Berliner Zeitung
December 21-22, 2002

Our Death Must Be a Beacon
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 purposes.

      Libertas was Harro Schulze-Boysen’s 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 didn’t 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 Hitler’s “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 was decoded.

      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.

Martin Z. Schröder

Translation: Christine Schurtman

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