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Franz Jägerstätter: The Austrian Catholic Nazi Opposer

Everyone knows the gruesome and inhumane acts that Adolf Hitler did after being appointed chancellor of Germany in 1933. It marked as the time where Nazis tried to take over the world and impose their beliefs that Jews and Christians were an abomination of the earth that he eradicated most of Austria’s population who had a religion. He even stated that Christianity was a religion that was fitting for slaves, which already tells a lot about him.

Amidst the major population of Germany siding with Hitler, one Austrian resisted Hitler’s ideologies, and his name was Franz Jägerstätter. He was one of the few Germans that stood up to the wrongdoings of the Nazis and even gave his life, signifying how much he disagreed with them.

The Early Years of Franz Jägerstätter

Franz was born in Sankt Radegund, Upper Austria, a small village between Braunau am Inn and Salzburg. His mom was Rosalia Huber and Franz Bachmeier. As he grew up, everyone thought of him to be wild, but his daily life was nothing special than a usual Austrian peasant.

In 1936, Franz married a religious woman named Franziska Schwaninger. He took an interest in religion as his wife deeply inspired him. At that time, Franz began reading and studying the bible and even learning about the lives of saints. And when the German troops started to occupy Austria, he remained an anti-Nazi and never hid it from anyone. Franz joined the Third Order of Saint Francis on December 8, 1940, and managed to get a sacristan role at his local church, where he was delayed from military service four times.

Unfortunately, he got drafted into the military on June 17, 1940, where he was enlisted into the German Wehrmacht in October and finished his field training at the Enns garrison. During his time in the military, he never accepted the Hitler oath, which he then returned home in 1941 since he was considered a farmer.

A photo of Franz Jägerstätter and Franziska Schwaninger after their wedding ceremony.

The Arrest and Death of Franz Jägerstätter

After countless delays, Franz Jägerstätter was called to serve in the military on February 23, 1943. He managed to stay alongside fighting for Nazi Germany, but he declared his conscientious objection when he entered the Wehrmacht garrison in Enns on March 1. He was even ignored for the position as a medic when he requested a transfer.

He was later arrested and taken to Linz remand prison and accused of Wehrkraftzersetzung, meaning he undermined military morale. He was sentenced to death for agitation in the military trial and executed by guillotine in the afternoon of August 9, age 36. And in June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI put out an apostolic exhortation declaring Franz Jägerstätter a martyr. He was beatified in a ceremony carried out at the New Cathedral in Linz by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins. You can celebrate his feast day on May 21, the day of his baptism.


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