Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Melitta von Stauffenberg

Melitta von Stauffenberg: 9 January 1903 — 8 April 1945

In 1937, Melitta Schiller, who was of Jewish descent, married Claus von Stauffenberg’s older brother Alexander.

A highly regarded test pilot, Melitta’s ability saved her and her family from the Holocaust.

Aware of Claus’s proposed coup, she was asked to fly Claus to and from the Wolf’s Lair – but she did not have access to a suitable aircraft.

Following the Plot’s collapse she was arrested under Sippenhaft (kin vengeance), but released in September 1944 to continue her test flight duties. The Nazis thereafter required her to be referred to as Gräfin (Countess) ‘Schenk’.

Melitta played a key role flying between Claus’s wife Nina (pregnant in hospital and in custody) and the various camps where members of the Stauffenberg family were held, keeping them in touch with each other and bringing them food and other necessities. She found the children in the orphanage in Bad Sachsa, but also brought Nina the ominous news that they were being transferred to Buchenwald.

Unknown to either, the children were unable to make the journey to the concentration camp due to bomb damage to the transport infrastructure.

Her husband Alexander was in Athens when the July plot took place. The two were able to speak by telephone before they were arrested, but Alexander was not released until the end of the war - narrowly surviving Himmler's instructions that he be shot.

On 8 April 1945, Melitta’s slow moving unarmed trainer aircraft was attacked by a US fighter. She was able to land the aircraft but died soon after from her wounds.

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