Friday, July 07, 2006

I lived for Christ and I'll die for Christ (Restituta Kafka)

One of the first steps the Nazis took when they annexed Austria was to close over 1400 establishments that were under religious control. More than 200 convents were suppressed, all Catholic societies and youth organizations were disbanded, and numerous charitable institutions were seized. Sister Restituta Kafka, a nursing nun, was allowed to continue her work, but her hospital was put under the control of personnel loyal to the new government.
Sr. Restituta, a nun as well as an anaesthetist, had always carefully attended to the spiritual needs of her patients. Although religious acts were now forbidden in the hospital wards, she continued to pray, at least privately, with the sick, and see that they secretly received the last rites. The surgeon with whom she worked in the operating room was a fanatical Nazi, but he depended so much on her that at first he kept quiet about her forbidden religious interventions.
Sr Restituta made her total rejection of Nazism quite clear. She called Hitler “a madman” and said of herself, “A Viennese cannot keep her mouth shut.”
Not long afterward, however, when a new hospital wing was opened, Sister Kafka made bold to hang crucifixes in the rooms. She was also discovered making a copy of an anti-Fascist song. The surgeon now decided it was his patriotic duty to report her to the Gestapo. As a result, on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 1942, a group of SS storm troopers came to the hospital and arrested her. She refused to replace the crucifixes with pictures of Hitler, saying the Jesus is her only “Fuhrer.”
Sister Restituta was imprisoned for a year, but imprisonment did not change her character or her firmness. Although the food allowed her was meager, she gave most of it to others. Thus she saved the life of a pregnant mother and her baby. She remained faithful in prison. One of the first steps the Nazis took when they annexed Austria was to close over 1400 establishments that were under religious control. More than 200 convents were suppressed, all Catholic societies and youth organizations were disbanded, and numerous charitable institutions were seized. Sister Restituta Kafka, a nursing nun, was allowed to continue her work, but her hospital was put under the control of personnel loyal to the new government.
Sr. Restituta, a nun as well as an anaesthetist, had always carefully attended to the spiritual needs of her patients. Although religious acts were now forbidden in the hospital wards, she continued to pray, at least privately, with the sick, and see that they secretly received the last rites. The surgeon with whom she worked in the operating room was a fanatical Nazi, but he depended so much on her that at first he kept quiet about her forbidden religious interventions.
Sr Restituta made her total rejection of Nazism quite clear. She called Hitler “a madman” and said of herself, “A Viennese cannot keep her mouth shut.”
Not long afterward, however, when a new hospital wing was opened, Sister Kafka made bold to hang crucifixes in the rooms. She was also discovered making a copy of an anti-Fascist song. The surgeon now decided it was his patriotic duty to report her to the Gestapo. As a result, on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 1942, a group of SS storm troopers came to the hospital and arrested her. She refused to replace the crucifixes with pictures of Hitler, saying the Jesus is her only “Fuhrer.”
Sister Restituta was imprisoned for a year, but imprisonment did not change her character or her firmness. Although the food allowed her was meager, she gave most of it to others. Thus she saved the life of a pregnant mother and her baby. She remained faithful in prison. She said, “I lived for Christ, and I’ll die for Christ.”
After a year of trying to break this unbreakable woman, Martin Bormann, Hitler's own secretary, decided that it was necessary not only to punish Sister Kafka, but to make an example of her and show others that disobedience would not be tolerated. On October 28, 1942 she was sentenced to death by guillotine for “aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason.” On hearing her death sentence, One of the first steps the Nazis took when they annexed Austria was to close over 1400 establishments that were under religious control. More than 200 convents were suppressed, all Catholic societies and youth organizations were disbanded, and numerous charitable institutions were seized. Sister Restituta Kafka, a nursing nun, was allowed to continue her work, but her hospital was put under the control of personnel loyal to the new government.
Sr. Restituta, a nun as well as an anaesthetist, had always carefully attended to the spiritual needs of her patients. Although religious acts were now forbidden in the hospital wards, she continued to pray, at least privately, with the sick, and see that they secretly received the last rites. The surgeon with whom she worked in the operating room was a fanatical Nazi, but he depended so much on her that at first he kept quiet about her forbidden religious interventions.
Sr Restituta made her total rejection of Nazism quite clear. She called Hitler “a madman” and said of herself, “A Viennese cannot keep her mouth shut.”
Not long afterward, however, when a new hospital wing was opened, Sister Kafka made bold to hang crucifixes in the rooms. She was also discovered making a copy of an anti-Fascist song. The surgeon now decided it was his patriotic duty to report her to the Gestapo. As a result, on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 1942, a group of SS storm troopers came to the hospital and arrested her. She refused to replace the crucifixes with pictures of Hitler, saying the Jesus is her only “Fuhrer.”
Sister Restituta was imprisoned for a year, but imprisonment did not change her character or her firmness. Although the food allowed her was meager, she gave most of it to others. Thus she saved the life of a pregnant mother and her baby. She remained faithful in prison.
After a year of trying to break this unbreakable woman, Martin Bormann, Hitler's own secretary, decided that it was necessary not only to punish Sister Kafka, but to make an example of her and show others that disobedience would not be tolerated. On October 28, 1942 she was sentenced to death by guillotine for “aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason.” On hearing her death sentence, she said, "I lived for Christ, and I'll die for Christ."
She was later offered her freedom if she would leave her religious congregation, but she refused. When asked to commute her sentence, Martin Bormann expressly rejected the request, saying, “I think the execution of the death penalty is necessary for effective intimidation.”
A chaplain was allowed to attend Sister Kafka to the door of the chamber of execution but no farther. He reported hearing the swish and thud of the sharp steel down its tracks. She was the only nun to be sent to the guillotine by the Nazis in the German territories.

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