SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
It was January 10, and it was a day like this one. Cold, damp, brisk. An attorney was sitting in court, but in an unusual situation: he was the accused. He had been subjected to “highly coercive interrogation” to try to pry from him details of a conspiracy. The process had left him crippled, unable to stand, hardly able to use his hands. But he was by all accounts a magnificent appearance that day in court, and indeed some of that shows through in the one surviving photograph of that day, which is reproduced below. He knew he was facing certain death, but he used his last public appearance as a moment to assail the deep-set evil of the Nazi regime. And he was before Roland Freisler, a judge who perfectly manifested the villainous temperament of the Nazis and their disrespect for any real notion of justice. Freisler believed that his function as a judge was simple—to do the will of the Leader, and to insure the perpetual rule of the party. That perpetual rule lasted approximately five more months.
The man was Helmuth James von Moltke. It’s a simple matter to describe his views: he was a devout, passionately believing Christian. He felt it was impossible to sit at his job in Berlin every day and observe the transportation of Jews to certain death in concentration camps in the East and do nothing, just looking the other way. His faith and his conscience commanded action, and he acted: intervening in dozens of cases and giving advice and instructions that ultimately saved thousands of lives. He also revealed himself quickly to be a confirmed enemy of the Nazi regime, and they acted to snuff out his life. Within two weeks, he would be executed.
Most people think that tales of martyrdom ended some hazy time in the Middle Ages. But that’s not true. They continued to periods still within the memory of those with us today. And they should provide us with some inspiration. Moltke was moved by a sense of justice. It is impossible to see what is happening in our name and be silent, and refrain from action, he wrote. And he reminded his listeners that there was an entirely pragmatic aspect to this thought, for the indignities and abuses suffered by Jews would in due course be suffered by everyone else. A state that wields its powers in such a way will respect the rights of no person, be he citizen, aristocrat or member of a vilified minority. In our life, many would claim the mantle of righteousness, and few earn it. Usually those who are truly righteous are unassuming. Helmuth von Moltke was a truly righteous person.
Today is January 10. Remember Helmuth von Moltke and his decision to take a brave stand for justice, a stand that cost him his life. America today is awash in injustices, and many of them stem from the misconduct of lawyers and judges who have sworn an oath to uphold the law and to do justice, but instead abuse their authority for brazenly political reasons. Consider the plight of America’s most prominent political prisoner, former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman, and this appeal from his daughter, and see if you can’t find a smidgen of moral courage. Enough to act. Enough to pick up the phone or write a letter.
I once again need your help in furthering the message to free my dad. Congress is back in session, and it is up to us to provide the pressure than will keep Congress investigating partisan prosecution and the corruption of the Department of Justice (aka: my dad’s case).
Please take a few minutes on January 10th to call your Representative and/or Senator about continuing this investigation. This is our chance to show those who represent us that prosecuting Democrats over Republicans, for political reasons, will not be tolerated. Using the Justice Department as a political tool will not be tolerated. Incriminating one’s opponents to win elections will not be tolerated.
We can have our country back, only if we take action. Please use your voice January 10th and call your Congressperson(s)! Lets welcome 2008 with our combined voice for liberty and justice. Information on how to reach your Congressperson can be found at
Thank you for your continued efforts to free my dad!
More from Scott Horton:
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
No Comment — March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm
On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers
Abortions per 1,000 live births in New York City:
Researchers discovered an “Obama effect”: African Americans’ performance on a verbal test improved, to equal that of white Americans, immediately after Obama’s nomination and his election.
“All I saw,” said a 12-year-old neighbor of visits to the man’s house, “was just cats in little diapers.”
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”