The Power of Solitude: My Life in the German Resistance

The Power of Solitude: My Life in the German Resistance

by Marion Yorck von Wartenburg
     
 

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“Dearly beloved Child of my Heart, we are probably standing at the end of our beautiful and rich life together. Because tomorrow the People’s Court intends to sit in judgment on me and others. I hear that we have been expelled from the army. They can take the uniform from us, but not the spirit in which we acted.”—Peter Yorck

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Overview

“Dearly beloved Child of my Heart, we are probably standing at the end of our beautiful and rich life together. Because tomorrow the People’s Court intends to sit in judgment on me and others. I hear that we have been expelled from the army. They can take the uniform from us, but not the spirit in which we acted.”—Peter Yorck von Wartenburg, in a letter to his wife.

Marion Yorck von Wartenburg was involved in the Nazi resistance group known as the Kreisau Circle, whose cofounder was her husband, Peter. The Kreisau Circle participated in the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. Peter’s cousin Claus Stauffen-berg and other members of the military resistance carried out the attempt. When they failed, hundreds of people were arrested, tried, and executed, including Peter. Marion and other members of the conspirators’ families were also arrested and spent months jailed under miserable conditions. In this memoir Marion recreates the terrifying reality of her life as the wife of a resistance fighter and at the same time conveys the depth of the bond that existed between her and her husband.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
This is a fascinating book. Transcribed from an "oral history," the translation is so skillfully done that it's virtually impossible to say "this was never written by a native speaker of English." This particular edition is distinguished by its translator's note which talks, among other things, about the difficulties of saying in English what is generally not expressed in that language but is quite common in German. There is also an introduction by Peter Hoffmann, a 25-page essay that brings the war years to life. To an American born after the end of WW II, used to hearing mainly about the lack of German involvement in resistance (to Hitler) of any kind, the actual existence of many Resistance groups is a revelation. Assassination attempts were made on Hitler, in the face of overwhelming odds, at various times through 1943-45. The "White Rose" group was composed mainly of students; the "Kreisau Circle" was founded by Marion Yorck von Wartenburg's husband, Peter, and included members of the military, all the way up to generals. This group tried to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. When the attempt failed, hundreds of people were arrested, and many were executed, including Peter Yorck. Peter Hoffmann, in summarizing his introduction, says, "Their self-sacrificial attempts to resist Hitler" gave Germany a moral perspective for facing her recent history. The memoir itself is almost like a diary, chronicling everything that occurred in Marion's life—her childhood and adolescence and beyond, her education in the law, her marriage to the man who was truly her "soul mate," her horrific experiences during the war and the not-much-better experiences of the peace that followed. It's all coveredwithout sentimentality, but with tremendous feeling. The subject will probably appeal to older high school students and adults. For these the book is highly recommended. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Univ. of Nebraska, Bison, 96p, 22cm, 99-42656, $15.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Judith H. Silverman; Chevy Chase, MD, July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
Library Journal
At first glance, the memoirs of the wife of a central figure in the plot to assassinate Hitler should be a compelling historical document, especially as Yorck von Wartenburg was the first female judge to sit on the bench of the Federal Republic of Germany. Yet with only 80 pages of reminiscences, there is just not that much here. The author knew many important figures of the German Resistance and even went to school with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She married Peter Yorck von Wartenburg, a cofounder of the Kreisau Circle (which participated in the assassination attempt), and thus had intimate knowledge of its celebrated bomb plot against Hitler. Surprisingly lightweight--in some ways, the book reminds one of an evening with grandmother--this memoir does not provide enough historically important material to merit the attention of anyone but the most serious scholar of the July 20, 1944 plot. Peter Hoffmann's brilliant introduction to the German Resistance is wasted, and the price seems a bit high for this bit of fluff. Recommended only for larger academic collections specializing in World War II studies.--Randall L. Schroeder, Lib. in Exile, Wartburg Coll., Waverly, IA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Bloomsbury Review

"One of the great questions about the Nazi era in Germany has always been why no organized opposition emerged until the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Hitler's life in 1944. Marion Yorck von Wartenburg's The Power of Solitude addresses this issue with remarkable clarity. . . .Von Wartenburg brings a personal perspective as she describes the arrest, trial, and execution of her husband and his friends, and her own arrest and imprisonment. . . . Her description of the years following the death of her husband and the end of the war is deeply moving. . . . This memoir . . . gives us a fascinating look at historical events from the perspective of a bravely defiant German woman. Her account supplies background information gained through her personal involvement in the resistance to Nazism and will be of special interest to any student of the period. It is also a well-told human story that will keep the reader glued to the book until its final moments."—Bloomsbury Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803299153
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
04/01/2000
Pages:
104
Product dimensions:
0.30(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)

Meet the Author

Julie M. Winter is co-director of the Foreign Language Institute in Helena, Montana, and the author of Luther Bible Research in the Context of Volkish Nationalism in the Twentieth Century. Peter Hoffmann is William Kingsford Professor of History at McGill University in Montreal. His works include Stauffenberg: A Family History, 1905–1944.

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