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The Lahr von Leitis Archive
Collecting – Preserving – Remembering
Libertas Schulze-Boysen
Libertas Schulze-Boysen
Libertas Schulze-Boysen was born in 1913 in Paris as the youngest daughter of Otto Haas-Heye and Countess Victoria zu Eulenburg-Hertefeld. She grew up on Liebenberg, the estate of her grandfather in Brandenburg, outside Berlin.
In 1921, her parents divorced. Her father, Otto Haas-Heye, worked as a professor of art at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School for Applied Arts) in Berlin, which was housed in Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse No. 8. Later the building became the headquarters of the Gestapo. Otto Haas-Heye sent his daughter to attend the lyceum in Zurich, where she got her university-entrance diploma in March of 1932.
Immediately following her diploma, Libertas lived for nine months in England. In 1933 she was hired as press assistant at the Berlin office of the film company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
In the summer of 1934, she met Harro Schulze-Boysen while sailing. In July of 1936 Harro and Libertas got married. After their marriage, Libertas continued working mainly as a journalist. She also did translations for her husband. From November 1941 on, she was employed at the Deutsche Kulturzentrale (German Central Office for Culture).
On September 8, 1942, Libertas Schulze-Boysen was arrested in Berlin. During her three months in prison she wrote some very moving poems. The gravity and sober language of those poems forms a stark contrast to the somewhat naïve, childlike and light-hearted poems of the young Libertas. These poems along with Libertas’s letters to her mother, show the enormous maturity, calmness and wisdom of the 29-year-old in the face of death and are a grand testimony of humanity and dignity. On December 22, 1942, Libertas Schulze-Boysen was executed by the Nazi-Regime.
Libertas Schulze-Boysen and her husband Harro, along with Arvid Harnack and his wife Mildred (who was an American), formed the nucleus of the so-called “Red Orchestra”, a resistance group fighting Hitler and his regime. The “Red Orchestra” was one of the biggest and most diverse resistance groups: women and men, Christians and Marxists, workers, intellectuals and artists, they all gathered in this group, united by their opposition to the Nazi Regime. For years they helped German Jews and political dissidents to escape and also provided vital intelligence to both the US and Russia. In the summer of 1942 the Gestapo discovered their activities and arrested over 100 members of the group. More of 50 of them were sentenced to death and executed, among them Libertas Schulze-Boysen.
After 1945 the historical contributions of the “Red Orchestra” were discussed very controversially and its achievements were often falsely labeled as pro-communist. Starting in the early 90’s the access to hitherto inaccessible documents in archives in Prague and Moscow helped to correct and re-write the history of Libertas Schulze-Boysen and her circle.

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