Friday, October 9, 2009
Franz Jägerstätter (May 20, 1907 — August 9, 1943; born as Franz Huber) was an Austrian conscientious objector during World War II and has been declared Blessed by the Roman Catholic Church. As in most countries at the time, refusal to serve mandatory military service in war time was a criminal offense in Germany, and Jägerstätter was sentenced to death and executed.
Franz Jägerstätter (in English also spelt Franz Jaegerstaetter) was born in Sankt Radegund, Austria, a small village near Salzburg and Braunau am Inn. He was the illegitimate child of Rosalia Huber and Franz Bachmeier. The child was first brought up 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, Franz was adopted by her husband, Heinrich Jägerstätter.
In his youth, Franz had gained a reputation for being a wild fellow, but, in general, his daily life was like that of most Austrian peasants. In 1933, he fathered an out of wedlock daughter, Hildegard Auer.
In 1936, he married Franziska Schwaninger, a girl from a nearby village, and they went to Rome on their honeymoon. A Catholic by birth, he experienced a religious awakening - apparently about the time of his marriage – and later served as sexton of his parish church.
When German troops moved into Austria in 1938, Jägerstätter was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss. Although he was not involved with any political organization, and did undergo one brief period of military training, he remained openly anti-Nazi, and publicly declared he would not fight in the war.