Marcin Miodek "Krzyżowa – place of remembrance and dialogue about the resistance to totalitarianism"

The former estate of the von Moltke family in the Silesian town of Krzyżowa near Świdnica is undoubtedly among the most important places of both European and Polish-German collective memory. It is here that German opponents of Hitler’s regime, later referred to as the Kreisau Circle, met during World War II, and where, in November 1989, the first prime minister of free Poland, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and Helmut Kohl, the then chancellor of Germany undergoing the process of unification and striving for fuller liberation, exchanged the Christian sign of peace and forgiveness at a mass celebrated by Bishop Alfons Nossol. It is also here that you can visit the unique exhibition entitled "Courage and Reconciliation", illustrating the path which the two neighbouring nations have travelled throughout the recent decades since the horrifying tragedy of the Second World War. However, when mentioning this Lower Silesian town, one should not forget about another, older exhibition addressing the vast body of problems related to civic resistance against totalitarianism, about the piece of the Berlin Wall placed in the palace courtyard, or about the international meeting centre for young people and adults, the foundation of which was stimulated by the Reconciliation Mass of 1989. Therefore, as aforementioned, Krzyżowa is a multidimensional meeting place of European reach (even supra-European, if one was to consider e.g. Korean-Japanese meetings), a place of dialogue and of remembrance about the pursuit of freedom, and a symbol of opposition to totalitarian and authoritarian systems.

Annemarie Franke "Thinking about Europe, acting in German-Polish cooperation. Origins of the Krzyżowa Foundation for Mutual Understanding in Europe"

The Lower Silesian village of Krzyżowa was called Kreisau until 1945. It was here, on the estate of Helmuth and Freya von Moltke, that the anti-Nazi opposition group known as the Kreisau Circle used to meet during World War II. Count Helmuth James von Moltke and seven of his friends belonging to the group were sentenced to death by a Nazi court and murdered. When the war ended, the German inhabitants of Krzyżowa had to leave their houses and farms. To take their place, new settlers were brought equally forcibly to the village that was unfamiliar to them. In socialist Poland, the von Moltke family estate was taken over by the State Agricultural Farm. As a result of the traumatic experience of war and of German occupation, as well as flight and expulsion during the war and after its end, contacts between Poles and Germans froze for several decades. Silence fell. On both sides, very few individuals, although some very early on, dared to attempt dialogue, to restore broken ties, and to seek partners. Their efforts cannot be overestimated. They were pioneers of Polish-German reconciliation. I would like to present the work done by the friends from the Krzyżowa Circle in the post-war years for the sake of closer relations with Poland, looking at the former Kreisau, today’s Krzyżowa.

Sebastian Fikus "For them, opposition was a moral obligation. Creation and activities of the Kreisau Circle"

In the 1920s, the Weimar Republic was a free, democratic state in which an extraordinary artistic and cultural life flourished. However, in the final days of January 1933, certain events took place which determined the further fate of Germany. The democratically elected National Socialist party, led by Adolf Hitler, took the helm of the government. Thus, within a very short time they managed to gain control over the entire administrative and police apparatus of Germany, gradually eliminating more and more civil liberties and removing opposition MPs from the parliament. Looking back, one would like to say that Hitler’s party was an extreme group that managed, using brutal terror, to turn a democratic state into a prison. However, it is difficult to deny the National Socialists political agility and an excellent sense of the public sentiment. Instead of encountering numerous protests, they managed to win almost full public support for their actions, which not long afterwards – only six years later, in 1939 – led to the bloodiest conflict in the history of humankind, World War II.