time. The next day, she expressed
her gratitude, in a letter, for the calm her mother and brother had given
her. She was looking forward to an advent wreath.
On December 24, 1942, her mother tried to drop off a Christmas package
and was turned away without being told that her child not only had been
sentenced, but had been beheaded on December 22, 1942. Her mother forced
her way into the Gestapo office, but did not receive any information.
She even got the judge on the telephone, who dismissed her brusquely.
Not until December 27 did she get the terrible telephone call.
In her farewell letter, Libertas wrote:
I love the world. I do not have any hatred. I have eternal spring.
The silver jewelry, which Libertas intended for her family in a second
letter, which was smuggled from the prison by the chaplain, as well as
her body, which she wanted to have buried in a sunny spot, disappeared.