Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Arthur G. Haas

Committee Members

Edward Chmielewski, Edwin H. Trainer, Galen Broeker


The Kreisau Circle of the German resistance movement to National Socialism was first organized by Count Helmuth James von Moltke and Count Peter Yorck von Wartenburg in 1940. The circle's membership was composed of socialists, representatives of the Christian Churches, members of the Foreign Office and governmental administration, and East Elbian aristocrats. Until May 1943 the circle concentrated primarily on the formulation of a plan for the reconstruction of German society in a post-Nazi Europe. In drafting the program, three large conferences were held ay Moltke's estate of Kreisau in Silesia, from which the circle derived its name.

Between May 1943 and the early months of the following year, the circle passed through a transitional phase in its development. With the plans for a new government and society essentially completed in the summer of 1943, the circle gradually turned to concrete organizational preparation for X-Day, the day of Hitler's fall. The death of Carlo Mierendorff, one of the circle's leading figures, the arrest of Helmuth von Moltke, and the arrival of Colonel Claus von Stauffenburg in Berlin, all contributed to a reorientation of the circle's activities.

The circle did not collapse after the loss of Moltke, its co-leader. Instead, Yorck assumed the role of "business manager," and the circle continued to meet in his small house in the Hortensienstrasse until July 20, 1944. Yorck's cousin Stauffenburg, who became the center of the military resistance and planned to assassinate Hitler, gradually drew the Kreisau Circle into the active plans for the coup d' etat. Rather than being the "conscientious objectors of the resistance," as the Kreisauers are so often portrayed, Yorck, Adam von Trott zu Solz, Julius Leber, and their friends participated in the political preparations for X-Day, which came on July 20, 1944.

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