A couple years ago in my ADVENTCAzTs I used a lot of material from Advent of the Heart, from talks and sermons of Fr. Afred Delp, SJ, killed by the Nazis. Delp had participated in plots to kill Hitler.
Right now I am reader Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler. It is engrossing.
I didn’t realize just how involved Delp had been.
Here is a small extract about Delp.
ON 2 FEBRUARY GESTAPO GUARDS LED DELP INTO THE INTERROGATION room at Plötzensee. Beneath his orange-and-gray striped pajamas, stamped with the number 1442, he seemed just a rack of bones. The prison had scheduled his death for noon. SS officer Karl Neuhaus would supervise the Jesuit’s final hours. A Plötzensee colleague recalled Neuhaus, a former Protestant theologian, as “a gaunt man with a face like a bird of prey.” It fell to Neuhaus to interrogate Catholic clergymen suspected of conspiring to kill Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944. “I wanted to know what Father Delp had to say about the attempted assassination,” Neuhaus said later, “and how he reconciled this violence with his convictions as a Catholic priest and Jesuit Father. I knew that he had some contacts with Stauffenberg. A witness had incriminated Father Delp. All of that was known and was already in the files when I interrogated him.” Yet Neuhaus did not know— and his SS superiors had ordered him to learn— just how closely Delp and his Catholic confederates had conspired with the pope. Having already grilled Father Rösch about his Vatican links, Neuhaus now subjected Delp to the same line of inquiry. He placed Delp’s fingers in a clamp lined with spikes. While Neuhaus shouted questions, his assistant, SS Hauptsturmführer Rolf Günther, turned a screw, driving the spikes into Delp’s fingertips. When that procedure produced no answers, Günther began to beat Delp from behind with an oak club larded with nail heads. With each blow, Delp fell forward on his face, but he refused to speak. Günther then enclosed Delp’s legs in tubes lined with steel needles and slowly drew the tubes tighter, so that the spikes gradually pierced the flesh. At the same time, to muffle the screams, he pushed the priest’s head into a metal hood and covered it with a blanket. When the screams penetrated even the hood, Günther put on a phonograph record of children’s songs and turned up the volume as high as it would go. Five hours later, when Father Delp had still not implicated the pope, Neuhaus helped him across the courtyard to the death hut. Sunlight slashed through two arched windows. Six meat hooks hung from a ceiling girder. Atop a tripod sat a 16-mm sound camera, crowned with lamps and loaded with color film. On a table stood a bottle of cognac, two glasses, and a coil of piano wire. The executioner and his assistant fortified themselves with cognac. The assistant, Johan Reichart, worked the wire into a noose. The executioner, Hans Hoffmann, looped it around Delp’s neck and drew it tight. They lifted the priest onto a hook and let him fall. The wire noose did not break his neck, but merely sliced into his windpipe. They left him there, twitching and twisting, for twenty-five minutes. Later, scrawled on a prison laundry form, an orderly found Father Delp’s last known words: “Thank you.”