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Difference Maker

Son of an anti-Nazi hero uses family estate to nurture democracy and rule of law

Helmuth Caspar von Moltke, son of an anti-Nazi hero, uses the family estate in Poland to teach teenagers about democracy and protecting human rights.

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Inside the whitewashed palace recently, 80 high school pupils from Slovakia, Afghanistan, Germany, and the Czech Republic were putting into practice Helmuth James's ideals. They reenacted the roles of prosecutors, journalists, and judges in three of the world's most famous international criminal trials – Nuremberg, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda – by participating in the center's Model International Criminal Court.

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German 12th-grader Tamta Kalandarishvili served as prosecutor in the case of Drazen Erdemovic, a Bosnian Croat soldier convicted in the massacre at Srebrenica, Bosnia. The role made her understand "why we need international institutions, why trying people [in court] is important in a constitutional state," she says.

For others, like Ajmal Rasouli from Kabul, Afghanistan, witnessing "fair trials, how criminals can actually be punished ... gives me hope that one day the people of Afghanistan will see that criminals are brought to justice as well."

Rebekka Rabiega, a teacher from Wroclaw, Poland (named Breslau until 1945), calls the project a "step away" from war. "We might think that European reconciliation is a done fact, but it's a never-ending story," says Ms. Rabiega.

Hava Kohav Beller, a German-born film producer, made a 1992 Oscar-nominated documentary "The Restless Conscience" that documents the Kreisau Circle's Nazi resistance.

The message of Kreisau, she says from New York, where she now works, "is universal, going beyond the Western European 'club' to also embrace the other regions of the world, where, alas, violence and strife and deadly divisions are still rampant."

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[Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Moltke's ancestor acquired the estate as a thank you for help in winning a war against Prussia. The war was against Austria.]

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