Clarita von Trott: Activist whose husband was executed for plotting to assassinate Hitler

 

With the passing of Clarita von Trott zu Solz, the wife of Adam von Trott, the last living link with the German Resistance and the July Plot has gone. Clarita knew little of the preparations to kill Hitler – Adam kept her in the dark to protect her. But she knew from the start of their marriage that he was a member of the Resistance and heavily involved in what came to be called the Kreisau Circle. She was aware of the risks when he moved around wartime Europe, officially on Foreign Office missions for the third Reich, but actually attempting to negotiate with the Allies.

The assassination plot failed on 20 July 1944 and Adam was arrested five days later. On 15 August Clarita went to the People's Court, presided over by the appalling Judge Freisler, to try to reassure him by her presence (she already knew that, as part of Hitler's revenge on the conspirators and their families, their two young daughters, Verena and Clarita, aged two and a half and seven months, had been taken away by the Gestapo to an unknown destination, where their names would be changed). In the courtroom Clarita's identity was discovered and she was ejected; she was not allowed to visit Adam in his cell and soon she herself was imprisoned.

Adam was executed on 26 August. Clarita was held in prison for two months, then after her release set about finding her children. Hitler's imposition of sippenhaft – punishment of the families of wrong-doers – seems to have been a step too far and in early 1945 Clarita was reunited with her unharmed daughters. But they had no home; their Berlin flat had been destroyed in an Allied bombing raid.

After the war von Trott formed a strong bond with the wives of other members of the Resistance and they made considerable efforts to reveal exactly what the opposition to Hitler had done. There was a great deal of misinformation about Adam, and she eventually wrote a carefully researched and moving memoir of him which was published in 1994. She trained as a doctor, graduating in 1955. She specialised in psychiatry and neurology and trained in psychoanalysis; she practised in Berlin until she was 80.

Clarita Tiefenbacher was the eldest of four children. Her father was a successful Hamburg lawyer and the family lived in Reinbek, then a semi-rural outpost. Clarita did her Abitur, trained as a secretary, did farm work and travelled abroad. She met Adam in 1935, then later at the home of Peter and Christabel Bielenberg – Peter, like Adam, was training to be a lawyer.

They fell in love five years later. Adam wrote to his mother, "I believe I can make her happy, in so far as it is at all possible these days ... Hers is a humble yet brave, refined and serene nature; she understands what is most important to me in life and will help me to fight for it." The ceremony was in Reinbek on 8 June 1940; Clarita was eight years younger than her husband. They lived in Berlin, drove around in a ridiculously small Fiat Toppolino and inhabited a largish flat in Rheinbabenallee in Dahlem, although after the serious bombing raids began Clarita often took the children to Adam's ancestral home, Imshausen, in Hessen. Their daughter Verena was born in 1942 and Clarita a year later.

They were soon involved in the anti-Hitler groups, including the Kreisau Circle, which made up the scattered and uncoordinated Resistance. Adam was often away, supposedly on German Foreign Office business, but frequently passing on messages encouraging the Allies to state their willingness to negotiate with a new German government in the event of Hitler's removal.

The von Trotts' telephone was tapped from early on. Adam sometimes brought home incriminating documents, so Clarita never went to bed without having a box of matches ready to burn the papers and flush the ashes down the lavatory. When she was at Imshausen, Adam would write to her using a simple but often rather confusing code to impart information.

Adam never mentioned Stauffenberg by name, but Clarita knew he had met someone he admired intensely and who offered hope of effective action against Hitler. Unfortunately Stauffenberg's driver conscientiously recorded his seven visits to Adam and this eventually led to Adam's arrest.

Clarita saw her husband for the last time in June 1944 at Imshausen. They walked in the woods and on a mountain close by and played with their children. Letters from Adam grew more infrequent in the following month; she became desperate to speak to him and rang him in Berlin on the morning of the attempt on Hitler's life. After the coup failed he rang her every day while he waited for the inevitable knock on the door

Before he died Adam wrote a moving last letter to Clarita, which she did not receive until 1945. "Before all else, forgive me for the deep sorrow I had to cause you. Rest assured that in my thoughts I remain with you and I die in profound trust and faith… There would be so much to write still, but there is no time. May God keep you. I know that you will not let yourself be defeated and that you will struggle through to a life where I shall be in spirit standing by your side even if you seem to be all alone. I pray for strength for you – and please do the same for me… God bless you and the little ones, in steadfast love, your Adam."

Clarita dealt with her grief by honouring Adam's memory and by confronting the often ambiguous feelings some of her countrymen had about the July Plot. As recently as 2004 she said it had been important for her to clear her husband's name from the charge of "betraying his country". She also felt Adam had been much misunderstood in England and that his character had been distorted in Christopher Sykes' 1969 biography, Troubled Loyalty. More recently she was disappointed that an authoritative new book about him by the German historian Benigna von Krusenstjern had not yet found an English publisher.

Clarita joined with Adam's family in creating a memorial to him at the highest point in the Trottenwald, the wood surrounding the family's home. It reads: "Adam von Trott zu Solz. Executed with his friends in the struggle against the despoiler of our homeland. Pray for him. Heed their example." Her ashes now lie close to this cross.

Clarita Tiefenbacher, psychiatrist and anti-Nazi activist: born Hamburg 19 September 1917; married 1940 Adam von Trott zu Solz (died 1944; two daughters); died 28 March 2013.

Travel
travel
Sport
football
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Sales Representative, Leicester

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Sales Representative, Birmingham

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

HR Administration Manager - Hounslow, West London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Administration Manager...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment