Mary Frances Coady

February 2, 1945

CCF09222014_00004Alfred Delp was taken to the execution chamber of Plotzensee Prison and hanged about 3 o-clock in the afternoon of February 2, 1945.  Hitler had ordered that the ashes of those executed for resistance be scattered over sewage.  This is probably what happened to Delp’s earthly remains.

The following day, Roland Freisler, the presiding judge of the People’s Court, was killed in a bomb attack.

The execution chamber in Berlin is now a memorial.


January 31, 1945

On January 31, 1945, Alfred Delp was driven to Plotzensee Prison where his street clothes were exchanged for the prisoner’s striped clothing.  He took nothing with him from his Tegel cell except his rosary.  At Plotzensee he asked the chaplain for a copy of The Imitation of Christ.


January 28, 1945

To Franz von Tattenbach SJ

Dear Tatt,

This week has been the hardest of all these many weeks….I’m taking his hard week as an obligation to believe, pray and hope even more.  CCF09222014_00004It was like that on January 11, and now on Tuesday again.  Perhaps this is the bridge that’s placed over the marshland in order to provide a good passage.  Perhaps it’s also simply the link to the fruitfulness of your enterprises….

God protect you.  And thanks for all your loyalty and love.

Bullus [a nickname from Delp’s teaching days]


January 26, 1945

To Marianne Hapig and Marianne Pünder

Up to now there’s one obvious purpose.

Help with further prayers.

In Georg’s last letter there’s a possible way to get a go-between with Munich.  Otherwise Alfred Sebastian’s father can help.

 

To Franz von Tattenbach SJ

 

Dear Tatt,

This week has been the hardest of all these many weeks….I’m taking this tough week as an obligation to believe, pray, and hope even more.  It was like that on January 11, and now on Tuesday again.  Perhaps this is the bridge that’s placed over marshland in order to provide a good passage.  Also, perhaps it’s simply the link to the fruitfulness of your enterprises….

God protect you.  And thanks for all your loyalty and love.

Bullus


January 24, 1945

To Marianne Hapig and Marianne Pünder

Good people,

CCF09222014_00003

Helmuth von Moltke

CCF09202014_00000 Yesterday and today have been really bad days.  It would have been easier to go to Plötzensee than to suddenly be forced to endure the fate of isolation.  This vacation from the gallows is certainly not meant as a good deed, but perhaps this is the connecting piece to the miracle that is built from an evil intention and used for a good end.  Please help me by praying hard in the days ahead.  Now that Helmuth and the others have gone, much of my help has gone too.  I’m now the only one left who is still in irons.  Is there some background reason for this suddenness and this exception?

….With regard to communication etc. with Munich etc., it’s now also becoming more difficult. Because we have other needs as well:  Miss Würflein can send out packages from the medical supply factory where she works, to the hospital.  Please if possible, let them know this in Munich.  Sometimes one would like to make world history run faster.  One knows where it’s going.  Why not a couple of weeks ahead of time?  Pray hard also for my confreres during these days…. Heartfelt thanks, and God’s blessing and protection.

Max


January 23, 1945

 

On January 23 Delp learned that Moltke and Sperr had been taken to Plὂtzensee and hanged.

To Marianne Hapig and Marianne Pünder

 

Thanks for everything.

God will find a solution.  Pray.

Tell Tattenbach that Strassenberger is a classmate of Heinrich [Himmler] and his brother.  I’m praying for Pünder.  God is good.  Thanks.

Dp


January 22, 1945

To Marianne Hapig/Marianne Pünder

 

Good people,

Heartfelt thanks for your trouble and worry on my behalf.  I’m now sitting at the pinnacle of absolute abandonment and waiting on God.  At last, all the cards have been taken out of my hands.  Before the trial, we still thought that we could achieve something ourselves.  Now I’m suspended within the full freedom of God.  He can still work a miracle.  A faltering confidence shouldn’t be the cause of failure.

CCF09202014_00000I had already given up hope of seeing Tattenbach soon because of the new travel restrictions, but then there he was.  He is loyalty personified, and he looked so tired.  This new disaster which he told me about [the arrest of Augustin Rösch, the Jesuit provincial superior, on January 11] also has a meaning.  Perhaps it’s the only one of all the “enterprises” that will gain us the necessary time.  I’m going to send the letter to Heinrich now, since Tattenbach told me I should.  See—these are the “postponements” which, as Urbi said, have their own meaning.  If we had been tried on December 9th with this result… .  And perhaps we have to achieve the miracle exactly the same way.  I have nothing against it, although there must be more pleasant waiting places than the mid-point in the highest peak of the gallows-mountain.  I no longer think that a pardon is likely in view of the new situation, although the acquittal on the July 20 charge is an advantage and a point of discussion (it’s too bad that N. Gross admitted not only his extensive knowledge of July 20, but also his co-operation with Goerdeler and Kaiser.)

Perhaps the effort of these appeals will achieve the time necessary for the sacrifice to mature or the miracle to happen.  The Pentecost sequence, about which some pages are attached, was Urbi’s favorite prayer.  It’s really a prayer that one can breathe in deeply.  If possible, take care of things in Munich very soon.  Heartfelt good wishes and God’s blessing.   The concentration camp is the result of all acquittals.  It’s better to spend a few years in prison, which last just as long.  Let’s continue praying together.  God’s good protection and blessing.

Your grateful Max

Please, if possible, a shoe lace.  Has Tattenbach provided any more details about Rösch’s situation?  An answer, please, since we will surely be confronted about it soon. CCF09222014_00004

To Franz von Tattenbach SJ

 

Dear Tatt,

Thanks for everything….   How could this have happened with Rösch?  You should have taken constant surveillance into account.  Unfortunately, that makes everything much more difficult for everyone concerned.  And so much more hopeless, from a logical perspective.  But it also has its purpose.  There’s one level—that is, it’s not really a level, but rather a space […] where nothing can be disturbed any more.  (However, it seems that no one is coming, so I can actually attach the letter.) […]

 

Franz von Tattenbach

Franz von Tattenbach

In the letter to Heinrich, I stated the following as reasons which, upon inner reflection, I felt I was allowed to ask for clemency:  no connection with July 20; no violent intentions toward the Third Reich; just purely auxiliary intentions in the event that…; the war casualties among members of my family.  Additionally, I tried to place these discussions within the general context of my work, also the positive contribution to the RSHA: in observing me, one could find nothing to object to, except for the Moltke connection.  Was there any success in letting Rösch know about the strategy we’ve been following up to now?  That would certainly be important to know in the event of a confrontation.  May God protect you.  Good wishes and many thanks.

Bullus

Tatt, for half the night your weary face was before me.  Am I worth so much sweat?  Is anyone worth it?   […]  Greetings to Fix, Knigge, Max and all, every one.  How is Joseph von Blumenstrasse?  Many thanks to everyone.  And […] have them continue to pray hard.  Against tiredness and fear, and for the final freedom, and also for a miracle.

I’ve written the reflections on the Pentecost sequence, one of the most beautiful prayers—it was our favorite prayer in Bogenhausen—for you and Luise.  And for myself.  In here, the sequence is also the prayer for breathing again.  May God protect you and reward you.

By the way: the whole proceeding was recorded.  You’ll have to look for it sometime–if God calls me home.  Otherwise I’ll do it myself.  In pronouncing judgement, Freisler announces beautifully and in a clear voice the charges on which I’ve been convicted: the spreading of Catholic social teaching, especially the teaching on iustitia socialis.  Another sign of sacrifice and mission.


January 19, 1945

As he sat waiting in his cell, Delp’s creative energies were again released and he wrote meditations on the Lord’s Prayer which, as he told Luise, was written almost entirely in handcuffs, and “Come Holy Spirit”, which is the Sequence for Pentecost Sunday.

 

To Marianne Hapig/Marianne Pünder

Good people,

I’m still writing letters and still giving you trouble and worry.  This wasn’t expected just a week ago, because I should have been hanged an hour or so after the verdict.  For awhile on Thursday we didn’t know where we were going to be driven.  CCF09222014_00011It’s all so strange.  We are the first who weren’t taken to Prince-Albert-Strasse for the trial, although that was planned.  Our charges were addressed there.  Then we returned here again and are once again sitting and waiting.  Is the sacrifice I’m willingly offering enough for God, or does he want to test my trust right up to the breaking point?  What the atmosphere of January 11 means, I don’t know.  To be ready for death is the least that one can expect from us, although I don’t think anyone has a particular yearning for it.  The good head guard is at home sick.  Do you think you might bring something to comfort him?

As requested and ordered, I have written and sent off the appeal to the supreme court prosecutor.  I’ve also written to Heinrich Himmler.  Please advise me on whether I should send it.  It also should go to the supreme court.  It could also be an advantage in that they might wait here until a decision comes from there, and thus we get time on our side.  (The only value of these appeals is to gain time; they’re not going to pardon me.)  The trial was clearly anti-Church and anti-Christian.  But perhaps this is allowing for time or even the grace of a greater humility that still exists where one doesn’t expect it.

Alfred Delp before the People's Court, January 9, 1945

Alfred Delp before the People’s Court, January 9, 1945

It can have the disadvantage that the atmosphere at Himmler’s end could be corrupted by that other place. Please give me your opinion very soon.  All the best and thanks a lot.  Thursday was a good day in spite of everything.  The last thing I did here was Mass.  Since then I’ve been filled with a great freedom.  Let things happen as they may.  The world changed on that day.  Warmly and gratefully,

Max

The good head guard is at home sick.  Don’t you have something to comfort him?  Some paper, please.  I’d still like to finish the litany.


January 16, 1945

To Luise Oestreicher

Dear Luise,

I’m still alive and still writing letters.  I feel your help a lot, and I still don’t know if this is the end or if God wants only to test my confidence to the limit.  I’m trying hard to be equal to both.  Greta was here awhile ago.  She is brave, but I made it a short visit.  Keep on giving help to my family. […] This week, during which I’ve been preparing for the end, the world has CCF09222014_00004completely changed.  Even if I should come back, January 11 has totally changed everything.

CCF11202014_00003

Delp’s sister, Greta Kern

I said my last Mass toward noon shortly before my departure.  It was clear from the beginning that Moltke and I were condemned.  Past custom had it that executions were to take place about one hour after the judgement.  So we were expecting it and were told only on departure that we were returning here.  And now here we sit and wait on the pinnacle.

I’m waiting and relying on the prayer and help of my friends, you above all.  You remain among what is still valuable after January 11.  Thank you for everything.  The “Our Father” was written in handcuffs (mostly) and is even more illegible than usual.  The trial’s outcome was so clear that it provided a life-and-death motif. […]  May God protect you.  […]  Best regards, and thank you.  Help with praying, okay?                                                                                         Georg


January 15, 1945

To Marianne Häpig and Marianne Pünder

 

Good people, a heartfelt Sunday greeting!

In the normal course of events, I should have been greeting you from the Other Side now.  Everything is happening in such a strange way.  Everything we do to help matters along ends in disaster.  When we expect disaster and are sure it will happen, suddenly it doesn’t.  I believe that we are the first who did not go to the Prinz-Albert-Strasse for the trial, but stayed here.  And we are apparently the first not to be taken for execution on the same day as the sentencing.  CCF09202014_00000This custom now seems to have been generally abandoned, because my other cell neighbor who was condemned the next day, returned as well, even though no appeal had been made.

I no longer quite trust my own decision.  Whenever you two have made a suggestion to me, it has proved better than my own opinion.  I have therefore written an appeal according to your suggestion and had it delivered yesterday.  I certainly took a lot of care with it, but whether anyone can or will read it, I don’t know.

I think that only someone with a Party connection can really do anything.  It’s good that I’ve been acquitted on the July 20 conspiracy charge.  Our own involvement was called “run-of-the-mill high treason”.  I’m attaching a brief sketch of the Moltke discussions, which matters now hinge on, so that someone on the outside knows about it.  But caution.

How long I’m going to be sitting here and waiting for the drive to Plötzensee, I don’t know.  Will it be days or weeks?  Two of the July 20 conspirators have been sitting here for 14 weeks since their trial.  I do know that the current phase is part of my life.  Whether Plötzensee is part of it, I don’t know.  In the natural course of things, I see no other way.  CCF09222014_00004But an inner impulse tells me to keep on hoping and praying.  That changes nothing in regard to freedom and readiness.  Despite the sadness which sometimes comes over me, what predominates is a certain knowledge of decision and freedom.

Naturally, I see no other way.  They have no mercy toward a Jesuit.  If Moltke is acquitted, perhaps they’ll let me go too.  Is someone taking care of the appeal?

Please pass on my recent letters.  My friends are now in the know.  Besides, I could use their prayers even now, before I go to the other side.

I’m trying very hard to fall into the earth as a good and fertile seed

….The Mass will remain as long as I remain. Give greetings to everyone I know.  My gratitude to you, and God’s powerful protection.  By the way, I’m not forgetting the two Mariannes…. Actually, during these days I’m experiencing God’s goodness to a great extent.

Your devoted Max

  1. S. Please be careful with the pages, After the Verdict! If still possible:  please, a shoelace; the promised one hasn’t yet come.   I don’t know whether I’ll still need it, but if I do, I’d be grateful.

Also, I could do with a few envelopes under the same conditions as before.

And now, please don’t be sad.  I’m trying very hard to fall into the earth as a good and fertile seed….


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