Helene Elisabeth von Isenburg

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Helene Elisabeth Princess von Isenburg (born April 6, 1900 in Darmstadt as Countess von Korff, called Schmising-Kerssenbrock; † January 24, 1974 in Heiligenhaus ) was the first president of the Silent Aid Society for POWs and internees after the Second World War .


Helene Elisabeth Princess von Isenburg was born as the daughter of the forester from Hatzfeld (Eder) , Count Alfred von Korff , called Schmising-Kerssenbrock, and his wife Helene, nee. Freiin von Hilgers, born.

She grew up in a family that was heavily influenced by Catholicism . In the 1920s and 1930s she worked as a naturopath. On April 30, 1930, she married Wilhelm Prinz von Isenburg and Büdingen (1903–1956), who in 1937 became a professor of clan and family research in Munich and who represented the racial ideology of National Socialism . She herself was classified as “politically reliable” by the NSDAP .

History and establishment of the breastfeeding aid

Shortly after the end of the war, a large number of groups and associations formed (e.g. the “Working Group for the Rescue of Landsberg Prisoners” or the “Working Committee for Truth and Justice”), all of which had the aim of arresting and interned Nazi war criminals To support SS officials in custody, be it through interventions with the Allied occupation authorities or through legal aid. At the same time, these organizations supported the families of the detainees. In addition, they also helped escape via the so-called rat line, organized by Bishop Alois Hudal , via South Tyrol and Rome , mainly to South America , but also to the Middle East ( Syria , Egypt ).

Helene Elisabeth Princess von Isenburg had been active in several groups since 1946. Her contacts with the nobility, with conservative upper-class circles and her close ties to the Catholic Church quickly made her a figure of integration. She won leading representatives of the Catholic Church such as Munich Auxiliary Bishop Johannes Neuhäusler , but also the Protestant regional bishop of Württemberg , Theophil Wurm , for collaboration.

After the main actors of the later association had long since formed an active network, a non-profit association should be founded, primarily in order to increase the amount of donations due to the tax relief. On October 7, 1951, the Silent Help for Prisoners of War and Internees e. V. was formally founded and registered on November 15, 1951 as a non-profit association in the register of associations in Wolfratshausen, Upper Bavaria . Helene Elisabeth, Princess of Isenburg, was elected first president.

The founding board included the president and a. Auxiliary Bishop Neuhäusler, Regional Bishop Wurm, the Munich lawyer Rudolf Aschenauer as legal advisor, as well as several high-ranking former Nazi functionaries.

The "mother of the Landsbergers"

On January 1, 1947, the US military administration set up in the prison hospital Landsberg the war criminal prison Landsberg (War Criminal Prison No. 1). Landsberg was also chosen because in 1923/24 Adolf Hitler had served almost 9 months of imprisonment there and Rudolf Hess , Julius Streicher and Gregor Strasser were also imprisoned there during this time . Almost all of the Subsequent Nuremberg processes ( flyer processes , Malmedy process , the physician process , Einsatzgruppen Trial , Krupp Trial , OKW process , Race and Settlement Office process , Wilhelmstrasse process ) indicted and convicted defendants sat one in Landsberg. A total of 288 death sentences were carried out there by June 7, 1951 .

The Nazi criminals were usually portrayed in press actions as innocent victims and pure order recipients and followers. Also to Pope Pius XII. appealed Helene Elisabeth von Isenburg with a letter dated November 4, 1950: “ I know everyone who is at stake. Nobody can talk about guilt and crime anymore who has looked into their souls ... Holy Father, you ask, completely in confidence, the mother of the Landsbergers. “Six days later, Pius XII promised. the princess, “ that everything will be done from Rome to save the life of the Landsbergers. "

In the Federal Republic of Germany the campaign “Christmas in Landsberg” was called. Letters of protest should be written to the American High Commissioner John Jay McCloy , and leading politicians, and donations should be collected. The actions of the Princess and Silent Aid increased so much that McCloy had to publicly warn of a "resurgence of Nazism". Most of the appeals for clemency were ultimately successful, with almost all death sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Federal President Theodor Heuss refused to personally receive Princess Isenburg, but in individual cases stood up for prisoners sentenced to death because the newly founded Federal Republic of Germany had abolished the death penalty - not out of sympathy with the convicted.

After the last executed death sentences in 1951, the prisoners were gradually released early in the following years through pardons or for health reasons, until the last prisoner was able to leave the Landsberg war crimes prison in 1958 .

Helene Elisabeth Princess von Isenburg resigned from her position as President of Silent Aid on October 26, 1959 for health reasons, but remained closely associated with the association as "Honorary Chairman" and contact person until her death on January 24, 1974 in Heiligenhaus.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945 . Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Second updated edition, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 279.