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Franz Jägerstätter

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Title: Franz Jägerstätter  
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Subject: Austrian beatified people, Stolpersteine, Executed Widerstand members, Stolpersteine in the district of Braunau am Inn, Franciscan beatified people
Collection: 1907 Births, 1943 Deaths, Austrian Beatified People, Austrian Christian Pacifists, Austrian Conscientious Objectors, Austrian People Executed by Decapitation, Austrian People Executed by Nazi Germany, Austrian Resistance Members, Beatifications by Pope Benedict Xvi, Catholic Saints and Blesseds of the Nazi Era, Executed Widerstand Members, Franciscan Beatified People, Franciscan Martyrs, People Condemned by Nazi Courts, People Executed by Guillotine by Nazi Germany, People from Braunau Am Inn District, Stolpersteine, Third Order of Saint Francis
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Franz Jägerstätter

Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, O.F.S.
Franz Jaegerstaetter
Born (1907-05-20)20 May 1907
Sankt Radegund, Upper Austria,
Died 9 August 1943(1943-08-09) (aged 36)
Brandenburg-Görden Prison
Nazi Germany
Honored in Secular Franciscan Order
Beatified 26 October 2007, Linz, Austria by Pope Benedict XVI
Feast May 21
Patronage Conscientious objectors

Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, O.F.S., (in English also spelt Jaegerstaetter) (20 May 1907 - 9 August 1943) (born as Franz Huber) was an Austrian conscientious objector during World War II. Jägerstätter was sentenced to death and executed. He was later declared a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church.


Jägerstätter farmstead in St Radegund

Jägerstätter was born in Sankt Radegund, Upper Austria, a small village between Salzburg and Braunau am Inn. He was the illegitimate child of Rosalia Huber, a chambermaid, and Franz Bachmeier, a farmer.[1] He was first cared for 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 in 1917, Franz was adopted by her husband, Heinrich Jägerstätter.

In his youth, Franz gained a reputation for being a wild fellow, but, in general, his daily life was like that of most Austrian peasants. He worked as a farmhand and also as a miner in Eisenerz, until in 1933 he inherited the farmstead of his foster father. In that same year, he fathered an out-of-wedlock daughter, Hildegard Auer.[2] On Maundy Thursday of 1936, he married Franziska Schwaninger (1913–2013), a deeply religious woman. After the ceremony, the bridal couple proceeded on a pilgrimage to Rome. The marriage produced three daughters.

When Nazi. He joined the Third Order of Saint Francis in 1940 and worked as a sacristan at the local parish church, being deferred from military service several times. In 1940, aged 33, he had been conscripted into the German army and completed basic training. Returning home in 1941 under an exemption as a farmer, he began to examine the morality of the war and discussed this with his bishop. He emerged from that conversation saddened that the bishop seemed afraid to confront the issues.[3][4]

Arrest and death

Plaque to Franz Jägerstätter at the former Reichskriegsgericht in Berlin

After many delays, Jägerstätter was finally called to active duty on 23 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 upon entering into the Wehrmacht on March 1 declared his conscientious objection. His offer to serve as a paramedic was ignored.[5] A priest from his village visited him in jail and tried to talk him into serving, but did not succeed. He was immediately imprisoned, first at Linz, then at Berlin-Tegel.

Accused of Wehrkraftzersetzung (undermining of military morale), after a military trial at the Reichskriegsgericht he was sentenced to death on 6 July and subsequently executed by guillotine at Brandenburg-Görden Prison on 9 August 1943, aged 36. In 1946, his ashes were buried at the Sankt Radegund cemetery.

icon depicting Franz Jägerstätter

Legacy and beatification

Jägerstätter was criticized by his countrymen, especially Catholics who had served in the military, for failing in his duty as a husband and father. The municipality of Sankt Radegund at first refused to put his name on the local war memorial and a pension for his widow was not approved until 1950.

Jägerstätter's fate was not well known until 1964, when US sociologist Gordon Zahn published his biography, In Solitary Witness. A 1971 film treatment of his life by director Axel Corti starred Kurt Weinzierl. His case was a topic of the annual Braunauer Zeitgeschichte-Tage conference in 1995. The death sentence was nullified by the Landgericht Berlin on 7 May 1997. A Stolperstein for Jägerstätter in Sankt Radegund was laid in 2006.[6]

In June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic exhortation declaring Jägerstätter a martyr. On 26 October 2007, he was beatified in a ceremony held by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins at the New Cathedral in Linz.[7] His feast day is the day of his christening, 21 May.


  • Andreas Maislinger, Franz Jägerstätter. In: Conquering the Past. Austrian Nazism Yesterday & Today. Edited by Fred Parkinson. Wayne State University Press, Detroit 1989.
  • Andreas Maislinger, Franz Jägerstätter and Leopold Engleitner. In: Bernhard Rammerstorfer, Unbroken Will. The Extraordinary Courage of an Ordinary Man. The Story of Leopold Engleitner. Grammaton Press. New Orleans 2004. ISBN 0-9679366-4-0
  • Jägerstätter, Franz (2009). Putz, Erna, ed. Franz Jägerstätter: Letters and Writings from Prison (in English and translated from German). translator:Robert Anthony Krieg.  


  1. ^ The Independent , Austrian farmer executed for defying Nazis on path to sainthood, 27 October 2007
  2. ^ Biography of Jägerstätter (in German)
  3. ^ The Independent, 27 October 2007 austrian farmer executed for defying nazis on path to sainthood
  4. ^ "Franz Jägerstätter 1907 – 1943 - Martyr"
  5. ^ "Bl. Franz Jägerstätter (1907-1943)", Vatican News Service
  6. ^ "Stolperstein erinnert an Wehrdienstverweigerer Franz Jägerstätter" (in Deutsch). Evangelischer Presseverband für Bayern. 2006-08-07. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  7. ^ "Franz Jägerstätter- Against the Stream" (PDF).  

External links

  • Born between Salzburg and Braunau am Inn
  • Franz Jägerstätter and Leopold Engleitner
  • Bl. Franz Jägerstätter (1907-1943) Biography by the Holy See
  • Site about Jägerstätter - in German, with some English translations
  • Franz Jägerstätter: a solitary witness
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