A DEATH LETTER*
[* The following letter was written sixty years ago. Graf Helmuth James von Moltke, whose home had become a focal centre of resistance to the then German Government, was arrested early in 1944 and condemned to death.]
MY DEAR - To begin with the ending: at about three o'clock the sentence was read out: Moltke, death and deprivation of estate.
We are to hang, because we put our thoughts together, thoughts without intent of violence, namely: how [to] make Christianity a sheet-anchor in chaos. This thought alone is demanding its toll of heads tomorrow.
Dear Heart, first let me declare that quite plainly the last twenty-four hours of life are in no way different from any others. I had always imagined the shock it must be to tell oneself: this is the last time you will see the sun go down, the last time you will be going to bed. Nothing of the kind. I may be a little overwrought, I daresay I am. A sense of exaltation has certainly come over me.
How graciously the Lord has dealt with me! It may well sound extravagant, but I am so brimming with gratitude, there is literally no room for anything else. His leading during the two days of the trial, how firm, how clear it was! "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
Thanks, dear Heart, thanks above all to the Lord, thanks, Beloved, to you for your prayers, thanks to all the others who have been praying for me.
Your husband, your weak, cowardly, complex and most ordinary husband, yes, he has been privileged to experience that. Were freedom to be offered me now, I own that I should have to readjust myself, so tremendous has been the demonstration of God, his presence, his omnipotence. Leaving me dumb, my love, except to say and to pray: may God be as bountiful to you as He has been to me, then even a husband's death - what of it?
Further, He brought me so low, that now at length, in my thirty-ninth year, I understand my sinfulness, am able to beg for his forgiveness, can completely confide myself to His mercy. In addition, He gives me time and opportunity to put my affairs in order as far as may be, so that all earthly cares may drop away. Then He causes me to know to the depths the pain of departure and the fear of death and the terror of hell, to the end that these also may be behind me. Moreover, He provides me with faith, hope and love, and with a riches in these things which exceeds all measure.
In conclusion, I say to you, in virtue of the treasure which has spoken out of me, and which fills this homely vessel, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.