I love my country but there is a higher authority, God!”

Franz Jaggerstatter was born in Austria and was brought up a Catholic. He was an ordinary, unremarkable young man; however, at some stage he suddenly matured. He became very responsible and began to take religion seriously.

By this time, the Second World War was raging. At thirty-six he was called up to serve Hitler’s army. He refused to join up. “I cannot join because I believe that this war is not a just war. Therefore, it would be wrong for me to join up. It would be against my conscience.” He said.

“But where’s your loyalty to your people, to your country, to your flag?” his friends protested. “ Franz replied, “I love my people and I love my country. But there’s a higher law–God’s law. And God’s law tells me that this war is wrong.”

It wasn’t that he wanted to die. He had a lot to live for — his family and friends. He was arrested and put into prison. Then further efforts were made to get him to change his mind. Even his wife begged him to reconsider his decision, to no avail. Franz was beheaded on August 9, 1943.

He felt he was obeying the words of Christ: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

  • Submitted by Fr. Joseph Dovari