Schwerin von Schwanenfeld Graf Ulrich Wilhelm, born 21-12-1902 Kopenhagen, Denmark, the son of the German diplomat Ulrich Graf von Schwerin (1864–1930) and his wife Freda von Bethmann-Hollweg, a cousin of Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg. von Bethmann-Hollweg here in a uniform.
He never served in the army, but after the war started, he was appointed to an honorary rank with a General’s uniform. A little after Christmas 1920, Theobald caught a cold, which developed into acute pneumonia from which he died on 01-01-1921, age 64.. His wife had died in 1914, and he had lost his eldest son in the war.
Graf von Schwerin finished school at the convent of Roßleben in 1921 and went to study agronomy at the Technical University of Munich. As a witness of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch , (see Andres Bauriedl) he found Nazism loathsome to his Christian and social convictions (he was a Knight of Justice in the Protestant Order of Saint John , to which he had been admitted in 1933. Schwerin was graduated at Breslau in 1926 and administered his family’s manors in Göhren (today part of Woldegk, Mecklenburg) and Sartowice near Świecie, Pomerelia in Poland. In 1928, he was married to Marianne Sahm,
a daughter of Heinrich Sahm , then president of the Free City of Danzig senate. Already by 1935, he held the view that Adolf Hitler must be killed to be brought down. Beginning in 1938 ahead of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Schwerin belonged to the tightest circle of the resistance along with his personal friends Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg and Fritz-Dietlof Graf von der Schulenburg,
and later also to the Kreisau Circle. With the beginning of World War II, he was called up to the Wehrmacht as an officer in the staff of Generaloberst Erwin von Witzleben . After von Witzleben’s dismissal in 1942, Schwerin was transferred to Utrecht until March 1943, Generalmajor Hans Oster
appointed him to the Abwehroffice at the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht in Berlin. Schwerin participated in the failed attempt on Hitler’s life and coup d’état on 20 July 1944 from his position at the Bendlerblock , where the plotters’ headquarters were, although he had been saying for weeks that the chances for a successful coup were very slight. Von Witzleben was put to death t08-08-1944 age 62, at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.
By Hitler’s direct orders, he was hanged with a thin hemp rope (which people who were not from the prison staff called a piano wire ) wound around a meat hock, and the execution was filmed. The footage has since been lost.
Death and burial ground of Schwerin von Schwanenfeld, Ulrich Wilhelm Graf.
There, on the night of 21 July 1944, he was arrested, and on 21 August was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof, with jurist, Roland Freisler presiding. The recordings of the show trial attest how Schwerin, brought to court without tie and belt, tried to preserve his dignity. He stated that his opposition to Hitler was due to “the many murders (…) in Germany and abroad” constantly interrupted by furious Freisler who finally shouted him down in rage. On 08-09-1944, age 41, Schwerin was also hanged at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.
He is buried at the Waldfriedhof Dahlem, very close to the grave of Roland Freisler who not much later got a an Allied bomb on his head in the Courthouse in Berlin as he returned to the courthouse to get some important papers..