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Papers of Adam von Trott


The Catalogue

The catalogue does not describe each letter individually but aims to give some idea of the context and content of each group of letters: biographical information about AvT and Diana Hubback at the various stages of the correspondence (including where they were at various times and therefore where the letters were written); the themes followed by the correspondence at various times; and notable events (personal and public) which took place.

Letters are ALS unless otherwise stated.

Note on abbreviations used in the catalogue

ALS= autograph letter(s) signed (in the hand of the author).

AvT= Adam von Trott.

LMH = Lady Margaret Hall.

PPE = Politics, Philosophy and Economics (Modern Greats).

TLS = typed letter(s) signed (in the hand of the author).

TS = typescript.

Box I

1931 - 1932

I i T1 - T33 Adam von Trott to Diana Hubback

[Dec. 1931] - [Dec. 1932] 33 letters, ALS except T15, which is labelled "copy of letter [fm?] A", in the hand of Diana Hubback.

AvT came up to Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in October 1931 to read Modern Greats (Politics, Philosophy and Economics), one of the first Germans to come to Oxford after the Scholarships had been suspended during the First World War. He first met Diana Hubback, according to her memoir of him (IV iii p.4), in 1931, at the Labour Club (a University society). She had come up to Lady Margaret Hall (LMH) also in Michaelmas term of 1931. Therefore the earlier letters from him to her in I i were written in Oxford. However, the memoir states that Diana Hubback "did not know him at all well until he joined a reading party at our family house" (at Treyarnon Bay in North Cornwall), in the summer vacation of 1932. She explains that he spent a few days that summer at Penmount (the house of Corpus don and Cornish scholar, Charles Henderson), from where some of the letters were written. Later in the summer he went back to the continent, including a visit to Sylt, "a little island in the Northern Sea" (T9), and the correspondence continued to develop. The first letter in Balliol's collection from AvT to Diana Hubback from his childhood home of Imshausen, not far from the Trottenwald forest in Hesse-Kassel, is dated 28 August [1932] (T11), and expresses something of AvT's attachment to the place (also in T13) (see IV iii, pp.23-24 for Diana Hopkinson's description of Imshausen). Several letters express a reluctance to return to Oxford (including T9,T11,T12). The letters discuss a variety of topics including politics - T11 makes reference to Hitler, and T13 declares AvT's "ultimate wish of...political service to my country".

A letter of [August 1932] refers to the possibility of Diana Hubback not returning to Oxford for her second year (T12; see also IV iii, p.8). However, letters from AvT (at Balliol) to her from October continue the correspondence, including discussions of academic work, of planned meetings with each other, of a book he wrote (T11, T18, see also IV iii p.10), and references to other friends, including Miriam [Dyer-Bennet] (for example T13,T31,T32; see also IV iii, p.5. She is referred to in some letters as "M."). In T20 he expresses a certain attachment to Oxford, and makes reference to his future, though here he acknowledges that "my chances depend to almost 100% on the development of external circumstances in Germany".

Letters T28 - T32 are from Brussels, where, after a time in London, AvT spent some time in the Christmas vacation of 1932-1933, seeing Miriam while he was there (see IV iii, p.11).

I ii H1 - H25 Diana Hubback to Adam von Trott

22 July [1932] - 30 Dec. 1932 25 letters

These letters correspond to the period of time covered by letters T6 - T33 in I i. In July and August Diana Hubback writes from Hertfordshire and Wales covering topics including various friends, and her plans for the summer (including planned trips to Vienna and Budapest): H1 also refers to the political situation in Germany. Later that summer she went to the Continent: H3 was written in Budapest. Since for academic and personal reasons Diana Hubback did not return to Oxford that autumn - although in H7 she does express an affection for Oxford - but began work in advertising, in London (H3,H6), most of the letters are written from there, where she was living in her grandparents' house in Cambridge Square (except for example H17, from Kent, and H21,H22 and H24, from Cornwall). Most letters cover topics such as her various activities, work and social; discussions of art and literature; his and her friends; and - as in I i - the nature and complexities of their developing friendship. Some refer to the international political situation, for example the issue of disarmament (for example, H10,H18,H20). 


I iii T34 - T79 Adam von Trott to Diana Hubback

[16 Jan. 1933] - [July 1933] 46 letters

(Note: there is no letter numbered T65 - it has been re-numbered T36A. See Note on dating and arrangement of letters , above.)

AvT returned to Balliol for his penultimate term in January 1933. His concern with events in Germany is apparent in a letter of [February 1933], in which he refers to Hitler, possible revolution, and the response of Social democracy to the situation (Hitler had become Chancellor in January). This letter also expresses his affection for his country (T36). However, as in earlier letters in the correspondence, he writes also about other matters like social activities (for example meetings with Rowse, in T34, and with Sir Stafford Cripps, in T37,T38,T60; see also IV iii p.15), books, and meetings with Diana Hubback. He knew a variety of people in Oxford, undergraduates and dons, both inside and outside Balliol. He was a member of various societies, including the Jowett Society, and - as mentioned above - the university Labour Club.

In the Easter vacation AvT returned to Germany after six month's absence (IV iii p.15), going to Berlin, visiting Miriam (T41,T42) and going to Imshausen (T47). In a letter of 11 March 1933 he writes that "third people may listen in to what I write" - a reference, Diana Hopkinson's memoir explains, to censorship, which meant that "all political discussion of information in our letters had to be disguised..." (IV iii, p.15). He asks her to send him The Times (T42). He refers to his need to work and to his future, writing (28 March 1933) "What shall become of me later here heaven knows" (T43). He refers again to the situation in Germany in several letters, for example when he writes on 1 April 1933: "I fear...that the development of things here [i.e. in Germany] - painful enough in itself - will estrange my few friends in your country..." (T45). Certainly some Oxford contemporaries were suspicious of his decision to return to Germany, given its political climate, after he left Oxford in 1933.

AvT mentions the departure of Miriam from Europe (T45,T47, see also IV iii p.17). He says in several letters that he will probably be unable to join Diana in Cornwall over the vacation - but IV iii (p.17) states that he did in fact manage to go.

AvT's final term at Balliol began in April 1933. T53 comments that " Oxford is half over - it is really finished now. Will you or at least part of you belong with me to the grimmer strata to follow?" T54 displays a similar ambivalence about the future. However, he comments how beautiful he finds Oxford although it is still "a strange world" (T60). At Whitsun that summer he went with Diana Hubback and another friend, Bill Adams, to Bury near Amberley, shortly before taking his final examinations ("Schools") (IV iii p.20; T71).

Diana Hopkinson's memoir describes his activities and the time he spent with her and various friends in Oxford, London, Northern England (on a tour of "industrial England"), and the island of Jura (with David Astor) after the examinations (IV iii, p.20; see also T73,T74,T75). In July he returned to Oxford for his viva examination (IV iii, p.20; T73); T77,T78 and T79 are written on Oxford headed paper. AvT was in London when he discovered that he had been awarded a second class degree which Diana Hopkinson says came as a disappointment to him (IV iii. p.21).

I iii T80 - T111 Adam von Trott to Diana Hubback

4[?] Aug. 1933 - [Dec. 1933] 32 letters

After leaving Oxford AvT returned to Germany, to Berlin and Imshausen. T80, written in Southampton, says: "I am viewing this return as perhaps the greatest venture in my whole life...I am extremely diffident as to the ultimate success". Diana Hopkinson remarks that whilst at Oxford AvT had felt ambivalent about his return to Germany (IV iii p.13) - and indeed he wondered in 1933 if he should try for an All Souls fellowship (several members of their circle of friends were among the younger fellows there). This ambivalence about his return home was due to dislike of the political situation there - while at the same time he felt an attachment to his country so great that, as she writes later in the memoir, "occasionally Adam showed some violent nationalistic prejudice in favour of Germany..." (IV iii, p.81). 

In August his tutor Humphrey Sumner visited him at Imshausen (IV iii, p.25). AvT mentions Diana Hubback's proposed meeting with him in Germany and in August she made her first visit to Imshausen (IV iii, p.25); later in the year, on Christmas day 1933, they met for a holiday in Cologne (IV iii, p.32).

The memoir explains that in September 1933 AvT attended a Nazi-organised camp in Marburg, and offers explanations for his motivation, and the conclusions he drew from it (IV iii, p. 27). T86 - T89 were written from this camp. In October, Diana Hopkinson explains (IV iii, p.29), he began work in the law courts in Rothenburg am Fulda as preparation for his final law examination in Germany in three years' time, over the next few years working at different times in a variety of legal areas (divorce, criminal law, inheritance law, and so on). T97 refers to some of the legal work this entailed. However, he denied that his legal work in Germany implied an intention to "enter the children's garden" (T97; IV iii p.30) - Diana Hubback explains that "children" is a code word for Nazi (IV iii, p.27). T105, though, refers to a "political impass [sic]" which he is in, which Diana Hopkinson interprets as being the result of pressure to affiliate to the Nazi professional organisation for lawyers - the price of refusal being obstructions in his career (IV iii, p.31).     

I iv H26 - H47 Diana Hubback to Adam von Trott

2 Jan. 1933 - 8 Aug. 1933 22 letters + (un-numbered) ball programme

These letters correspond to the period of time covered by T34 - T79 and T80 in I iii, from January to August 1933. Diana Hubback writes to AvT from London, where she was still working (in an advertising firm, Pritchard, Wood and Partners) - although in H30 she expresses regret at having left Oxford (instead of returning for her second year in autumn 1932) and in several letters expresses ambivalence about her job, in part because she feels she does not have enough work to do, and doubts the validity of advertising.

References to the context of the friendship continue. In one letter she refers to events ("disturbances") in Germany and writes: "I always think directly from the general state to the individual which is you..." (H37). Another letter refers to the possibility of discussing the "next war" and comments that "perhaps optimism on this subject is unintelligent" (H38).

H40 refers to the final ( Oxford) exams AvT was taking in the summer of 1933, H43 to his viva in late July, and H45 to his departure from England later that summer. Diana Hopkinson went to the Continent later in the summer of 1933 also; H46 is addressed from Austria.

I v H48 - H89 Diana Hubback to Adam von Trott

(including [Aug. 1933] - [18 Dec. 1933] 43 letters H84A)

This section corresponds to the period of time covered by the letters T81 - T111 in I iii. Diana Hubback's holiday in Austria with her family continues and she makes plans to meet AvT in Germany (she visited Imshausen in August - and also met him at Cologne in December). H55 (18 September 1933) mentions her plans for her future career in England (in a shop) although she continued to work in advertising for a time. In October however she started work as a shop assistant (to gain related experience), still in London (H72). As in other sections of the correspondence, she discusses her work, friends and activities (for example her twenty first birthday party in November 1933), books, visits to Oxford (H73, for example), and also in places mentions the international political situation, for example in H68, which refers to a "horrible forecast of the future of civilisation...only too horribly true and possible". 


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