PASSINGS: Milt Wagenheim, Freya von Moltke

Milt Wagenheim

Longtime dry-cleaning businessman

Milt Wagenheim, 91, who for 32 years operated Civic Cleaners in downtown Los Angeles and was nicknamed the Mayor of 2nd Street, died Tuesday at a convalescent home in Long Beach, his family said. He had been in failing health for some time.

Wagenheim's shop on 2nd Street between Broadway and Hill Street was frequented by lawyers, judges, journalists, police officers and other downtown workers who always heard a joke from the 5-foot-3 proprietor when they picked up their clean laundry.

Wagenheim was known to accept bundles of shirts heaved out of car windows along 2nd Street, where parking was at a premium.

"I tell 'em just honk," Wagenheim told Times columnist Al Martinez in 1981, "and I run out front and they toss me their stuff. It works OK."

Born Aug. 1, 1918, in Detroit, Wagenheim served in the Army during World War II. He and his brother-in-law Norman Winston opened their first dry-cleaning business in Los Angeles in 1945 then moved to 2nd Street in 1956.

A resident of West L.A., Wagenheim retired in 1988. He and his wife Gilda were married for 51 years. She died in 2001.

Freya von Moltke

Member of Resistance

Freya von Moltke, 98, a prominent member of the anti-Nazi Resistance in World War II, died Friday, her son said. Von Moltke, who was born in Germany but had lived in Vermont since 1960, recently had a viral infection.

In her writings after the war, Von Moltke described her life in the Resistance with her husband, Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, who co-founded the anti-Nazi Kreisau Circle and was executed for his activities.

Her transcriptions of her husband's letters were published in German in 1988 as "Letters to Freya 1939-1945."

She was born Freya Deichmann in Cologne in 1911 and met her future husband when she was 18. They were married in 1931 and both received law degrees.

In 1932, they moved to Berlin, where he set up an international law practice. He was an opponent of Adolf Hitler's regime from its start.

He was drafted into the German army in 1939.

The Von Moltkes formed the center of a resistance group that became known as the Kreisau Circle, which included several dozen clergy members, economics experts and diplomats. Freya von Moltke hosted meetings in 1942 and '43 at the family estate at which the group discussed plans for the democratic Germany they hoped would follow the collapse of the Third Reich.

Helmuth von Moltke was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and executed a year later.

In 1947, Freya von Moltke went to South Africa, where her mother-in-law had been born. She worked as a social worker but grew troubled by the apartheid regime and returned in 1956 to Germany, where she began publicizing the activities of the Kreisau Circle.

She moved to Vermont to live with Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a Dartmouth College professor and social philosopher who had fled Germany after the rise of the Nazis.

Her memoirs, "Memories of Kreisau and the German Resistance," were first published in 1997.

-- times staff and wire reports

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