Nazi Pope

Very interesting article in The Times about Ratzinger and his time in the Hitler Youth.

“Resistance was truly impossible,” Georg Ratzinger said. … Some locals in Traunstein, like Elizabeth Lohner, 84, whose brother-in-law was sent to Dachau as a conscientious objector, dismiss such suggestions. “It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others,” she said. “The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice.” In 1937 another family a few hundred yards away in Traunstein hid Hans Braxenthaler, a local resistance fighter. SS troops repeatedly searched homes in the area looking for the fugitive and his fellow conspirators.

You can say we should forgive him the choices he made as a young man. But don’t tell me he didn’t have a choice. He did, and he chose wrong.

5 thoughts on “Nazi Pope”

  1. I’m certainly no fan of the catholic church, especially Cardinal Ratzinger and God only knows what he’ll get up to as Pope Benedict.

    I’m really not prepared to judge him for his actions until 1944/5 though. As far as his actions as cardinal go, I can completely understand the immediate reaction of my German mitbewohner upon hearing the news – “bin sowieso schon ausgtreten”. I’m just not prepared to condemn him on his actions as a 14 year old. What he’s done in the past 40 years, yeah I disgree with, but what he did as a young teenager – and he was gezwungen – I don’t find the correct way to condemn him. If I have a problem with his beliefs (and I do) I’m not going to go that far back to do it…. I’d rather challenge what he chose to do as a free man.

  2. Actually he did not have a choice to join the Hitler Youth when he was 16. It was compulsory service of which he later deserted and was captured by US troops and held for the duration of the war as a POW by the US.

    Perhaps you think life in Nazi Germany was all peaches and cream and all you had to do was simply say “no” and you would be excused from service with no problems from the Nazi’s? Maybe you need to go back and read more on how the Nazi’s treated people, especially those refusing service to the Fuhrer?

  3. Well that all depends what you mean by choice. I am not so naiive as to believe that life would not have been very unpleasant – perhaps short – for someone who refused to join the Hitler Youth. But other people did refuse and face the consequences. It is in the nature of moral decisions that doing the right thing sometimes has personal consequences that one would rather avoid.

    I am not saying that I would expect everybody to make this moral choice and face the consequences. But as the quotation in my post shows, some people did in fact resist. Ratzinger did not. He made a choice, and it was the wrong choice.

  4. what proportion of comparable 14 years in Germany resisted? Was it 10%, 1%, 0.1% or 0.01%. What were the usual consequences for those who did? Rather than glibly say he made the wrong choice, one would like an appropriate context to assess the quandary he faced.

  5. As I understand it, Catholics do not believe that right or wrong is a matter of popular opinion and majority rule. Why is it relevant how many other people made a similar or different choice?

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