A light in the shadow of death


Religion in the concentration camp? It was forbidden and it seems impossible. But nevertheless, it was also lived here, Faith.

Secret God Ddienste

“I’ve held every Sunday from the Bible and hymns in worship. However, only a small group of fourteen women. This happened in our free hour, when we went up to the camp road on and off.“

This reminder of the Protestant theologian Katharina Staritz las Sabine Arend of the ravensbrück memorial site, at the end of June the participants of a conference on the topic of Religion in national socialist concentration camps. At the storage street, they learned how Katharina Staritz enjoyed her suffering in Ravensbrück spiritually strengthened.

“Then we had to go to the fifth in a series,” she wrote later. “But it was not to be known, what we talked about. I went in the middle of three rows of five. This worship could not be. And I took as a Text is always a word that seemed to be written for our situation.“


Maria in the toothpaste tube

Such activities were strictly prohibited. Also religious objects were not to be discovered. Rarely, they were smuggled in. Thus, it was possible Catherine cat Maier, to bring a Marian medallion in a tube of toothpaste into the camp. Such a Devotional and Prayer support from the women in prison made. The ravensbrück memorial of it preserved, some of the products. “We have, for example,” explains Sabine Arend, “prayer chains from gekautem bread, which were to be strung on a thread. We have a rosary made in the agriculture command of the collected berries, a wool, a textile made and a from a rope, which was used to carry handles of the ammo boxes to restore.“

To be always in danger of being discovered, made the women in addition to rosaries, devotional paintings and crucifixes. Also be careful, they met in small groups for the reception of Sacraments, Prayer, and religious conversation. Extreme caution was Baptized. A priest there was in the concentration camp of ravensbrück. The Catholic women of the right to emergency baptism, made use. Also Jehovah’s witnesses baptized secretly. For the usual full-body baptism, they used a water barrel in the Laundry of the camp.

Resistance from religious conviction

Your religious Conviction and commanded them open resistance. Falk Bersch, who has been researching her fate, told from the 19. December 1939: 50 witnesses of Jehovah have been in the sewing room for the soldiers at the Front as a gift of love a Christmas bag to sew. The were apparently bag Cartridges. You said: We don’t do this, because we don’t want to support the war. As a result, the warehouse commander, line up behind the prison building and the other witnesses of Jehovah brought in. And I said, who would refuse to sew the bags, to step to the left. And three of the women are actually to the left kicked.“

On several occasions the camp commander tried to break up the stuff inside, told them to stuff the socks of soldiers, or the pagan solstice celebration to prepare for. Their strict anti-war stance, and your obedience to God, you sent your resistant attitude to maintain. Though not quite as strong as in December 1939.

For the Catholic women especially Mary, was a Holding in the misery of Camp life, such as Sabine Arend says, “because Mary lost her son and grieved. The identification could be for women in the camp, who had lost a child or their children had to stay at home back to the and they were Worried about.“

Church bells from afar

There are many sources that testify to the religious life in the Camps are not. Some lost their Religion, others have found them, some kept them.

Catherine cat Maier later recalled the Christmas of 1943. Worn down from working in a swamp in jingling Frost, dragged with the other prisoners in the evening fever in your barracks “From Prince of the mountain above the lake, we heard over quiet, the Church bells. None of us had a match to light a candle. But we had time for inner Reflection. Somehow, in the days around Christmas, we met with a few ethos home enjoyed a short meeting. Among us Christian prisoners were able to some by heart the lyrics of the birth of Christ. Head-to-head put together, whispered to us quietly the Text. A light shone in the darkness here in the shadow of death.“