Family seat - community - foundation

The historic home of the von Trott zu Solz family is a place directly associated with democratic thinking in the resistance against Hitler and the Third Reich. Adam von Trott not only spent parts of his childhood and youth here, he was also able to meet friends from Germany and abroad in a safe environment after 1933.

There is hardly any other place in Germany that is so closely associated with democracy and resistance.


In1947 and 1948, the brothers Werner and Heinrich von Trott initiated a network of intellectual "masterminds" who, under the name "Imshausen Society" and with explicit reference to the tradition of the Kreisau Circle, were to think about fundamental plans for the reorganization of Germany. Participants included Walter Dirks, Eugen Kogon, Alfred Kantorowicz, Ernst Niekisch, Theodor Steltzer, Alfred Anders and Carl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker. After just three meetings, this initiative was abandoned due to tensions within the group and the onset of the Cold War. After that, the manor house in Trottenpark served as a place to live and work for the Imshausen community founded by Vera von Trott, one of Adam's sisters.

In1949, Werner and Heinrich von Trott zu Solz erected a wooden cross on the Tannenberg above the village, visible from afar, in memory of their murdered brother. There is a memorial stone next to the cross. Since 1984, commemorative ceremonies have been held here every year on July 20, which the foundation sponsors together with the SPD sub-district of Hersfeld-Rotenburg. Nationally renowned personalities such as Ralph Giordano, Margot Käßmann and, most recently, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas have already spoken here.

From1949 to 1972, it was not only the center of life for the emerging spiritual community, but also a place of refuge for children and young people who, uprooted by war, flight and expulsion, found a new home here, especially in the post-war years. Founded in 1955 by Vera von Trott zu Solz, the theologian Hans Eisenberg and others, the Imshausen community became an important center for ecumenical encounters and spiritual retreats over the decades. International, cross-religious exchange and lively contacts, even across the inner-German border to the East, which was only a few kilometers away, shaped the special community at this place.

In1986, the community decided to establish a foundation named after Adam von Trott, which was given the task of preserving the memory of the resistance, being a center for encounters and providing impulses for learning and further thought. With enormous effort and the help of many volunteers, the barn next to the manor house was converted into a conference and meeting center. This beginning of the foundation, characterized by voluntary commitment, physical and mental work and the enthusiasm of young construction workers in particular, was immeasurable in its community-building significance for its later work and still shapes the spirit of this place today. After the community finally moved to the Tannenhof in 1995, an association was founded which took over the renovation of the manor house and became closely associated with the foundation.

The first building blocks for the foundation's work have been laidsince 1994. On special occasions and important anniversaries, the Foundation's board and volunteer members organized public lectures on historical and current political issues, retreats and conferences, excursions and work camps for young people, as well as cooperative events with related organizations such as the Kreisau Initiative Berlin. The highlight of the activities has always been the commemoration of July 20, 1944 at the cross on the Tannenberg, which has taken place since 1984 and was now planned and organized by the foundation (together with the SPD sub-district of Rotenburg, which had previously been the sole sponsor of the commemorative events). In addition, the goal of making Imshausen a place of learning where "historical remembrance work is carried out with regard to the two German dictatorships of the 20th century" came more to the fore from the mid-1990s. Imshausen's geographical proximity to the former GDR border resulted in a specific interest in people's experiences of dictatorship in the GDR; former GDR citizens were frequent guests in Imshausen, which broadened the foundation's perspective beyond the Nazi resistance.

In2001, the foundation finally succeeded in hiring a full-time director of studies, Joachim Garstecki, a theologian and former activist in the ecumenical peace movement in the GDR, thus meeting the growing demands on the content of the work and the expectations of a permanent presence on the ground. Under his leadership, the Foundation's image and the content of its work were further developed, structured and consolidated. For example, the monthly "Imshäuser Gespräche" (Imshausen Talks ) were established in the manor house - public lecture and discussion events that are still a fixed and proven format for historical and political education work at this location today. Their topics range from historical and cultural memory issues to current social issues (anti-Semitism, migration and refugees, right-wing extremism, alternative economic models, etc.) and questions of coexistence and mutual understanding in Europe.

A series of meetings and conferences were also organized: In October 2001, for example, the conference "Criminal law reappraisal of the Nazi and Stalinist GDR past in Germany and Poland" dealt with the prosecution of government criminality in the Nazi state, in the GDR and in the People's Republic of Poland. In July 2004, an international colloquium was held on the subject of "Ecumenism and Resistance to Dictatorships". The Foundation took the 60th anniversary of the failed assassination attempt on Hitler in 1944 as an opportunity to recall the intensive interrelationships between the ecumenical movement and European, including German, resistance to the Nazi dictatorship, which are little known in Germany. As part of this colloquium, the conference building - the former barn next to the manor house - was ceremoniously named after the theologian, ecumenist and supporter of the German resistance Willem Visser't Hooft. In 2007, Kohlhammer Verlag in Stuttgart published the volume "Die Ökumene und der Widerstand gegen Diktaturen. National Socialism and Communism as a Challenge to the Churches". This publication appeared as volume 39 in the "Konfession und Gesellschaft" series published by Kohlhammer Verlag and contains all the contributions to the 2004 conference.


Another milestone in terms of content was a series of events held in 2009 to mark the 100th anniversary of Adam von Trott's birth. Young academics discussed the foundations of the European idea at an international conference entitled "The Heart of Europe: The Power of Faith, Vision and Belonging in European Unification". (Some of the contributions were published as a book by Wehrhahn Verlag in 2011.) A school competition, a commemorative event and an international conference at the Protestant Academy in Berlin were also organized and a youth academy conference in cooperation with the Protestant Academy Hofgeismar on the topic of "Engagement abroad" rounded off the programme. In 2010, the Foundation commemorated the lawyers in the resistance with a conference on the 100th birthday of Friedrich Justus Perels. Together with the Martin Niemöller Foundation and the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Association, the Foundation initiated two conferences in 2012 and 2013 on the legacy of the Confessing Church and its significance for the present day.

Since 2007, Ute Janßen has been responsible for the organization of events on site and guest operations as managing director. Under her leadership, cooperation with schools in the region became increasingly important. She worked with a small working group of teachers and teacher trainers to expand and consolidate this network. To this end, formats for study days with pupils as well as for teachers and trainee teachers were developed and implemented. During her work in Imshausen, Ms. Janßen also researched the Imshausen memorial site. Her master's thesis from 2014 is entitled "Imshausen - Biography of a Place of Remembrance".

Since 2017, Imshausen has been linked to the Georg August University in Göttingen in a cooperation funded by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The team in Imshausen has been strengthened and numerous joint event and workshop formats for different target groups have been carried out. These include meetings, conferences and public lectures as well as educational programs for younger people - seminars for students, school workshops, democracy camps and events with and for schools in the region. The foundation has a long-standing partnership with the Adam-von-Trott School in Sontra in particular.

From fall 2020, the educational work in Imshausen is to be enriched and expanded with a new permanent exhibition about Adam von Trott. The foundation has found a competent partner for this in the exhibition office "Exponauten" and preparations are in full swing.


Against the background of its history, Imshausen is predestined to reflect on the development of democracy, individual responsibility and resistance against authoritarian and inhuman regimes and attitudes. Young people as well as multipliers such as journalists, teachers and memorial site employees should learn how democracy develops and how people can be sensitized to take responsibility for the community and act courageously in difficult situations.

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