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National socialism : A life against the Nazis

"As Christians, we can no longer stand it no longer, that the Church is silent in Germany to the persecution of Jews. What drives us is the simple commandment

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National socialism : A life against the Nazis


"As Christians, we can no longer stand it no longer, that the Church is silent in Germany to the persecution of Jews. What drives us is the simple commandment of love of neighbor. (...) The Church has any anti-Semitism in the municipality. The state of the Church bear witness to the salvation-historical significance of Israel and to make every attempt to destroy Judaism, resistance. Each of the non-Aryans, whether Jew or Christian, is today Fallen in Germany, under the killer.“
Probably no other German priest said, so brave, so clear and at the same time, publicly from the pulpit as the young reformed theologian Helmut Hesse on the occasion of a prayer service at 6. June 1943 in Wuppertal-Elberfeld. One asks today, after Helmut Hesse, the majority of answers will be: it Is not known to me. All over the world, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemöller, or Sophie Scholl – but who knows Helmut Hesse? Two days after his reported sermon, the words of the young Hesse was arrested by the Gestapo. After a long imprisonment, he died at 24. November 1943 at the age of 27 years in the Dachau concentration camp.

an eye-witness, he saw the "Anschluss" of Austria

Helmut Hesse was born in the year of the war, in 1916, in Bremen, Germany and grew up as the youngest son of the renowned reformed pastor Hermann Albert Hesse in Elberfeld. Like his three brothers, he studied theology and took part already during the studies at the Church of fight. A significant imprint he's learned from the Swiss reformed theologian Karl Barth, in which he studied 1937/38 two semesters in Basel, Switzerland. In March 1938, he took part in the friendly Berlin, a pastor's daughter, Ruth Wendland, who also studied with Barth, on behalf of the confessing Church (BK) a visit to a business trip to Austria and Hungary. The two travelers were eye-witnesses to the "Anschluss" of Austria to Hitler's Reich. In the travel diary Hesse has described for him politically, such as the Church politically depressing impressions from this trip is impressive.
In February 1940, Hesse graduated from the 1. Theological examination before the examination Commission of the Rhine BK. The Council of the Bank of the Rhine BK with the (government-related) Consistory in Düsseldorf, completed "the legalization Convention", which, in the future, tests of BK-pastor candidate to the Consistory, refused to Helmut Hesse vehemently. He saw in this compromise, a departure from the spirit of the confessional synods of Barmen and Dahlem (may and October 1934).

With the confessing Church, it came to a break

Tragically deepened the gap between the king James rectory, Hesse and the Rhenish confessing Church during the years 1941 to 1943 to the de facto rupture. In the spring of 1943, it came in the reformed community of Elberfeld to a singular event. The management of the BK are not authorized the College examined the young pastor candidates. In the subsequent worship Helmut Hesse was ordained by his father, Hermann Albert Hesse, "to a servant of the word in the word of God reformed the Church".
Only for a short time, the young priest officiated in Elberfeld. Together with his father, he headed the 23. In may 1943 the Church service, said this in his sermon critical of the compromise-like behavior of the BK and mentioned in the intercession, including imprisoned Christians such as Martin Niemöller, Heinrich Grüber, and the wrocław town vicar Katharina Staritz.
A week later, large parts sank Wuppertal-Barmens for night bomber attacks in rubble and ashes. The above-mentioned worship of 6. June was marked by this disaster. Father Hermann Albert Hesse saw the destroyed Wuppertal "under the mighty judgment of God". As in sermons before his son took up the theme of the "Jewish question" and spoke in an unusually open way, as nowhere else during a Church service in the "third Reich" happened. It was a public call for resistance against the murder of the Jews. Hesse refused to formulations of the "Munich lay letter", the Stuttgart confession of pastor Hermann Diem had written. The Gestapo report notes to the financial statements, that the about 150 visitors this evening by the remarks of the preacher were visibly impressed.

An Offense against the "treachery law"

Two days later, the Gestapo arrested father and son Hesse. As a primer called "state of hostility" and repeated public prayer for the Jews. After long interrogations, the Gestapo, summed up the charges against Helmut Hesse: He had read in the intercession of the names of imprisoned pastor, what was forbidden; he had spoken in prayer against the powers, against the current Nazi government; finally, he had on 6. June, preached in a public speech in the state of harmful way about the Jewish problem. His opinions on the "Jewish question" to be Offences against Clause 2 of the treachery act. After months of imprisonment in Wuppertal, father and son, Hesse, were transferred in November 1943 in the Dachau concentration camp. Helmut Hesse, who suffered from chronic renal failure, was weakened by a long detention period and withdrawal of vital medication. After ten days, he died in the infirmary barracks of the Dachau concentration camp.

Helmut Hesse had a variety of Connections to Berlin. In the winter semester of 1938/39, he studied at the (illegal) Ecclesiastical College of the Church opposition in Berlin. Spiritus Rector of this institution to the BK of the reformed Spandau Superintendent Martin Albertz, one of the most consistent confession was the Imperial capital of theologians. The relations between the Elberfeld reformed parsonage, Hesse and Albertz were extremely tight. At the same time, Hesse contacts with the rectory of Walter Wendland of Gethsemane had a municipality in the district of Prenzlauer Berg. With the pastor's daughter, Ruth Wendland, he was a friend to 1938 close, and he was also the Wendland later, often a guest in the home, such as diary notes by Angelika tail born (geb. Wendland), and for the war years show. There were also Links to the office of pastor Grüber and Helmut Gollwitzer in Berlin-Dahlem. In January 1943, Helmut Hesse took part in the subversive Meeting decided to oppositional BK-theologians in the rectory part of Wendland, in the case of the aid for the persecuted "non-Aryans" were advised.

From the confessing Church had you not expect great solidarity

Helmut Hesse's short life between two world-a life against the prevailing German Mainstream of the era: against the populist, anti-Semitic ideology of the Nazis and their demands for professing Christians as well as against the ruling totalitarian political Regime was wars. In contrast to large Parts of contemporary Protestantism, joined this destructive epoch, a trend, he realized early on that for Christianity much to the game, it went to its existence.
Hesse turned against the widespread völkisch-anti-Semitic Protestantism in the form of new faith movements, which called themselves German Christians, and the ducks in the NS-Regime willingly Andi. After all, he fell, in addition to a few comrades-in-arms and comrades-in-arms, the difficult role of an Opposition in the Church opposition (BK). Chosen as only a few he held until recently in the decisions of the BK-synods of Barmen and Dahlem, and refused to allow circles to compromise with the moderate Church. The price for this Unconditionality was high. Towards the end of the Church struggle of the time he and the rectory Hesse in Wuppertal, Germany, were also among the "faith of the BK brothers isolated". Even there, father and son, Hesse had expected, no great solidarity more than they were arrested in 1943.

Helmut Hesse acknowledged has been acknowledged in the post-war period little. The belonged to apparently churches to the Habitus of the post-War, and happened similarly for many other persons of Christian resistance, as in the case of the Berlin historian Elisabeth Schmitz or the "non-Aryan" lawyers and professing Christian Friedrich Weißler. On The Occasion Of Hesse's 75. Anniversary of the death in November of 2018, there was, fortunately, a worship service in the Dachau memorial, which was dedicated to the Victims of the November pogroms of 1938, and in the course of which the EKD Council chair Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the fate of the Protestant Martyr, Hesse recalled. Also in Wuppertal, Germany, took place on may 24. November 2018, a worthy Church in commemoration of the Elberfelder cemetery Church, exactly at the place where his father, Hermann Albert Hesse for many years, had preached. The Berlin Church was not, unfortunately, able, on the occasion of the 75. To remember the anniversary of the death of Helmut Hesse, the Church, political action was often associated with Berlin, with its own event at this unique "protesting Protestants". - The author is a historian. On the subject of him is just the book appeared: Against the Mainstream of the Hitler time. The Wuppertal-Theologian Helmut Hesse (1916-1943), Bremen/Wuppertal (De Noantri) In 2019, 80 Pages.

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