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Die Widerstandskämpfer von Göttingen: Zwei Studenten leisten Widerstand gegen Hitler

Göttingen. Adam von Trott zu Solz and Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg were members of the conspiracy circle around Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, who detonated a bomb in the Wolf’s Lair headquarters on July 20, 1944. Adolf Hitler survived the assassination attempt, and the resistance fighters were executed. Two of the co-conspirators were members of the Göttingen Corps Saxonia. Memorial plaques were dedicated to them at the former fraternity house.

Resistance fighter von der Schulenburg: From joining the Nazi party to becoming a Hitler opponent
Two of the „Göttingen Memorial Plaques“ are located at Theaterplatz 5, each dedicated to Adam von Trott zu Solz and Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg, both labeled as „resistance fighters“. The house at Theaterplatz was the fraternity house of Saxonia, a fraternity founded by Göttingen students in the 19th century.

The older of the two, von der Schulenburg, studied law at Georgia Augusta University starting in 1920 and, according to his father’s wishes and his older brother’s example, joined the Saxonia fraternity. His father hoped that he would gain discipline, order, and political orientation with a nationalist and anti-republican mindset. After completing his studies, Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg had a successful career as an administrative lawyer. In 1932, he joined the Nazi party and strongly supported its political goals. He saw the pursuit of national socialism and the rule of law in the Prussian tradition as the core of the party’s political program.

Von der Schulenburg recruited Stauffenberg and was assassinated after June 20, 1944
At the age of 35, he became the deputy police president of Berlin and two years later the government president of Silesia. Already in 1938, he had contact with circles of the military resistance and increasingly had to grapple with the conflict between his „Prussian-aristocratic principles shaped by Protestant ethos“ (Hans Mommsen) and the regime’s unlawful politics.

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At his own request, he joined the Wehrmacht as a reserve officer in 1940 and served in the famous Infantry Regiment 9, which was known as the „Graf 9 Regiment“ due to its high proportion of noble officers. As the military defeat of the Wehrmacht became foreseeable in the winter of 1941/42 and the crimes of the regime in the occupied territories of the East became increasingly apparent, von der Schulenburg became the most active organizer of the military resistance, recruited Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg as a co-conspirator, and sought to bring together the different groups of civilian and military resistance fighters and coordinate their plans. After the failed assassination attempt on July 20, 1944, he was arrested on the same day in the Bendlerblock in Berlin and sentenced to death by the „People’s Court“ on August 10. He was hanged on the same day in Plötzensee. The memorial plaque at the former fraternity house was requested by the Saxonia fraternity and unveiled on July 3, 2004.

Adam von Trott zu Solz: An opponent of the Nazi regime from the beginning
Adam von Trott zu Solz enrolled at the University of Göttingen for law studies in the winter semester of 1927. Following his father’s wish for „self-control and fairness“ (Benigna von Krusenstjern), he joined the Saxonia fraternity but lived in the fraternity house for only a short time. After passing the legal clerkship exam in 1930 and obtaining his doctorate in 1931, he spent time abroad in Geneva and Liverpool. Continuing his studies from 1933, he became an ardent opponent of the Nazi regime based on his experiences and impressions abroad and sought contacts with both conservative and communist opponents of the regime. He wrote memoranda advocating understanding and support for German opponents of the Nazi regime in England and the United States.

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Von Trott zu Solz was a link in the Nazi resistance
As an employee of the Foreign Office since 1940, he became an important contact between the civil and military resistance movements and participated in the exchange of information between the Kreisau Circle and the group around Stauffenberg. Five days after the failed assassination attempt on July 20, Adam von Trott zu Solz was arrested, sentenced to death on August 15, and executed in Berlin-Plötzensee eleven days later.

The memorial plaque was donated by his biographer, Dr. Benigna von Krusenstjern, and unveiled on July 9, 1999.

The exploration of Nazi resistance after the war
On April 9, 1945, four weeks before the surrender of the German Wehrmacht, the Second World War ended in Göttingen with the occupation by an American unit. The city was relatively unscathed, allowing the University of Göttingen to resume teaching and research operations as the first German university for the winter semester of 1945/46. Among the students of this first post-war semester were many who had experienced the war as soldiers or officers. Like society, administration, and justice, they and the professors faced a political reorientation after the end of the Nazi regime, and not all of them were immediately convinced democrats.


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