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Franz Jagerstatter: Letters and Writings from Prison Paperback – June 1, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570758263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570758263
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Not many people in the German-Austrian Hitler's Third Reich dared say to no to the government's demands. One of the exceptions was an Austrian farmer, Franz Jagerstatter. For refusing to serve in the army, he was beheaded in Berlin in 1943.

Not only did he see the nature of Nazism with extraordinary clarity but, despite his modest education, was able to write with a freshness that remains compelling. Thanks to Orbis Books, we now have an English translation of all Jagerstatter's letters and other writings, all written while he was a prisoner. The result is an inspiring testament of faith and courage.

Before refusing to serve in the German-Austrian army, Jagerstatter consulted both his pastor and his local bishop, who - no doubt reluctantly - advised him to do his duty and to obey the law. His neighbors, though themselves were unsympathetic with Nazism, had the same opinion.

In one of the memorable sections of this book, Jagerstatter describes a dream which stood behind his conscientious objection. In it he saw "a wonderful train" coming round a mountain. The gleaming engine and carriages seemed especially attractive to children, who "flowed to this train, and were not held back." Then a voice said to him, "This train is going to hell." He woke his wife to tell her of his dream and continued to think about it long afterward. The train, he realized, symbolized the glittering Nazi regime with all its spectacles and its associated organizations, Hitler Youth being one of the most important and corrupting. The dream seemed to Franz a message from heaven. The Nazi movement -- with its racism, its cult of violence, its elimination of those members of society regarded as unfit, its efforts to suppress Christianity -- was satanic.
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Franz Jagerstatter was a Catholic Austrian farmer who graduated from a one-room school at fourteen. He spent some time working in the mines before returning to his home-town of St. Radegund. At St. Radegund he fathered a child out of wedlock and then married Franziska Schaninger and started farming. The couple had two small children and Franz grew deeper in his Catholic faith. In 1938, Austria was incorporated into the National Socialist (NS) German Reich, initially by force and then by a plebiscite.

From 1940 to 1941, Franz was inducted into the Austrian army, where he was trained as a soldier away from St. Radegund. During that time, he wrote letters to wife. These letters are beautiful expressions of the love of a man for his wife and family. Franz also offers the perspective of an Austrian peasant on his times, his faith and on the NS influence on Austria. These letters are particularly poignant because we know Franz's destiny.

After he was mustered out of training in 1941, Franz returned to St. Radegund, where he thought about the NS and what it meant to be complicit in NS evil. In 1943, Franz was recalled to military service. The NS was an evil condemned by the Catholic Church. Bishops and priests were arrested and imprisoned for speaking against the NS. Service in the military was service to evil, but Franz had a family and not serving was disobedience to the State, and to God who ordained the State, and was punishable by death. Soldiers were dying in the East for an evil cause, and while military service was less risky than a predestined execution by guillotine, death in such service would be a violation of conscience, which could merit eternal loss.
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Wow, what a book. I read this over the past winter and love everything about this person.
What a humble soul, what a good man, thanks Franz...
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I need help getting my laptop to play it
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