Christabel Bielenberg 1909-2003

An author with a strong Carlow connection is Christabel Bielenberg who lived in Tullow for most of her life until her death at the age of 94 in late 2003. Christabel is best known for her memoirs "The Past is Myself" and "The Road Ahead" which detail her experiences in the anti-Nazi movement of the 1930s and 40s.

In 1934, Christabel Burton then aged 25 and on the brink of a promising musical career exchanged her British passport for a German one when she married German law student Peter Bielenberg. They lived in Germany until 1938 when they considered returning to Ireland where Christabel had fond childhood holiday memories. However, Adam Von Trott zu Solz an anti-Nazi activist and close friend of the Bielenbergs persuaded them to stay and work towards the abolition of Hitler's Germany. By 1942 and with three small children the Bielenbergs were in constant fear of being exposed and with the constant bombing campaigns on Berlin they decided to move to the Black Forest. Following the plot to assassinate Hitler Peter and many of his friends including Von Trott were arrested, interrogated and imprisoned. In an act of unquestionable love and bravery Christabel offered herself up for interrogation in an attempt to obtain Peter's release, succeeding in persuading the Nazis that neither she nor Peter had any resistance to Hitler or his Third Reich.

Peter was released but sentenced to join a punishment squad clearing mine fields on the Eastern Front. Remarkably a mistake in the paperwork allowed him to escape back to safety and his family. After the war the Bielenbergs settled in Ireland renovating an old farmhouse in Tullow under the view of the Wicklow Mountains.


The Past is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg

The Road Ahead by Christabel Bielenberg

Nick Bielenberg interview by Mary Greene:Ireland On Sunday, Nov. 9th 2003, pp. 36-37

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