Saturday, September 19, 2009

Totalitarian Regimes 2

This is what happened to you, if you refused to fight Hitler's war. This story is well known because Franz Jaegerstaetter is up for beatification by the Roman Catholic church.

Franz Jägerstätter (in English also spelled Franz Jaegerstaetter) was born in Sankt Radegund, Austria, a small village near Salzburg and Braunau am Inn. He was the illegitimate child of Rosalia Huber and Franz Bachmeier. The child was first brought up by his grandmother, Elisabeth Huber. Franz's natural father was killed in World War I when he was still a child, and when his mother married, Franz was adopted by her husband, Heinrich Jägerstätter.

In his youth, Franz had gained a reputation for being a wild fellow, but, in general, his daily life was like that of most Austrian peasants. In 1933, he fathered an out of wedlock daughter, Hildegard Auer.[1]

In 1936, he married Franziska Schwaninger, a girl from a nearby village, and they went to Rome on their honeymoon. A Catholic by birth, he experienced a religious awakening - apparently about the time of his marriage – and later served as sexton of his parish church.

When German troops moved into Austria in 1938, Jägerstätter was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss. Although he was not involved with any political organization, and did undergo one brief period of military training, he remained openly anti-Nazi, and publicly declared he would not fight in the war.

After many delays, Jägerstätter was called to active duty in February, 1943. By this time, he had three daughters with his wife, the eldest not quite six. He maintained his position against fighting for the Third Reich, and was imprisoned, first at Linz, then at Berlin. After a military trial, he was sentenced to death and subsequently executed by guillotine on August 9, 1943, aged 36.

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