Elisabeth von Thadden

Elisabeth von Thadden was born in Mohrungen, East Prussia on July 29, 1890. The eldest ofAdolf von Thadden, district administrator, and his wife Ehrengard's five children, she grew up in Pomerania. The family estate of Trieglaff, where the family resided from 1903 onward, was a traditionally open home with guests from different social, political and ecclesiastical milieus. At the age of thirty, Elisabeth von Thadden left her parent’s estate to make a life for herself.

After working at the children’s village in Heuberg in the Swabian Mountains and at the boarding school in Salem, Thadden made her vision of a school with a pronounced Protestant character reality when she founded a rural boarding school in Wieblingen in 1927.

The threat of war moved her to relocate parts of the school to Tutzing on Lake Starnberg on October 5, 1939. Incriminations and interrogations by the Gestapo and SD there began mounting in the summer of 1940. She was accused of secretly running a confessional school primarily attended by young noblewomen. Since her school’s accreditation was supposed to be withdrawn, von Thadden returned to Baden once again at Easter of 1941. However, the Baden Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs had already revoked her accreditation to head her school in May of 1941. Forced to abandon her life’s work, she moved to Berlin and found a job with the German Red Cross.

A “tea party” she hosted on her sister Marie-Agnes Braune’s birthday on September 10, 1943 was her undoing. In addition to the guests – friends and acquaintances critical of the regime – a Gestapo informer had also obtained an invitation. Following her denunciation by this doctor from Berlin, the SS arrested von Thadden on January 13, 1944 in Meaux, France where she had been posted as a Red Cross worker. She was sentenced to death by the People’s Court under Roland Freisler on July 1 and executed in Berlin-Plötzensee on September 8, 1944.

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