An amazing Christian who defied the Nazis!

Hello all. :slight_smile:

I have just watched a documentary called: “Ladder in the Lion’s Den.” and had to share.
It is an amazing story of a Christian who refused to support Hitler and the Nazis despite the most savage pressures put upon him.

His story is told in brief here:

His name was Leopold Engleitner and he died as the oldest male Holocaust survivor in 2013.

Many think of the Holocaust as a persecution of only the Jews. Infact there were many others also targeted who did not fit the Nazi’s ideals. The Christian group who were incompatible with Hitlers Ideas wore the badge of the Purple Triangle:

Unlike the Jews these had the opportunity to renounce their Christian faith and be released.
Almost none accepted this choice.

It just goes to show the amazing strength true faith can have.:thumbsup:

No comments yet. Is such a person not of interest?
Why is that? Nothing to do with his religion I hope! :smiley:

In case you haven’t noticed this is the heaviest travelled sub-forum on CAF. There are a lot of stories to choose from.

That is probably the reason.
I was starting to suspect that many did not welcome a reminder of the contrast between the stand of Jehovahs witnesses and the other churches during one of the greatest moral trials in history.
Lots of people = no comments. Good point! I should have thought of that. :smiley:

A lot of people are drive-by readers too. Or will comment later. When you see your thread’s name on the list, check the reader column too. Right NOW it should be toward the top because I just POSTED … that does move it up there.

But sometimes your sharing a good thing that is profound leaves people as reflective … and maybe holding their commentary until later. I’ll read the article in more detail later. For now … thanks for posting it. :slight_smile:

We run neck and neck with Liturgy and Sacraments most of the time, but I’ll overtake Jean Anthony pretty soon.

Inspiring story. :slight_smile: I am also reminded of the witness a Blessed Franz Jägerstätter.

God bless him.

This man was truly a hero in my eyes as was many who actually fought in the war to help end the atrocities. It takes ALL kinds! Reminds me of what St Paul writes in 1Cor 9:20-23. :thumbsup:


I think I have seen a movie about him! What a courageous stand to make!

I wonder how many others wished they had made a similar stand when looking back having sobered up and realised what they had been supporting.
I guess fear, ignorance and patriotism blinded many. :frowning:

Indeed. Who could argue the Nazi government had to be defeated.

Though I have often wondered:

**What would have happened if the Pope had made a similar stand as the Purple Triangles? **

What would have been the result if he had declared war incompatible with Christian principles, and the total obedience demanded by Hitler akin to false worship?
(He could have quoted Jesus words to Pilate at John 18:36 as justification.)

Would that have sapped Hitler of millions of supporters and paralysed his plans?
Or would loyalty to country have overridden religious obedience?
(I think there is an alternative history book to be written on that idea)

Any thoughts on what the result would have been? :confused:
I am seriously interested in peoples opinions.

:thumbsup:Im glad we agree.

Who could argue the Nazi government had to be defeated.

All Christians living today.

Though I have often wondered:

Nothing wrong with that.:thumbsup:

What would have happened if the Pope had made a similar stand as the Purple Triangles?

He can, he has, and he will. What he cannot do is control worldly people. And as we both have agreed, “we are to be all things to all”.

What would have been the result if he had declared war incompatible with Christian principles, and the total obedience demanded by Hitler akin to false worship?
(He could have quoted Jesus words to Pilate at John 18:36 as justification.)

He did and its one of the reasons he was elected pope.

Someone else more versed than I may help here but you may want to see Ubi Primum and Ad Beatissimi 3

Would that have sapped Hitler of millions of supporters and paralysed his plans?
Or would loyalty to country have overridden religious obedience?
(I think there is an alternative history book to be written on that idea)


Any thoughts on what the result would have been? :confused:
I am seriously interested in peoples opinions.

Good title for another thread!

[quote]Just War theory postulates that war, while very terrible, is not always the worst option.



This is from the alphahistory website. It is a site run by historians, and has nothing to do with Catholicism.

The Catholic Church … consistently maintained an anti-Nazi attitude. In several parts of Germany Catholics were explicitly forbidden to become members of the Nazi Party, and Nazi members were forbidden to take part in church funerals and ceremonies. The bishop of Mainz even refused to admin NSDAP members to the holy sacraments.Jane Caplan, historian," Pacelli and his colleagues were not optimistic about the terms of theReichskonkordat. They knew Hitler would not protect the church’s rights – and would probably infringe them himself." It was, as put by historian Hubert Wolf, “a pact with the devil – no one had any illusions about that fact in Rome – but it [at least] guaranteed the continued existence of the Catholic Church during the Third Reich”. The Nazis began flouting the terms of the concordat while the ink on it was still drying. In December 1933, Berlin ordered that all editors and publishers must belong to a Nazi ‘literary society’; this decree gagged Catholic publications and prevented church leaders from protesting breaches of theReichskonkordat. Between 1934 and 1936 the Nazis ordered several Catholic and Lutheran youth groups to be absorbed by the Hitler Youth. Catholic schools were shut down and replaced with ‘community schools’, run by pro-Nazis. A year-long campaign against Catholic schools in Munich in 1935 saw enrolments drop by more than 30 per cent.In 1936 there were more direct attacks on the church and its members. Dozens of Catholic priests were arrested by the Gestapo and given show trials, where fabricated evidence was used to suggest they were involved in corruption, prostitution, homosexuality and pedophilia. Anti-Catholic propaganda appeared on street corners and in the pages of the notorious anti-Semitic newspaper,Der Sturmer. This campaign produced a defensive response from the church: a March 1937 encyclical (circular letter) entitledMit brennender Sorge*(‘With burning concern’). It was written by Michael von Faulhaber, archbishop of Munich, with an introduction by Cardinal Pacelli and an endorsement from Pope Pius XI.Mit brennender Sorgecriticised Nazi breaches of the*Reichskonkordat, condemned Nazi views on race and ridiculed the glorification of statehood and leaders:Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the state, or a particular form of state … above their standard value, and raises them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God.More than a quarter-million copies of the encyclical were distributed to German churches, to be read to congregations from the pulpit. Hitler was infuriated and the Nazi response was swift and intense. Gestapo agents raided churches and printers, seizing and destroying copies of the encyclical wherever they could be found. The campaign of propaganda and show trials against Catholic clergy continued apace through 1938-39, and several priests ended up behind the barbed wire at Dachau and Oranienburg.- See more at:…1HAqCqsu.dpuf

And this from a Jewish website found here:

       It  is  important  to  note  that  the  Vatican  strongly  condemned  Nazi ideology in the late '20s' and throughout the '30s'.  Cardinal Pacelli, as Pius 

XII then was, was particularly outspoken. But even his supporters do not
dispute that papal pronouncements during the war were extremely guarded.
At its strongest, the case for this policy is that explicit attacks on the
Nazi regime would have had serious consequences for Catholics throughout
occupied Europe, and might have made the situation even worse for Jews
and anyone the Church sought to defend. The example usually cited is the
reprisals taken against Catholics of Jewish origin in Holland in 1942, after an
outspoken condemnation by Holland’s Catholic bishops of the deportation of
Dutch Jewry. ** Catholic institutions were able to shelter victims of Nazism, only
provided their neutrality was respected by German forces.**
This is a substantial argument, albeit one that has in turn been open to
controversy. The Dutch example, when the bishops clearly decided where
their duty lay, is not the only instance of religious protest in occupied Europe
and there are equally well-known cases when no reprisals were taken, notably
Cardinal von Galen’s indictment of the Nazi euthanasia policy in 1941.
Pius XII’s position appears to have been formulated soon after the Nazi
occupation of Poland. In 1937, Cardinal Pacelli, as Pius XII then was, helped
draft Mit Brennender Sorge, his predecessor’s powerful critique of Nazism;
and his own first encyclical, issued soon after the invasion of Poland in 1939,
included a strong statement about Polish suffering, although it did not explicitly condemn German aggression. ** But he was informed by some
leading Polish Catholics that similar statements made over Vatican radio were
leading to vicious Nazi reprisals;** and the papal responses to the invasion of
the Low Countries in 1940 were noticeably muted.

In 1998, Sister Pasqualina, who supervised the Pope's household during 

the war years, claimed that the Pope had intended to write about Jewish
suffering in 1942, but stopped short when he heard about the savage
response to the Dutch bishops’ endeavours in Holland. There is also
evidence that the Pope instructed church leaders to act positively at local
level, if they felt that some good could be achieved, but he appears to have
believed that the** consequences of a papal statement were dangerously
unpredictable,** as such a statement would be heard in every part of occupied
Europe, regardless of particular circumstances.
Throughout the war, the Pope was determined to maintain Vatican
neutrality, and in the early years he hoped to be able to negotiate peace
between Germany and the Allies. The Pope was following a well-established
Vatican policy in times of war, but clearly Nazism represented an
unprecedented political evil, and in the circumstances of World War II, such
neutrality raised complex moral issues, exacerbated by a lack of interest in
Vatican mediation on the part of the belligerents. Furthermore, the policy of
neutrality inhibited the Vatican’s capacity to act on behalf of the victims, and
might have been responsible for the obstacles encountered by Gerhardt
Some commentators have emphasized the Papal Concordat with
Hitler’s Germany signed in 1933 and negotiated by Cardinal Pacelli as Papal
Nuncio. Combined with the Pope’s profound hostility to Bolshevism, this
seems to provide damaging insight into Vatican policy, but the argument has
considerable weaknesses. By the period of the Holocaust, Vatican relations
with Germany were very tense, and little remained of the Concordat. Nazi
intentions for the Catholic Church were made very clear in the Warthegau, a
Polish territory assimilated to the Reich, where the Church was subject to
draconian legislation, as well as in Germany itself. Also, the Vatican did not
recognize German territorial expansion, and offered no support for Operation
Barbarossa, when Germany invaded Soviet Russia in 1941. American
Catholics who had qualms about working in armament factories supplying
weapons to Russia were privately reassured by the Vatican. The Roman
Catholic Church indeed opposed Bolshevism, but as the Russian people had
been attacked, they were entitled to defend themselves.

The pope did stand against the Nazis.

Read the papal encyclical of 1937. It was smuggled into Germany and read from the pulpits of all Catholic churches during mass.

As you’d expect the Nazis went nuts;

Also check out the work by the Jewish researcher Gary Krupp on the pope’s very strong resistance to the National Socialism of the Nazis.

and one of Gary Krupp many interviews

You can’t be serious.

Thanks so much for your research! Abucs :slight_smile:

I do not dispute any of the facts you present!

Indeed, I have read the book “The Popes last Crusade.” - As well as the 1937 Enclyptic, It seems Pius XI was having another encyclical written that would denounce the Nazi racial ideology in even more powerful terms!
(Unfortunately, it seems the Jesuit General mothballed the master copy he was supposed to pass on to the Pope for approval and it never saw the light of day.)

Also Pius XI had a big meeting for all the Italian Bishops scheduled in 1939 where many speculate he was going to excommunicate Mussolini or Hitler or both! - (Pius XI died just days before it was to happen)

So I think Pius XI had realised the Nazis and Fascists were evil and could not be worked with or restrained. The concordat signed with Nazi Germany had been repeatedly broken by the Nazis.

Also “Lax16 “ has highlighted numerous courageous individuals who resisted the Nazis dsepite great danger to themselves. (sometimes at the cost of their lives)

And there are many examples of those who assisted and saved thousands from the concentration camps – including church buildings and even the Vatican used to conceal ones in danger.

None of this I dispute for a moment! Infact I could add numerous examples myself from my own reading. (This is a period of History I am quite fascinated by)

But despite all these heroic examples –** obviously the holocaust still happened. **

Obviously a large percentage of the population still gave the Nazis support. (grudginly or willingly)
In the 1930’s about a third of German population was Catholic, (closer to 50% when Austria was annexed in 1938) The rest were usually Protestants. Most Germans back then were still regular church goers.
Of Germany’s allies, Hungary and Italy were almost totally Catholic.

How do we account for this? :confused:

In fact, I’m not just talking about the Holocaust. (Which could perhaps be blamed on a few fanatics from the SS)

We are talking about the kind of support that enabled Nazi Germany the power to fight a major war for five and a half years - only defeated by the combined might of the British Empire, The Soviet Union and the USA!

How do we account for this in a “Christian” nation if the churches were largely against the Nazis? :confused:

I suspect these heroic examples of defiance are exceptions, not the uniform response. (infact I notice many of them are from countries that were enemies of Germany - which would easily explain their stand)

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