Remembering Two Heroes

Two definitions of a Hero are :1. a person admired for achievements and noble qualities. 2. one who shows great courage. Both definitions apply to Józef Cebula and Sophie Scholl.

The reason why I am remembering these 2 people is because of today’s date May 9. Sophie Scholl was born on May 9,1921, Józef Cebula was murdered on May 9 1941.

Józef Cebula Józef Cebula was born into a modest family of Polish origin on March 23, 1902, at Malnia in southern Poland. He suffered tuberculosis as a child, and was in fact declared incurable . After an unexpected recovery, he visited an Oblate shrine where he shared his story with an Oblate priest. The priest advised Józef to study with the Oblates at the newly-established Oblate minor seminary.

He was ordained as a priest on 5 June 1927 while still in a seminary. Father Cebula became a superior at the Oblate seminaries in 1931, and became novice master at Markowice in 1937.

When the Nazis occupied Poland during the Second World War, they declared loyalty to the Church illegal. All Church associations were forbidden, and many priests were arrested. On May 4, 1940, the Oblate novices at Markowice were arrested by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany.

Fr. Cebula was forbidden to exercise his priestly ministry and obliged to work in the fields. But at night, the zealous priest celebrated the Eucharist and administered the sacraments in the surrounding villages, until he was arrested on April 2, 1941. He was taken to a concentration camp at Mauthausen in Austria.

Fr. Cebula was known for his humility ,he was a man of quiet prayer with a deep spiritual life. He radiated peace in the very middle of the death camp, even when he was tormented by the Nazis.

Father Cebula was forced to carry 60-pound rocks from the quarry to a camp two miles away. He had to climb a 144-step staircase called the Death Stairs, while being beaten and insulted by his tormentors. The guards humiliated and mocked him by ordering him to sing the texts of the Mass while he worked.

On May 9th 1941 , Fr. Cebula summoned up his strength and courage and said, “It is not you who are in charge. God will judge you.” The Nazis ordered him to run, with a rock on his back, towards the camp’s barbed wire fence, where a guard shot him with a sub-machine gun and declared that Fr. Cebula “was shot while trying to escape”. He died in this volley of bullets. His body was taken to a crematorium and burned.

Sophie Scholl, was only 11 years-old when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany Sophie, like her brothers and sisters, were influenced by the changes that took place in their school.

Growing up in Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl had automatically become a member of the girl’s branch of Hitler Youth, the League of German Girls, at the age of twelve, and she was soon promoted to Squad Leader. She was an excited and happy follower of the National Socialist cult of youth. The teenager believed in the ideals propagated at the time, as did many of her peers.

However, as discrimination against the Jews grew, Sophie began to question what she was being told. When two of her Jewish friends were barred from joining the League, Sophie protested and as she grew older she became more and more disillusioned by the Nazi Party.

The strict rules opened her eyes to Nazi doctrine and their treatment of other peoples, and she became disillusioned with German education. She also served six months in the Auxiliary War Service, but this only strengthened her resolve against the Nazis.

She joined her brother, Hans and his Munich University friends when they formed a passive resistance group called ‘The White Rose’. Their actions against the regime included peaceful demonstrations, painting anti-Nazi slogans and distributing leaflets. It was the leaflet distribution that led to their arrest. They were observed by a university janitor collecting those which had not been taken, he denounced them.

The White Rose was a small endeavor with large consequences. At its core were siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, their fellow students Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, and a professor of philosophy and musicology at the University of Munich, Kurt Huber. Together they published and distributed six pamphlets, first typed on a typewriter, then multiplied via mimeograph. At first, they only distributed them via mail, sending them to professors, booksellers, authors, friends and others—going through phone books for addresses and hand-writing each envelope. In the end, they distributed thousands, reaching households all over Germany. Acquiring such large amounts of paper, envelopes, and stamps at a time of strict rationing without raising suspicion was problematic, but the students managed by engaging a wide-ranging network of supporters in cities and towns as far north as Hamburg, and as far south as Vienna. These networks were also activated to distribute the pamphlets, attempting to trick the Gestapo into believing the White Rose had locations all across the country.

The translated text of one of their pamphlets

“Our current ‘state’ is the dictatorship of evil. We know that already, I hear you object, and we don’t need you to reproach us for it yet again. But, I ask you, if you know that, then why don’t you act? Why do you tolerate these rulers gradually robbing you, in public and in private, of one right after another, until one day nothing, absolutely nothing, remains but the machinery of the state, under the command of criminals and drunkards?”

In January 1943, the group felt empowered and hopeful. Their activism seemed to be working, rattling the authorities and sparking discussions amongst their peers.

However ,on the 18th February 1943, Sophie and her brother Hans brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich main building. They hurriedly dropped stacks of copies in the empty corridors for students to find when they left the lecture rooms. Leaving before the lectures had ended, the Scholl siblings noticed that there were some left-over copies in the suitcase and decided to distribute them. Sophie flung the last remaining leaflets from the top floor down into the atrium. This spontaneous action was observed by the university maintenance man, Jakob Schmied.

Hans and Sophie Scholl were taken into Gestapo custody. A draft of a seventh pamphlet, written by Christoph Probst, was found in the possession of Hans Scholl at the time of his arrest by the Gestapo. While Sophie Scholl got rid of incriminating evidence before being taken into custody, Hans did try to destroy the draft of the last leaflet by tearing it apart and trying to swallow it down. But, the Gestapo recovered enough to match the handwriting with other writings from Probst, which they found when they searched Hans’s apartment. The main Gestapo interrogator was Robert Mohr, who initially thought Sophie was innocent.

But , after Hans had confessed, Sophie assumed full responsibility in an attempt to protect other members of the White Rose.

The Scholls and Probst were to stand trial before the Volksgerichtshof— the Nazi “People’s Court” infamous for its unfair political trials, which more often than not ended with a death sentence — on 22 February 1943. They were found guilty of treason. Roland Freisler, head judge of the court, sentenced them to death.

Sophie and the 2 others. were executed the same day by guillotine at Stadelheim Prison.

It takes real courage to stand up to evil, especially when you know it can result in death. It is this courage that make all these people real heroes.

Finishing up with a poem about courage by the American poet Edgar Albert Guest

Courage isn’t a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment’s flash;
It isn’t an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring
It isn’t a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;
But it’s something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.

Courage isn’t the last resort
In the work of life or the game of sport;
It isn’t a thing that a man can call
At some future time when he’s apt to fall;
If he hasn’t it now, he will have it not
When the strain is great and the pace is hot.
For who would strive for a distant goal
must always have courage within his soul.

Courage isn’t a dazzling light
that flashes and passes away from sight;
it’s a slow, unwavering, ingrained trait
with the patience to work and the strength to wait.
It’s part of a man when his skies are blue,
it’s part of him when he has work to do.
The brave man never is freed of it.
He has it when there is no need of it.

Courage was never designed for show;
it isn’t a thing that can come and go;
it’s written in victory and defeat
and every trial a man may meet.
It’s part of his hours, his days and his years,
Back of his smiles and behind his tears.
Courage is more than a daring deed:
It’s the breath of life and a strong man’s creed.

sources

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/sophie-scholl-and-white-rose

Christoph Probst-Executed February 22.1943.

Not every German supported the Nazis or signed up to their ideology. There were quite a few who were appalled by what their nation had become under the leadership of Hitler and his regime.

However there were only a handful of people who had the courage to stand up against the Nazis, at risk of their own lives. Some of these were an organisation that called themselves “White Rose”

It was a resistance group in Munich . The group, founded in June 1942, consisted of students from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich who distributed leaflets against the Nazis policies.

Sophie and Hans Scholl were the prominent members , and so much has already been written about the Scholl siblings. I want to focus a bit more on another member, Christoph Probst.

Probst had a lot more to lose the the Scholl siblings, although he was young, he was married with 3 children.

Born in Murnau/Upper Bavaria on November 6, 1919, Probst studied medicines in Munich after his labor and military service in 1939.

In 1941 Christoph he married Herta Dohrn, with whom he later had three children. Alexander Schmorell, a friend of his, introduced Probst to Hans Scholl and his group of friends in the summer of 1942.

Christoph Probst joined the White Rose rather late, as he did not belong to the same student group as Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf, and stayed for the most part in the background. He had to consider the safety of his family. He belonged, together with the Scholl siblings, Graf and Schmorell to the tightest circle, into which university professor Kurt Huber also came.

The White Rose produced, printed and distributed, at the risk of their lives, six leaflets in all.

Although Probst had been transferred to Innsbruck in December 1942, he was still actively involved in the discussion of the fifth White Rose leaflet on his visits to Munich and was also prepared to write his own flyer. After Sophie and Hans Scholl were arrested, on February 18 1943, the Gestapo found a draft leaflet written by Probst in Hans Scholl’s jacket pocket, stating: “Hitler and his regime must fall so that Germany may live on.” Christoph Probst was arrested in Innsbruck on February 20, 1943. To his mother he wrote whilst in prison.

“By an unlikely mishap I have now found myself in an awkward position. I don’t sugarcoat anything when I tell you that I’m fine and that I’m very calm. The treatment is good and life in the cell seems so tolerable to me that I’m not afraid of a longer period of imprisonment… I’m only concerned for you, for the wife and the small children”

On 22 February 1943, Christoph Probst and the Scholls were tried and sentenced together at the Volksgerichtshof by judge Roland Freisler, who had already determined the sentences even before the trial had started.

All three were sentenced to death by guillotine. Their sentences were carried out on the very same day at Stadelheim Prison, Munich. Probst had asked for clemency during interrogation. He also requested a trial for the sake of his wife and three children, who were aged three years, two years and four weeks old. His wife, Herta Probst, was sick with childbed fever at the time.

Shortly before Christoph was executed, he was allowed a visit from a Catholic Priest. Christoph requested baptism into the Catholic faith.

The only consolation to this is that his wife Herta survived the war and died 21 September 2016 aged 102

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/white-rose

https://www.britannica.com/topic/White-Rose#ref1111344

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-white-rose-a-lesson-in-dissent

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Christoph_Probst

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/171854367/herta-siebler-probst

https://www.gdw-berlin.de/en/recess/biographies/index_of_persons/biographie/view-bio/christoph-probst/?no_cache=1

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The Hero Gino Bartali

Gino Bartali won the Giro d’Italia 3 times, in 1936,1937 and 1946. He also won de Tour de France twice, the first time in 1938 and again in 1948. This alone would make him a sporting hero. Especially his 2nd Giro d’Italia win, when his younger brother, Giulio, died in a racing accident on 14 June.1936 Gino came close to giving up cycling.

I could fill the blog will all his efforts as a cyclist, but he also a Hero for a completely different reason. In facts, with these heroic acts he risked his life every time.

Gino Bartali was born on July 18, 1914, in Ponte a Ema, a small village south of Florence, Italy. His father, Torello, was a day laborer. His mother helped support the family by working in the fields and embroidering lace. Gino had two older sisters, Anita and Natalina, and a younger brother, Giulio, who shared his passion for cycling and racing. Gino began to work at a young age, laboring on a farm and helping his mother with embroidery work.

Bartali was a devout Catholic. The summer of 1943 was a turning point for Italy. Mussolini was overthrown in July. In September, the new government signed an armistice with the Allies. Germany invaded the northern regions of the country, including Tuscany. With the German occupation, conditions for the Jewish population grew much worse.

Also in September 1943, Italian Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa asked to meet Bartali. Dalla Costa had been secretly aiding thousands of Jews seeking refuge from other European countries. The fugitives needed falsified identity cards. Dalla Costa shared his plan with Bartali. Under the cover of his long training rides, Bartali could carry counterfeit documents and photos in the hollow frame of his bike. The plan was a nearly perfect one as Bartali knew those roads well and his need to train provided an ideal alibi.

Under the pretense of training, Bartali would set off from his hometown of Florence with life-saving, counterfeit documents hidden away in his handlebars.

These fake identity documents would be used to help Jews escape across the border, or at least help hide their Jewish ethnicity if they were ever stopped and questioned. He would often ride as far as Assisi (over 100 miles one way), where many Jews were being hidden in Franciscan convents.

By taking on this role, he put himself at huge risk. At one point he was arrested and questioned by the head of the Fascist secret police in Florence, where he lived.

The Goldenberg family had met Gino Bartali in 1941 in Fiesole. Shlomo Goldenberg-Paz, who was 9 years old at the time, told Yad Vashem that he remembered a meeting with Bartali and his relative Armando Sizzi, who was a close family friend. The two sat with Shlomo’s father and had “a discussion of adults”. He remembered the event well because the renowned cyclist had given him a bicycle and a photo with a dedication, which Goldbenberg-Paz has always kept. In 1941 the conversation with Bartali could not have dealt with illegal papers, but meeting his childhood hero became engraved in Goldenberg’s memory.

When later on, following the German occupation in 1943, the Goldenbergs went into hiding, Shlomo was first sent to a convent, but then joined his parents who were hiding in an apartment in Florence belonging to Bartali. Gino Bartali helped and supported them. Goldenberg’s cousin, Aurelio Klein also fled to Florence because he had heard that one could obtain forged papers. He stayed in the apartment with the Goldenberg family for a short while, and then fled to Switzerland with the help of forged documents. Klein told Yad Vashem that Shlomo Goldenberg’s mother had received forged papers from Bartali, and that she was the only one in the family who dared set foot outside the apartment and go shopping.

For many years after the war, Bartali did not speak about his role in saving hundreds of people, sharing just a few details with his son Andrea. It was only after his death in 2000, that Bartali’s rescue activities came to light. In 2013, Yad Vashem recognized Gino Bartali with the honor of Righteous Among the Nations.

On July 7, 2013 Yad Vashem recognized Gino Bartali as Righteous Among the Nations.

He had everything to lose. His story is one of the most dramatic examples during World War Two of an Italian willing to risk his own life to save the lives of strangers. We can do with a few heroes like Gino nowadays.

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/gino-bartali

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27333310

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/righteous-sportsmen/bartali.asp

https://www.bicycling.com/news/a27483888/cycling-school-gino-bartali/

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Franz Jägerstätter- Can’t be both Nazi and Catholic

The picture above is of Franz Jägerstätter and his wife Franziska Schwaninger on their wedding day Thursday April 9, 1936, the day before good Friday known as Holy Thursday.

Prior to Franz meeting his wife he had a bit of a reputation. A native of Radegund, near Salzburg. In his younger years he was regarded as a bit of a troublemaker, involved in several fights and the owner of the first motorcycle in the locality ,and even had a child out of wedlock. However he settled down after he met Franziska Schwaninger in 1935. He became a devout Catholic.

The couple did have 3 children

When German troops moved into Austria in March 1938, Jägerstätter rejected the offered position as Radegund mayor. He was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss in the plebiscite of 10 April 1938. Franz was also disturbed by the reports of the T4 Euthanasia program.

Three times he was called up for active service but he always refused.He became known as a conscientious objector who, for reasons of faith, refused to go fight for Hitler. He knew this could cost him his life.

In many writings, Franz told of his reasons for his actions: for him, to fight and kill people so that the godless Nazi regime could conquer and enslave ever more of the world’s peoples would mean becoming personally guilty. Franz prayed, fasted and sought advice. He also requested a talk with the Diocesan Bishop of Linz, Joseph Calasanz Fliesser.

The Bishop explained to Franz that, as the father of a family, it was not his task to decide whether the war was righteous or unrighteous. Franziska had accompanied her husband to Linz, but did not take part in his talk with the Bishop. She recalled the moment when her husband came out of the Bishop’s office: “’He was very sad, and told me: ‘They don’t dare themselves, or it’ll be their turn next:’ Franz’s main impression was that the Bishop did not dare to speak openly, because he didn’t know him – after all, Franz could have been a spy.”

In February 1943, when he received his last summons to Linz military barracks for active service with a motorised unit, he explained his intention of refusing to fight in what he regarded as an immoral war. He stated that he could not be both a Nazi and a Catholic He was promptly arrested and sent on to Berlin to stand trial before a court martial.

After two months in the Wehrmacht Prison in Linz, he was transferred to Berlin-Tegel.
There he was executed on August 9th. In one of the last letters before his death he wrote the well-known sentence: “If I write with my hands tied, it is still better than if the will were tied.” One of his last statements was “If the Church stays silent in the face of evil, what difference would it make if no church were ever opened again?”

By all accounts Franz was a hero and if there had been more people like him, God knows how the was would have gone.

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Sources

https://www.dioezese-linz.at/site/jaegerstaetter/english/biography/article/22528.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/an-irishman-s-diary-1.369074

https://www.meinekirchenzeitung.at/salzburg-tiroler-teil-rupertusblatt/c-kirche-hier-und-anderswo/ein-verborgenes-leben_a8009

The Löb siblings

Family

In the 1920’s it would not be uncommon ,in the Catholic south of the Netherlands, that 1 or 2 children in a family would join a monastery or convent. But 6 from the 8 children was rare. What makes it even more rare with  the Löb siblings that their parents had been Jewish. but they had converted to Catholicism.

Three of the Löb  brothers went to the Koningshoeven Abbey in Berkel-Enschot and two sisters to the nearby Koningsoord Trappist convent.

In 1926, when the oldest son George entered the Cistercian Abbey of Koningshoeven. Robert and Ernst would soon join their brother. George would take the name
Father Ignatius, Robert was Brother Linus and Ernst, Father Nivardus. The
girls in the family soon followed suit the oldest daughter Lina entered a
Trappistine monastery where she was later joined by her twin sisters. Lina
became Mother Hedwig, Dora became Mother Maria Theresia. The  youngest, (by a margin), of the six, the frail Louise, joined her sisters  there in 1937, henceforth she became known as Sister Veronica.

Only Hans and Paula, the two youngest children stayed at home . The Löb parents had died before the Netherlands was occupied.

Catholic Jews, such as the Löb family, did not appear to be in any imminent danger from the German occupiers.

However on 2 August 1942 5 of the Löb siblings were arrested The immediate cause of the arrest of the Löb family  was the letter of protest against the deportation of Jews that was read aloud in churches by order of the bishops in late July 1942. A declaration was being read in churches across the Netherlands, on behalf of the Archbishop. The declaration was a protest at the deportation of Jews.

The 5 had been urged to flee by other Nuns and Monks but they refused, The 3 Brothers said the Nazis threatened to kill ten priests if the brothers didn’t give ourselves up.

The 5 Löb siblings  were transferred to Amersfoort, Westerbork and finally to Auschwitz where, in the autumn of 1942, George and Ernst were killed on August 19, 1942. The other 3 were all killed on September 30,1942.

Louise managed to evade persecution, Several times she was summoned but she always received help, once by  the Jewish Council.And another time by a Doctor who worked at the monastery. Unfortunately because of being frail and sickly she died on August 1,1944 due to Tuberculosis.

Hans,Hans the youngest brother was also arrested by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz,
where he died in February 1945.Paula, the youngest child who had married was hidden by a Catholic family during the Nazi persecution,survived the war.

On 2 August 1942, 245 Jewish Catholics were arrested along with the Löb siblings. To the Nazis it didn’t matter if they had converted to Catholicism, in their eyes and according to their laws these people were still considered Jewish.

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Sources

Brabantremembers.com

Joods Monument

Catholic Heritage Curricula

 

 

It would have been easy to turn a blind eye, but Fr.Lichtenberg didn’t.

Fr Lichtenberg

It would be so easy for ordinary citizens to turn a blind eye to the Holocaust, and indeed many did. I do not judge these people, because  faced with a similar situation I don’t know how I would react. Anyone who was critical against the Nazi regime, could face a prison sentence of worse death. And it really didn’t take that much to be sentenced to death. I can therefore understand why people ignored the things happening around them, for many it was a way to ensure survival.

There were those though how saw the injustice and evil and spoke out against it publicly. People like the Catholic Priest Fr. Bernhard Lichtenberg.

Ever since the Nazis came to power he spoke out against them. After the pogrom of November 9, 1938,known as Kristallnacht he said the following public prayer in the St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin.

cathredal

“We know what was yesterday. We do not know what will be tomorrow. But we have experienced what happened today. Outside, the Temple is burning. That is also a House of God.”

Lichtenberg  prayed publicly for the persecuted Jews at the daily Vespers service. Bishop Konrad von Preysing later entrusted Lichtenberg with the task of helping the Jewish community of the city, via the Welfare Office of the Berlin Diocesan Authority (“Hilfswerk”). In theory non-Aryan Christians were to be supported by the “Fund”. However  the aid was provided to every Jewish citizen who contacted the office.

Lichtenberg protested in person to Nazi officials against the arrest and killing of the sick and mentally ill.In 1941 he wrote a letter to the  chief physician of the Reich, Minister of Public Health Leonardo Conti, in relation to the T4 euthanasia program.

Conti

“I, as a human being, a Christian, a priest, and a German, demand of you, Chief Physician of the Reich, that you answer for the crimes that have been perpetrated at your bidding, and with your consent, and which will call forth the vengeance of the Lord on the heads of the German people.”

Initially the Nazis saw him more of a nuisance then a threat but his  efforts to help the Jews and his calls to put an end to the immoral actions of the Nazis grew stronger. To silence him, the Nazis arrested him on October 23, 1941, and was sentenced to 2 years in prison.But because of his unyielding opposition he was sent to Dachau. However he never reached Dachau.He collapsed and died while in transit, on 5 November 1943 in Hof, Bavaria.

BUST

He died for being a decent Human being , who spoke out about the evil he saw around him.

I am not a Catholic and I don’t believe in saints but of I had to believe in saints, he would be top of my list.

On 7 July 2004 Yad Vashem recognized Bernhard Lichtenberg as a Righteous Among the Nations.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

The Second World War: A Complete History

Bundesarchiv

Yad Vashem

 

The Dutch Pope

Pope

When you think of Popes you wouldn’t think that a small country like the Netherlands ever would produce a Pope. But yet it did.

Born as Adriaan Florensz Boeyens in Utrecht on March 2 1459. He would become thr  head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 9 January 1522 until his death on 14 September 1523.  He would be the only Dutchman so far to become pope, and was the last non-Italian pope until John Paul II, 455 years later.

He was designated the title Pope Adrian VI or also Hadrian VI. Adrian was resented by the Romans as an outsider. He took up the task of reforming the church. Pope Adrian VI took over from Pope Leo X, who had been Pope from 1513 to 1521.Pope Leo had left the papacy in chaos. The treasury was depleted by wars, construction, and private leisure activities.

Adrian chose to keep his birth name. Immediately, the stern theologian made sure that people understood . he was not the sovereign’s puppet. He embarked on a program of reformation to replenish the treasury by putting an end to unnecessary spending

Adrian VI tried to unite the Christians in a crusade against the Turks, he failed in this. Swiftly the Turks under Suleiman the Magnificent conquered Rhodes.

suleman

Adrian also underestimated the early stages of the Lutheran revolt. Adrian did condemn Luther as a heretic, but he took no defensive actions against the Lutheran movement. Ironically the country he was born in would later become one of the most Lutheran countries in Europe.

Adrian VI died in Rome on 14 September 1523, after one year, eight months and six days as pope. Most of his official papers were lost after his death.

Pope A

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

Papalartifacts.com

Britannica.com

 

Why the story of Edith Stein is still relevant.

Edith Stein

An increasing amount of people say that stories of the Holocaust are no longer relevant and should be left in the past. I don’t subscribe to that point of view, remembering the Holocaust is now more important then it ever has been.In a time where some politicians are making policies based on hate, it is relevant to remember it could cost the lives of millions.

The story of Edith Stein also has personal relevance to me. It is a story that intrigues me because it shows how much the Nazis hated the Jewish people, and I do apologize for the phrase but I don’t think there is any other way of saying it. to the Nazis once a Jew always a Jew. It also highlights an ignorance I had as a youngster.

I will not go to deep into the life of Edith Stein because so much is already written about her, and I will not be able to add any value to that.

1938

Edith Stein was born to Jewish parents in Breslau on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11. In 1921 she converted to Catholicism, as did her sister Rosa Stein.

Edith entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery St. Maria vom Frieden (Our Lady of Peace) in Cologne in 1933 and took the religious name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

In 1933 the Nazis also came to power, according to their Nuremberg Race laws both Edith and her sisters were considered to be Jewish, despite the conversion to Catholicism, therefor to avoid persecution by the Nazis, Edith and her sister were transferred to a monastery in Echt in the Netherlands.

Klooster

As I mentioned my youthful ignorance before, Echt is only about 15 km away from my birthplace. It is a small town in the province of Limburg in the south east of the Netherlands. In my late teens and early twenties I would often frequent a nightclub’the Majestic’ in Echt. which was really a stones throw away from the monastery. I also would go there by train and would get off on the very same station which was used decades earlier to transport Edith and Rosa to Camp Amersfoort. And I was completely oblivious to all of that.

station

The Stein sisters were arrested by the SS on 2 August 1942. They were imprisoned at the concentration camps of Amersfoort and Westerbork before being deported to Auschwitz. A Dutch official at Westerbork was so impressed by Edith’s  sense of faith and calm, he offered her an escape plan. She  refused his assistance, stating, “If somebody intervened at this point and took away her chance to share in the fate of her brothers and sisters, that would be utter annihilation”

Edith and Rosa among 985 other Jews were sent to Auschwitz on August 7,1942. It is believed that Edith and her sister both died in the gas chambers on August 9th 1942.

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Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen’s condemnation of the T4 program.

Bishop

The christian churches and especially the Catholic church have often been criticized for turning a blind eye to the Nazi regime, and to an extend that is true for they could have done more. However to say they did nothing is untrue, There were may clergy men who spoke out to Hitler and his friends, and some of them were even actively involved in the resistance.

One of the leading Catholic ministers, Bishop von Galen, held 3 sermons were he strongly condemned the Nazi regime. Each time he risked his life for Hitler allowed no criticism. From 1941 to the end of the war the Bishop was put under a virtual house arrest.

Below is the translation of the sermon he held on August 3, 1941. Condemning the T4 Program, the euthanizing of the mentally disabled.

t4

It is quite a lengthy text, so therefor  have used an abbreviated version but it still captures the essence of the sermon

“My dear diocesans In the pastoral letter of the German bishops of June 26, 1941, which was read out in all the Catholic churches in Germany on July 6, 1941, it states among other things: It is true that there are definite commandments in Catholic moral doctrine which are no longer applicable if their fulfillment involves too many difficulties.

However, there are sacred obligations of conscience from which no one has the power to release us and which we must fulfil even if it costs us our lives. Never under any circumstances may a human being kill an innocent person apart from war and legitimate self-defense. On July 6, I already had cause to add to the pastoral letter the following explanation: for some months we have been hearing reports that, on the orders of Berlin, patients from mental asylums who have been ill for a long time and may appear incurable, are being compulsorily removed. Then, after a short time, the relatives are regularly informed that the corpse has been burnt and the ashes can be delivered. There is a general suspicion verging on certainty, that these numerous unexpected deaths of mentally ill people do not occur of themselves but are deliberately brought about, that the doctrine is being followed, according to which one may destroy so-called ‘worthless life,’ that is, kill innocent people if one considers that their lives are of no further value for the nation and the state.

I am reliably informed that lists are also being drawn up in the asylums of the province of Westphalia as well of those patients who are to be taken away as so-called ‘unproductive national comrades’ and shortly to be killed. The first transport left the Marienthal institution near Münster during this past week.

transport

German men and women, section 211 of the Reich Penal Code is still valid. It states: ‘He who deliberately kills another person will be punished by death for murder if the killing is premeditated.’

Those patients who are destined to be killed are transported away from home to a distant asylum presumably in order to protect those who deliberately kill those poor people, members of our families, from this legal punishment. Some illness is then given as the cause of death. Since the corpse has been burnt straight away, the relatives and also the criminal police are unable to establish whether the illness really occurred and what the cause of death was.

However, I have been assured that the Reich Interior Ministry and the office of the Reich Doctors’ Leader, Dr. Conti, make no bones about the fact that in reality a large number of mentally ill people in Germany have been deliberately killed and more will be killed in the future.

The Penal Code lays down in section 139: ‘He who receives credible information concerning the intention to commit a crime against life and neglects to alert the authorities or the person who is threatened in time…will be punished.’

When I learned of the intention to transport patients from Marienthal in order to kill them, I brought a formal charge at the State Court in Münster and with the Police President in Münster by means of a registered letter which read as follows: “According to information which I have received, in the course of this week a large number of patients from the Marienthal Provincial Asylum near Münster are to be transported to the Eichberg asylum as so-called ‘unproductive national comrades’ and will then soon be deliberately killed, as is generally believed has occurred with such transports from other asylums. Since such an action is not only contrary to the moral laws of God and Nature but also is punishable with death as murder under section 211 of the Penal Code, I hereby bring a charge in accordance with my duty under section 139 of the Penal Code, and request you to provide immediate protection for the national comrades threatened in this way by taking action against those agencies who are intending their removal and murder, and that you inform me of the steps that have been taken.”

I have received no news concerning intervention by the Prosecutor’s Office or by the police…Thus we must assume that the poor helpless patients will soon be killed.

For what reason?

Not because they have committed a crime worthy of death. Not because they attacked their nurses or orderlies so that the latter had no other choice but to use legitimate force to defend their lives against their attackers. Those are cases where, in addition to the killing of an armed enemy in a just war, the use of force to the point of killing is allowed and is often required.

No, it is not for such reasons that these unfortunate patients must die but rather because, in the opinion of some department, on the testimony of some commission, they have become ‘worthless life’ because according to this testimony they are ‘unproductive national comrades.’ The argument goes: they can no longer produce commodities, they are like an old machine that no longer works, they are like an old horse which has become incurably lame, they are like a cow which no longer gives milk.

poster

What does one do with such an old machine? It is thrown on the scrap heap. What does one do with a lame horse, with such an unproductive cow?

No, I do not want to continue the comparison to the end–however fearful the justification for it and the symbolic force of it are. We are not dealing with machines, horses and cows whose only function is to serve mankind, to produce goods for man. One may smash them, one may slaughter them as soon as they no longer fulfil this function.

No, we are dealing with human beings, our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters. With poor people, sick people, if you like unproductive people.

But have they for that reason forfeited the right to life?

Have you, have I the right to live only so long as we are productive, so long as we are recognized by others as productive?

If you establish and apply the principle that you can kill ‘unproductive’ fellow human beings then woe betide us all when we become old and frail! If one is allowed to kill the unproductive people then woe betide the invalids who have used up, sacrificed and lost their health and strength in the productive process. If one is allowed forcibly to remove one’s unproductive fellow human beings then woe betide loyal soldiers who return to the homeland seriously disabled, as cripples, as invalids. If it is once accepted that people have the right to kill ‘unproductive’ fellow humans–and even if initially it only affects the poor defenseless mentally ill–then as a matter of principle murder is permitted for all unproductive people, in other words for the incurably sick, the people who have become invalids through labor and war, for us all when we become old, frail and therefore unproductive.

Then, it is only necessary for some secret edict to order that the method developed for the mentally ill should be extended to other ‘unproductive’ people, that it should be applied to those suffering from incurable lung disease, to the elderly who are frail or invalids, to the severely disabled soldiers. Then none of our lives will be safe any more. Some commission can put us on the list of the ‘unproductive,’ who in their opinion have become worthless life. And no police force will protect us and no court will investigate our murder and give the murderer the punishment he deserves.

Who will be able to trust his doctor any more?

Brandt

He may report his patient as ‘unproductive’ and receive instructions to kill him. It is impossible to imagine the degree of moral depravity, of general mistrust that would then spread even through families if this dreadful doctrine is tolerated, accepted and followed.

Woe to mankind, woe to our German nation if God’s Holy Commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ which God proclaimed on Mount Sinai amidst thunder and lightning, which God our Creator inscribed in the conscience of mankind from the very beginning, is not only broken, but if this transgression is actually tolerated and permitted to go unpunished.

Cardinal Clemens von Galen – August 3, 1941

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“Sources

http://www.traditioninaction.org

http://www.historyplace.com

http://www.catholicculture.org

 

When the Pope warned about an imminent attack on the low countries.

Pope Pius XII

On 4 May 1940, the Vatican advised the Netherlands envoy to the Vatican that the Germans planned to invade France through the low countries. With the blessing of the Pope, the Vatican sent a coded radio message to its nuncios in Brussels and The Hague. The messages were intercepted by the Nazis

On May 5 1940,Pope Pius XII shared the intelligence gathered by Vatican agents that Germany was planning on invading the Low Countries with the Princess of Piedmont Marie José, who was the sister of King Leopold III of Belgium and wife of Italian Crown Prince Umberto.

Marie-José_of_Belgium2

On the same day, a massive German armoured motorised column many miles long was spotted driving west through the Ardennes forest but the Belgian Army did not respond.

convoy

 

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