The Federal Foreign Office was not a stronghold of resistance during the Nazi period. Numerous studies have revealed the inglorious role which German diplomats played in the 1930s and 1940s. Just a few left the foreign service out of protest against Hitler, while others resigned themselves to “inward emigration”. The overwhelming majority, however, helped to maintain a brutal regime and to put into practice its murderous policies.
Resistance out of patriotism
However, there were individuals whose consciences drove them into the resistance. One of them was the diplomat Adam von Trott zu Solz. Born in Potsdam in 1909, he considered Nazism and patriotism to be incompatible from the outset. During his many trips and postings abroad, he became painfully aware of how the aggressive foreign policy of the National Socialists and the increasing persecution of Jews and other minorities was isolating Germany in the world.
Early on, von Trott looked for allies in Britain and the United States in the fight against the Hitler regime and always returned to his home country despite many warnings. Eventually, he joined the Kreisau Circle led by Helmuth Graf von Moltke and became the foreign policy advisor of the resistance.
Early vision of a united Europe
Von Trott’s cosmopolitanism, which led him to join the resistance against Hitler, and his deep love for his home country made him one of the few German diplomats of his generation who serve as a role model even today. Foreign Minister Maas paid tribute accordingly to Adam von Trott zu Solz on the 75th anniversary of the assassination attempt of 20 July 1944. The Minister stated that Adam von Trott saw patriotism and cosmopolitanism, as well as Germany and Europe, as “two sides of the same coin” and the “prerequisite for a good and peaceful future”.
Von Trott saw this peaceful future in a united Europe. In his great memoranda for the resistance, he predicted early on that history would reveal the inadequacy of the sovereign nation-state as the ultimate international entity and demonstrate the advantage of larger unions of individual nations. Von Trott did not live to see these ideals realised. Following the failed assassination attempt against Hitler, Adam von Trott zu Solz was arrested on 25 July 1944, tortured and finally executed at Plötzensee prison in Berlin on 26 August.