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Trott zu Solz at the Volksgerichtshof

Adam von Trott zu Solz (9 August 1909 – 26 August 1944) was a German lawyer and diplomat who was involved in the conservative opposition the Nazi regime, and who played a central part in the 20 July Plot. He was supposed to be appointed Secretary of State in the Foreign Office and lead negotiator with the western allies if the plot had succeeded.



Born in Potsdam, Germany, into the noble Protestant Hessian Trott zu Solz family, he was the fifth child of Emilie Eleonore (née von Schweinitz) and August von Trott zu Solz, the Prussian Minister of Culture. Adam von Trott went to the UK in 1931 on a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Balliol College, Oxford where he became close friends with David Astor. Following his studies at Oxford, Trott went on to spend six months in the United States. He was a great-great-great grandson of John Jay, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. In 1937 Trott was posted to China.

He took advantage of his travels to try to raise support outside Germany for the internal resistance against the Nazis. In 1939, he lobbied Lord Lothian and Lord Halifax to pressure the British government not to abandon its policy of appeasement towards Adolf Hitler, visiting London three times. He also visited Washington, D.C., in October of that year in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain American support.

Friends warned Trott not to return to Germany but his conviction that he had to do something to stop the madness of Hitler and his henchmen led him to return. Once there, in 1940 Trott joined the Nazi Party in order to access party information and monitor its planning. At the same time, he served as a foreign policy advisor to the clandestine group of intellectuals planning the overthrow of the Nazi regime known as the Kreisau Circle. However, during the war, Trott helped Indian leader Subhas Chandra Bose in setting up the Special Bureau for India. Bose had escaped to Germany at the onset of the war, and later raised the Indische Legion in the country.

Trott was one of the leaders of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg's plot of 20 July 1944 to assassinate Hitler. He was arrested within days, placed on trial and found guilty. Sentenced to death on 15 August 1944 by the Volksgerichtshof, he was hanged in Berlin's Plötzensee Prison on 26 August.

Trott is one of five Germans who are commemorated on Balliol College's World War II memorial stone. His name is also recorded among the Rhodes Scholar war dead in the Rotunda of Rhodes House, Oxford.[1]

Colonel von Trott was survived by his wife, who was jailed for some months, and two daughters, aged 2 and 4, who were taken from their grandmother's house and given to Nazi Party families for adoption. Their mother recovered them in 1945. One daughter later became a teacher at the John F Kennedy Deutsche-Amerikanische Gemeinschaftschule in Zehlendorf, Berlin. The JFK School was created to foster understanding and similarities in both Germans and Americans growing up in the 1960s.[2]


  • "I am also a Christian, as are those who are with me. We have prayed before the crucifix and have agreed that since we are Christians, we cannot violate the allegiance we owe God. We must therefore break our word given to him who has broken so many agreements and still is doing it. If only you knew what I know Goldmann! There is no other way! Since we are Germans and Christians we must act, and if not soon, then it will be too late. Think it over till tonight."[3] (Adam von Trott zu Solz speaking in an attempt to recruit Lieutenant Gereon Goldmann, a Wehrmacht medic and former Roman Catholic seminarian. Lt. Goldmann had balked at violating the soldier's oath and had questioned the morality of assassinating Adolf Hitler. However, Goldmann overcame his qualms and joined the 20 July Plot as a carrier of dispatches).


Adam von Trott was the author of:

  • Hegels Staatsphilosophie und das internationale Recht; Diss. Göttingen (V&R), 1932


  1. ^ Balliol College: History - Memorials
  2. ^ See JFK school history as citation, as well as this contributor, who had her as a teacher in the 1960s.
  3. ^ Fr. Gereon Goldmann, OFM, "The Shadow of his Wings," Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2001. Page 86.

Further reading

  • Hedley Bull, Edited by: The Challenge of the Third Reich –The Adam von Trott Memorial Lectures Oxford University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-19-821962-8
  • Christabel Bielenberg: The Past is Myself, Corgi, 1968. ISBN 0-552-99065-5. Published in the US as When I was a German, 1934-1945, University of Nebraska Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8032-6151-9
  • Shiela Grant Duff: Fünf Jahre bis zum Krieg (1934-1939), Verlag C.H.Beck, trans. Ekkehard Klausa, ISBN 3-406-01412-7. (In German)
  • Shiela Grant Duff: The Parting of Ways—A Personal Account of the Thirties, Peter Owen, 1982, ISBN 0-7206-0586-5.
  • The Earl of Halifax: Fulness of Days, Collins, 1957, London.
  • Michael Ignatieff: A Life of Isaiah Berlin, Chatto&Windus, 1998, ISBN 0-7011-6325-9.
  • Diana Hopkinson: The Incense Tree, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968, ISBN 0-7100-6236-2.
  • Annedore Leber, collected by: Conscience in Revolt—Sixty-four Stories of Resistance in Germany 1933-45, Valentine, Mitchell & Co, London 1957 (Das Gewissen Steht Auf, Mosaik-Verlag, Berlin, 1954).
  • Klemens von Klemperer: German Resistance Against Hitler—The search For Allies Abroad, Clarendon press, Oxford, 1992, USA under Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-821940-7.
  • Klemens von Klemperer (Editor): A Noble Combat—The Letters of Shiela Grant Duff and Adam von Trott zu Solz, 1932-1939, 1988, ISBN 0-19-822908-9.
  • Giles MacDonogh: A good German—Adam von Trott zu Solz, Woodstock, N.Y., Overlook Press, 1992, ISBN 0-87951-449-3.
  • A. L. Rowse: All Souls And Appeasement—A Contribution to Contemporary history, Macmillan & Co., London/New York, 1961.
  • A. L. Rowse: A Man of The Thirties, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979, ISBN 0-297-77666-5.
  • A. L. Rowse: A Cornishman Abroad, Jonathan Cape, 1976, ISBN 0-224-01244-4.
  • Christopher Sykes: Troubled Loyalty—A biography of Adam von Trott zu Slz, Collins, London, 1968.
  • Clarita von Trott zu Solz: Adam von Trott zu Solz. Eine Lebensbeschreibung. Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-86732-063-4. (In German)
  • Marie Vassiltchikov (aka Maria Vasilchilkova): Berlin Diaries 1940-1945, 1988. ISBN 0-394-75777-7 (Vassiltchikov was a friend of Trott and other members of the 1944 plot)
  • John W. Wheeler-Bennett: The Nemesis of Power—The German Army in Politics, 1918-1945 Macmillan & Co, London/New York, 1953.
  • Sir John Wheeler-Bennett: Friends, Enemies and Sovereigns—The Final Volume of his Auto-biography, MacMillan, London 1976, ISBN 0-312-30555-9.

External links

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