The good are few: the baddies are many. Hitler and his Nazis were baddies. Their names are engraved in Mankind’s memory: Goering, Goebbels, Mengele, Stangl, Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann – do I need to continue? Then there were the good Germans. Germans, who helped those the Nazis wanted to kill, to escape. One good German was […]
The good are few: the baddies are many.
Hitler and his Nazis were baddies.
Their names are engraved in Mankind’s memory: Goering, Goebbels, Mengele, Stangl, Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann – do I need to continue?
Then there were the good Germans. Germans, who helped those the Nazis wanted to kill, to escape.
One good German was Father Franz Stock.
Father stock was rector to the German community of Paris at the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, but was recalled to Germany, mobilized with the rank of Major, and sent back to Paris on the fall of France in June 1940 to be priest to the Wehrmacht which was occupying France which included the capital. In 1941, he was appointed Chaplain to the three Paris prisons of Fresnes, La Santé and Cherche-Midi, as well as of the German execution site of Mont Valérien outside Paris. (Once Germany had occupied France, German soldiers had taken over control of the prisons where they imprisoned and tortured all those who opposed them.)
Father Stock immediately sympathized with the prisoners, carrying messages to them from their families, and messages from them to their grief-stricken families. And he comforted those whom his compatriots had tortured, and those his compatriots were about to execute. He sat with the condemned, prayed with and for them, and administered the Last Rights, and walked with them to the scaffold or the shooting range, and often during those walks of death, whispered last messages to them from their loved ones, and listened to their last messages which he then, at the risk of being executed himself, went to pass on to the families.
You can read here what I had written about Father Stock. I do recommend that you read it.
On the Liberation of Paris, Father Stock in a Wehrmacht uniform, was arrested by the Americans and imprisoned in a prisoner of war camp, when he, yet again, comforted the prisoners, in that case his compatriots. He made no distinction when it came to suffering; suffering was suffering.
Some of those in the POW camp with him were German theology students and, asked by France’s Catholic Church to set up a seminary, he did so in the POW camp of Le Coudry outside the town of Chartres. The seminary would become known as the séminaire des barbelées – the barbed wire seminary. He remained as its head until its closure in 1947.
Father Stock died on February 24, 1948, in a Paris hospital from a pulmonary embolism. Born in 1904, he was just 44 years old.
In 2009, German Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker opened a procedure for the Beatification of Father Franz Stock. The file the Archbishop had handed over to the Congregation for Beatification and Sanctification consisted of 16,800 pages and the statements of 200 witnesses, two-thirds of whom had received consolation from Father Stock while they were prisoners of the Germans during World War Two.
Today, 8 years later, the Vatican is still studying Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker’s request. I wonder what is keeping them so long to come to a decision because if there was a Saint on our earth, it was Father France Stock.
But, fortunately, there are those here in France who still remember and honour Father Franz Stock.
Therefore, today – Saturday, 4 March, 2017, a mass will be said in Chartres Cathedral in commemoration of the 69th anniversary of Father Franz Stock’s death.
It is there in the cathedral where the earthly remains of this godly man rests.