Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jesuits In NAZI Germany

Fr. Lothar Konig, S.J.
Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.
The Kreisau Circle was a loose association of aristocrats, civil servants, clergy, and Social Democrats who gathered in small, secret meetings to plan a post-Nazi constitutional government, one based on Christian social-justice principles. Rosch, as Jesuit provincial, had been invited to help link the group with the Catholic bishops. He brought with him Lothar Konig and Alfred Delp. In the mid-1930s, Rosch had been catapulted from his position as rector of a boys school in Austria to superior of the Jesuits' South German province. He immediately distinguished himself as an outstanding administrator, and soon gained the confidence of the German bishops. Rosch had contacts in Rome at the highest levels, including the Jesuit superior general and Robert Leiber, a German Jesuit who served as secretary to Pope Pius XII  Rosch corresponded regularly with them, giving details of the plight of harassed and imprisoned, treatment of Russian prisoners of war prisoners of war, in international law, persons captured by a belligerent while fighting in the military. International law includes rules on the treatment of prisoners of war but extends protection only to combatants. In one letter he described Germany's situation as "the apocalypse of the twentieth century."  Unlike Rosch, whose leadership position and combative personality had led to frequent run-ins with the Gestapo, Konig pursued his underground work behind an imperturbable facade. Placed in charge of the house of studies known as Berchmanskolleg, he had managed to wrest the building from the SS, which had requisitioned it, by offering it to the Wehrmacht as a military base and hospital. The army's special communications system  proved useful, and working quietly in the background, Konig was able to keep the country's bishops informed about events elsewhere. He would move about in cloak-and-dagger fashion, sometimes appearing from nowhere on a bishop's doorstep, bringing the latest news, and encouraging the hierarchy in its struggles with the Nazis. He produced a list of the dead from the nearby Dachau concentration camp (some said he had coaxed a cleaning woman into letting him into the room where the camp's records were kept), as well as a text describing conditions at the camp. He sent these documents to Rome.
Link (here) to the complete and riveting article.

1 comment:

Daniel Latinus said...

The German resistance to Hitler is a story that deserves to be better known, and the Catholic participation in that resistance also needs to be better known.

Thanks for posting this.