Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg
Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg (born November 13, 1904 at Gut Klein Oels (since 1945: Oleśnica Mała , district of Ohlau , Province of Lower Silesia ); † August 8, 1944 in Berlin-Plötzensee ) was a German lawyer and prominent resistance fighter against National Socialism , who was at the core of the July 20, 1944 conspirators .
Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg comes from the Prussian noble family Yorck von Wartenburg . The Silesian family was when he was born in 1904, for a century in Germany mainly because of a name carrier known: Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg (1759-1830), his great-great grandfather. This had in 1812/13 in the wars of liberation against France with his courageous decision, against the order of his king Friedrich Wilhelm III. to act and to enter into a neutrality agreement with Russia in the Tauroggen Convention , given a twist. Ludwig Yorck took the first step towards the liberation of Prussia and Germany from Napoleonic rule on his own responsibility, not in blind fulfillment of his duties ; for this merit he was raised to the rank of count in 1814 and received as a donation the secularized Johanniter - Kommende Klein-Öls in the Lower Silesian district of Ohlau . The Kreisau Circle referred by name to the “ tradition of Tauroggen ” cultivated in the Yorck family to follow one's conscience regardless of external circumstances.
The son of the " old Yorck ", Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg (1804-1865), was married to Bertha von Brause , the daughter of the director of the General War School , Johann Georg Emil von Brause , and was one of the founders of the Old Liberal Party . He stood up for Jewish emancipation , for the reorganization of agricultural relations and the expansion of civil rights. Since 1854 he was a hereditary member of the Prussian mansion , where as a liberal he was almost always on the side of the minority. His friends and acquaintances included Friedrich Karl von Savigny , Karl August Varnhagen von Ense , Friedrich von Schelling , Karl Friedrich Schinkel , who erected the family mausoleum in Klein-Öls, Bettina von Arnim , Alexander von Humboldt and, last but not least, Ludwig Tieck , who Yorck owned Library bequeathed - the basis of the Yorck'schen private library, which was ultimately the largest aristocratic library in Germany with around 150,000 volumes.
Peter Yorck's grandfather, Count Paul Yorck von Wartenburg (1835–1897), married Louise Rahel von Wildenbruch (1838–1918), the sister of the poet Ernst von Wildenbruch , after studying law in Bonn and Breslau . Her father, Louis von Wildenbruch , was an illegitimate son of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia ; In this way, Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg was also a descendant of King Friedrich Wilhelm I (" Soldier King ") and thus related to the Hohenzollerns . Paul Yorck wrote important philosophical writings and after the death of his father in 1865 also belonged to the manor as a liberal. He took part in all wars of unification and was present at the proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor in Versailles in 1871.
Peter Yorck's father, Heinrich Graf Yorck von Wartenburg (1861–1923), also sat in the manor house and also represented the interests of the Groß-Wartenberg district from 1894 to 1897 and those of the Ohlau district from 1898 to 1901 . In 1901 the liberal, free-conservative Yorck, who liked to describe himself as “ His Majesty's opposition loyal to him ”, resigned in protest against an imperial measure: Wilhelm II had dismissed five district administrators in Schleswig-Holstein who had voted against the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal . Yorck demonstratively resigned; he did not want to be embarrassed about being thrown out because of a difference of opinion with the emperor. His conviction that he would remain true to his principles and values even against the state or the sovereign, he instilled in his children. He spoke seven languages and was universally educated. The ancient Greece was his spiritual home and his classical education he gave to Peter Yorck on. His mother, Sophie Countess Yorck von Wartenburg (1872–1945), was born Freiin von Berlichingen and a descendant of Götz von Berlichingen . Peter Yorck was born in 1904 into this tradition of an extraordinary, humanistically educated Prussian noble family with a liberal-conservative basic attitude.
Youth at Klein-Öls and in Roßleben
Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg was born on November 13, 1904, the fifth of ten children of the Silesian district administrator Heinrich Graf Yorck von Wartenburg . He grew up almost exclusively on the family estate, Klein-Öls, near Breslau . The defining figure of his childhood was his father, who gave his children a comprehensive humanistic education. The atmosphere in which Peter Yorck grew up was characterized on the one hand by a demanding artistic interest, and on the other by Prussian tradition: duty was capitalized, but always linked to personal reflection. His brother Paul later wrote that "a Christianity with Lutheran stamps, ancient Greece and the crown of Prussia" were the most important components of their upbringing. Peter Yorck, who was tutored exclusively by private tutors until he was 16 , was seen more as a quiet, withdrawn child. How much the father Heinrich Graf Yorck was at home in the humanistic-Hellenic tradition shows that the Platonic dialogues were occasionally read in the original text. Even Goethe played a major role: Heinrich Yorck gathered in the evening his children around him, regardless of age, and said in poems that went to him straight through the head. In this way, Peter Yorck knew hundreds of Goethe's poems and large parts of Faust by heart, which was later useful to him during his imprisonment in a concentration camp, cut off from all books. Joachim Ringelnatz dedicates a chapter of his autobiography about his almost one-year stay there in 1912 to a lively description of the atmosphere in Klein-Oels . Noble “peers” tended to avoid Klein-Öl, given so much education; The family only kept in touch with them during the regular hunts. Playmates of the same age, on the other hand, were the children of the Breslau professors, who were frequent guests.
In October 1920 Peter Yorck entered the evangelical, humanistic monastery school Roßleben in the province of Saxony , today Thuringia . The traditional elite high school, founded in 1554, had already been completed by his older brother Paul. His classmates also included later co-conspirators against Hitler: Ulrich Wilhelm Graf Schwerin von Schwanenfeld , Albrecht von Kessel , Ernst von Borsig junior , Wolf von Gersdorff and Nikolaus von Halem . He befriended Schwerin and Kessel in particular, and they remained on friendly terms in all phases of life. During this time, Yorck also went through a change in his political perspective: While he had rejected the November Revolution of 1918 under the influence of his father and family tradition , he now increasingly came to terms with the Weimar Republic , although Yorck was always a conservative critic of the Republic and supporter of a parliamentary monarchy remained. Nevertheless, from his value-conservative point of view , he accepted the development of modern society. Yorck's father Heinrich died on February 22, 1923. However, Klein-Öls had already been transferred to the eldest brother Paul as a family fideikommiss . Two months later, Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg passed his matriculation examination in Roßleben.
Studied in Bonn and Breslau
After graduating from high school in Roßleben, Yorck enrolled to study law and political science at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn . In 1923 he became a member of the Corps Borussia Bonn . Yorck's brother Paul Graf Yorck von Wartenburg was also active at Borussia .
On October 30, 1924, after three semesters in Bonn, Yorck continued his studies at the Silesian Friedrich Wilhelms University in Breslau, where he also stayed for three semesters. There he kept in touch with his former school friend, Count Schwerin von Schwanenfeld. On October 14, 1926, Peter Yorck took his legal traineeship in Breslau, before starting his legal traineeship at the local courts in Wansen and Brieg and at the local court in Brieg in Silesia a month later . In October 1927, Yorck wrote his legal doctorate in Breslau, entitled “ The liability of corporations under public law for measures of the workers 'and soldiers' councils ” and was submitted to Hans Helfritz . Despite its clear Prussian-conservative point of view, the work reveals Yorck's recognition of the Weimar Republic in the choice and manner of dealing with the topic.
In April 1928 Peter Yorck met Marion Winter , lawyer and daughter of the general director of the state theaters, from Berlin-Grunewald at a wedding party of relatives in Silesia . Marion Winter found him haughty at first, but she felt attracted to him. Both remained friends for two years and Yorck visited them every two weeks in Berlin. In the autumn, Marion Winter traveled to Klein-Öls for the first time, where she was soon called " Countess Peter ". After working for a few months in a law firm in Berlin, Peter Yorck moved on December 20, 1928 as a trainee lawyer to the Court of Appeal and the Central District Court.
Lawyer in Löwenberg, Berlin and Silesia
“By the way, Peter was [...] previously a rather apolitical person. [...] By nature he was more of an artistic and thoughtful person. "
During his studies in Breslau, Yorck was able to establish contacts with Professors Eugen Rosenstock , Gerhard Schultze-Gaevernitz and Hans Peters and with them through the establishment of a committee to investigate the economic and social conditions in the Waldenburg coal mining area , at that time one of the poorest areas in Central Europe. In 1928 the " Löwenberg Labor Camp " was founded, which took place from March 14th to April 1st and was repeated in 1929 and 1930. Interested students, young workers and young farmers from all political camps met in the Löwenberg working group in order to overcome the division of society in classes and camps and to work out concrete results on the problem of the Waldenburg district . Many later members of the Kreisau Circle met there for the first time under the direction of Professor Eugen Rosenstock. Besides Yorck von Wartenburg, the participants also included Horst von Einsiedel , Carl-Dietrich von Trotha , Theodor Steltzer , Adolf Reichwein and, last but not least, Helmuth James von Moltke . First about the family connections (Moltke's uncle was married to an older sister of Peter Yorck) both had lively conversations with each other. Later a close friendship developed between Moltke and Yorck, which was of great importance for the entire resistance against National Socialism; the initiative to found the Kreisau Circle was based on them in equal parts. The “ Löwenberg labor camps” can be regarded as the forerunners of the Kreisau Circle in terms of both personnel and ideology.
After Yorck got engaged to Marion Winter in Klein-Öls on June 29, 1929, both married on May 31, 1930 in Berlin. Two days after Peter Yorck had passed his assessor exam, the wedding took place in the Trinity Church , followed by the wedding banquet in the Hotel Kaiserhof . The couple moved into a shared apartment and soon made new friends, including the poet and lord of Zollchow , Martin von Katte , and the banker Hermann Josef Abs . Meanwhile, Peter's brother Paul Yorck was the landlord of Klein-Öls. Peter and Marion Yorck themselves moved into the Kauern manor house, which belonged to the family fideikommiss . In June 1930, Yorck completed his remaining legal clerkship at the district court in Wansen, Silesia, before he started working for the law firm “ Dr. A. Lindgens ”worked in Berlin. During this time he commuted between Berlin and Klein-Öls, where he could mostly only spend the weekends. From October 1, 1931, Yorck worked as a court assessor at the Opole district court . In the end, however, he decided to pursue an administrative career , which he embarked on when he joined the " Commissariat for Eastern Aid " and was made civil servant on April 1, 1932.
Resistance to National Socialism
“If we imagine that we are something like an elite, or that we have a leadership role, then we have failed, namely towards the common man, the worker, because otherwise the Third Reich should not have happened. We have a debt to make up for the German workers, so we have to get rid of this regime. "
Described as a "socialist count" by his later fellow resistance fighter Hans Bernd Gisevius , the liberal-conservative Prussian Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg rejected the Nazi ideology from the start. Since he refused to join the NSDAP out of democratic and humanist convictions , he was no longer promoted since 1938 after he had moved to the Upper Presidium of Breslau in 1934 and to the Commissioner for Pricing in 1936 and came despite his achievements recognized by his superiors and ability as an administrative expert not beyond the rank of senior councilor. After the November pogroms in 1938 , he and his friends Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg and Ulrich Wilhelm Graf Schwerin von Schwanenfeld founded a discussion group on the principles of an imperial constitution after the end of National Socialism. At the beginning of the Second World War he was deployed as a lieutenant in the position of adjutant in a tank regiment, and from 1942 - not able to be used at the front due to a spinal disc disease - in the armaments ministry. The death of his brothers during the German invasion of Poland increased his opposition to the regime and the rejection of the war while he was still in service.
Through Helmuth James Graf von Moltke , with whom he had a close friendship since January 1940, Yorck came into contact with various opponents of the regime, such as Moltke's cousin Berthold Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and Adam von Trott zu Solz . Together with Moltke, he was one of the founding members and influential personalities of the Kreisau Circle , which emerged in 1940 and brought together representatives of various political and social groups to develop plans for a Germany after the end of the Nazi regime. When Moltke's Berlin apartment was bombed out in 1943, he moved to Yorck von Wartenburg's apartment at Hortensienstrasse 50 in Berlin-Lichterfelde . Unlike Moltke, Yorck welcomed an assassination attempt on Hitler and, after Moltke's arrest and closer contact with his cousin Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg , urged the rapid implementation of the attack plans.
Three meetings of the district took place in the so-called Berghaus, the home of the Moltke family near Kreisau Castle in Kreisau , but more often in the Yorck's apartment on Hortensienstrasse. For the last meeting before the attack, the conspirators (Stauffenberg represented by his adjutant Werner von Haeften ) met at Jens Peter Jessen's in the nearby Limonenstrasse. Even after the war, several former members of the opposition came to live in the immediate vicinity of Yorck's apartment on Hortensienstrasse, some of them through the agency of Yorck's widow , such as Jessen's survivors, the later Bundestag President Eugen Gerstenmaier and the later Berlin Senator for Culture Joachim Tiburtius .
After the failed assassination attempt and attempted coup on July 20, 1944, in the event of which Count Peter Yorck von Wartenburg was scheduled in the Beck / Goerdeler shadow cabinet as State Secretary of Vice Chancellor Wilhelm Leuschner , he was arrested on the evening of July 20 in the Bendler Block . Sentenced to death by the People's Court in August 1944 and hanged on the same day in the execution site of the Berlin-Plötzensee prison on the express orders of Hitler .
In 1945 the story Der Leutnant Yorck von Wartenburg by Stephan Hermlin appeared , which was filmed in 1981.
Documents and memories
- Marion Countess Yorck von Wartenburg : The strength of silence. Story of a life from the German resistance. Written down by Claudia Schmölders . Cologne 1984, ISBN 3-87067-717-1 .
- Marion Countess Dönhoff : For the sake of honor. Memories of the friends of July 20th. Siedler, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-88680-532-8 .
- Günter Brakelmann : Peter Yorck von Wartenburg, 1904–1944. A biography. CH Beck, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-63019-4 .
- Günter Brakelmann: Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg. In: Sebastian Sigler (ed.): Corps students in the resistance against Hitler. Duncker & Humblot , Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-428-14319-1 , pp. 65-87.
- Matthias Kroeger : About the preciousness of courage and clarity. The political and religious message of Counts Helmuth James von Moltke and Peter York von Wartenburg from the Kreisau resistance group against Hitler and National Socialism. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-17-021728-7 .
- Gerhard Ringshausen : Confessing Church and Resistance. The example of the brothers Paul and Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg. In: Katarzyna Stokłosa, Andrea Strübind (ed.): Faith, Freedom, Dictatorship in Europe and the USA. Festschrift for Gerhard Besier for his 60th birthday. Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-525-35089-8 , pp. 57-91.
- Frédérique Dantonel : York von Wartenburg, Peter Graf. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 27, Bautz, Nordhausen 2007, ISBN 978-3-88309-393-2 , Sp. 1567-1574.
- Literature by and about Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg in the catalog of the German National Library
- Susanne Eckelmann: Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg. Tabular curriculum vitae in the LeMO ( DHM and HdG )
- Short biography of the German Resistance Memorial Center
- Photograph of the Wartenburgs before the People's Court
- Wolfgang Benz : Witzleben, Erwin von, among others In: Kurt Groenewold , Alexander Ignor, Arnd Koch (Hrsg.): Lexicon of Political Criminal Processes . Online, as of March 2020.
- Wilhelm Ernst Winterhager (Ed.): The Kreisau Circle. Portrait of a resistance group. Accompanying volume to an exhibition of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Berlin 1985, p. 22.
- Sebastian Haffner : Prussia without a legend. 2nd Edition. Gruner and Jahr, Hamburg 1979, p. 178 f.
- Günter Brakelmann : The Kreisau Circle. Chronology, short biographies and texts from the resistance (= series of publications of the research community July 20, 1944. Vol. 3). 2nd, corrected edition. Lit, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7025-1 , p. 131.
- Günter Brakelmann : The Kreisau Circle. Chronology, short biographies and texts from the resistance (= series of publications of the research community July 20, 1944. Vol. 3). 2nd, corrected edition. Lit, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7025-1 , p. 132.
- Marion Countess Dönhoff : For the sake of honor. Memories of the friends of July 20th. Siedler, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-88680-532-8 , p. 114.
- Marion Countess Dönhoff : For the sake of honor. Memories of the friends of July 20th. Siedler, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-88680-532-8 , p. 115.
- Peter Steinbach : July 20, 1944. Faces of resistance. Siedler, Munich 2004, p. 83.
- Wilhelm Ernst Winterhager (Ed.): The Kreisau Circle. Portrait of a resistance group. Accompanying volume to an exhibition of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Berlin 1985, p. 23.
- Peter Steinbach : July 20, 1944. Faces of resistance. Siedler, Munich 2004, pp. 83–84.
- Marion Countess Yorck von Wartenburg : The strength of the silence. Story of a life from the German resistance. Written down by Claudia Schmölders . Cologne 1984, ISBN 3-87067-717-1 , p. 41.
- Joachim Ringelnatz: My life up to the war, Reinbek near Hamburg, 1966, p. 240 ff
- Marion Countess Dönhoff : For the sake of honor. Memories of the friends of July 20th. Siedler, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-88680-532-8 , p. 116.
- Günter Brakelmann : The Kreisau Circle. Chronology, short biographies and texts from the resistance (= series of publications of the research community July 20, 1944. Vol. 3). 2nd, corrected edition. Lit, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7025-1 , p. 133.
- Peter Steinbach : July 20, 1944. Faces of resistance. Siedler, Munich 2004, p. 85.
- Kösener Corpslisten 1960, 9 , 981.
- Günter Brakelmann : The Kreisau Circle. Chronology, short biographies and texts from the resistance (= series of publications of the research community July 20, 1944. Vol. 3). 2nd, corrected edition. Lit, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7025-1 , p. 134.
- Marion Countess Yorck von Wartenburg : The strength of the silence. Story of a life from the German resistance. Written down by Claudia Schmölders . Cologne 1984, ISBN 3-87067-717-1 , p. 24.
- Marion Countess Yorck von Wartenburg : The strength of the silence. Story of a life from the German resistance. Written down by Claudia Schmölders . Cologne 1984, ISBN 3-87067-717-1 , p. 40.
- Günter Brakelmann : The Kreisau Circle. Chronology, short biographies and texts from the resistance (= series of publications of the research community July 20, 1944. Vol. 3). 2nd, corrected edition. Lit, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7025-1 , p. 187.
- Detlef Graf von Schwerin : Then it's the best minds you have. The young generation in the German resistance. Piper, Munich 1991, p. 247.
- Günter Brakelmann : The Kreisau Circle. Chronology, short biographies and texts from the resistance (= series of publications of the research community July 20, 1944. Vol. 3). 2nd, corrected edition. Lit, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7025-1 , p. 135.
- Wilhelm Ernst Winterhager (Ed.): The Kreisau Circle. Portrait of a resistance group. Accompanying volume to an exhibition of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Berlin 1985, p. 24.
- Ger van Roon : Reorganization in the resistance. The Kreisau Circle within the German resistance movement . Munich 1967. p. 226.
- Hans Bernd Gisevius: Until the bitter end. Volume 2. Fretz & Wasmuth, Zurich 1946, p. 381.
- J. Jessen : Hortensienstrasse 41, Berlin: Unter Helden. In: Die Zeit , July 14, 2005.
- Gerd R. Ueberschär : Stauffenberg. July 20, 1944. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-10-086003-9 , p. 156.
- Stephan Hermlin: Erzählende Prosa , Aufbau-Verlag: Berlin, 1990, pp. 135–157 (text) and p. 561 (notes).
|SURNAME||Yorck von Wartenburg, Peter Graf|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German lawyer and resistance fighter|
|DATE OF BIRTH||November 13, 1904|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Gut Klein-Öls , District of Ohlau , Province of Silesia|
|DATE OF DEATH||August 8, 1944|
|Place of death||Berlin-Plötzensee|