Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Franz Reinisch (February 1, 1903 to 21 August 1943)

We, the comrades of Unit 1012, will remember Franz Reinisch, as one of the Catholic Resistance to Nazism and also a Christian Martyr.

Pater Franz Reinisch SAC
Franz Reinisch SAC (February 1, 1903 - August 21, 1942) was a member of the Schoenstatt Movement. He was a Catholic priest and refused to take the oath of allegiance to Hitler, for which he was executed.


Early life

Franz Reinisch was born on February 1, 1903 in Feldkirch, Austria, and baptized the next day. His parents dedicated the baptism to the Blessed Mother. Reinisch grew up with two brothers and two sisters. His father, Councilor Dr. Franz Reinisch, a finance official, moved often while Reinisch was a child. The family of Feldkirch moved to Bolzano, Bruneck and finally to Innsbruck. During his time in Bolzano, Reinisch survived a serious illness.

From the autumn of 1914 Franz Reinisch and his brother visited Andreas Gymnasium of the Franciscans in Tirol. In 1919, the brothers looked for an apartment together in order to be more independent. Reinisch, who later recalled this time fondly, performed well in school.


Franz Reinisch began to study law on 28 September 1922 at the Leopold-Franzens University in Innsbruck . His motto for this time, derived from the motto of his fraternity K.Ö.HV Leopoldina was "immovable as the mountains of home, our faith is in Jesus Christ and Mary." A year later he studied in the Kiel coroner's office, where he was temporarily a member of the AV-Rheno Guestfalia Kiel . During this time he participated in a four-week retreat. Through his experiences in the port city he decided to become a priest. In Innsbruck he began in the fall of 1923, the study of theology and philosophy. At the age of 22, Reinisch entered the seminary of Brixen. Here he first had contact with the Pallotti-priests and engaged into a close friendship with Pallotti-priest Richard Weickgenannt SAC. Through him he joined the Schoenstatt movement. During Advent, he took part in a pilgrimage to Rome. The highlight of this pilgrimage was a papal audience on Christmas Eve 1926. Two years later, on 29 June 1928, he was ordained a priest in Innsbruck Cathedral . In the same year on November 3, he took up residence in the Pallottiner Monastery Untermerzbach in Bamberg. Here he was confronted with strict house rules. He learned to renounce smoking. Right at the beginning of the study period, Reinish threw out 150 cigarettes. After just three weeks in the novitiate, he planned to run away. Reinisch tried to escape over the wall of the novitiate one evening. However, when he passed the Lourdes Grotto, he could not go on. He later said that it was as if someone held him. This evening was for him the key event of his education. In Salzburg he finished his theological studies in the fall of 1932.

Time in Schoenstatt

In 1933 Franz Reinisch went to Augsburg. Here he was responsible for youth work and quickly showed his talent for preaching. Among the young people he found many enthusiastic listeners. Through a priestly magazine he first learned of Schoenstatt. Five years later, in 1938, after several transfers to Constance, Hohenrechberg, to the St. Paul Home in Bruchsal, Salzburg and Untermerzbach, he finally came to Schoenstatt . Here Franz Reinisch was entrusted with mission work and men's ministry. He held here especially many retreats and conferences. From Schoenstatt he undertook many tours throughout Germany. He also built a close relationship with Father Joseph Kentenich. Early on he began to confront the emerging ideology of National Socialism. His troubles with the law began when the Gestapo became aware of his speeches in which he openly addressed the incompatibility of Christianity with the ideas of the Nazi regime. For this reason he received a ban on sermons and speeches on 12 September 1940 . He took up work for the church by translating ecclesiastical messages and texts from Italian into German magazines. He defied the ban and continued to attend speeches

Decision of Conscience

"I, as a Christian and Austrian can never take the oath of allegiance to a man like Hitler. There must be people who are protesting against the abuse of authority, and I feel called to this protest."
- Franz Reinisch

On 12 September 1941 Reinisch received the call-up to join the Wehrmacht. Franz Reinisch, who was convinced that Hitler was the personification of the Antichrist, refused the oath of allegiance to Hitler, even though conscientious objectors expected severe penalties. Although many tried to convince him otherwise, Father Joseph Kentenich, who by this time was in the concentration camp at Dachau, strengthened him in his decision. At the time of his decision of conscience he often prayed before the image of Mary at the Shrine of Schoenstatt: "Dear Mother Thrice Admirable, let me live as an ardent Schoenstatt apostle and die!" On Easter Tuesday in 1942 he was given the command for entry into the armed forces. During his prayers he made the final decision not to make the oath of allegiance. In a visit to Innsbruck, he told his parents of his decision.

On 15 April 1942 Franz Reinisch arrived a day later than ordered in the barracks in Bad Kissingen and immediately declared his refusal to swear the oath of allegiance to Hitler. He publicly noted that he would swear allegiance to the German people but never to Adolf Hitler. He was arrested and brought before a court-martial, charged with undermining military morale. His trial dragged on, so he was brought in May to the Berlin-Tegel prison, where the initial prison chaplain denied him communion for failure to perform his duty. In August Franz Reinisch was moved to Brandenburg in Berlin, where he received a court order to be sentenced. In prison he wrote the poem "You're the Great People", as a dirge in anticipation of a death sentence. On 20 August 1942 the death sentence was read aloud at 20:00 clock by the public prosecutor. Reinisch commented, "The convict is not a revolutionary, a revolutionary is a head of state and public enemy who fights with fists and violence; he is a Catholic priest with the weapons of the spirit and of faith. And he knows what he is fighting." Franz Reinisch prayed all night and wrote a farewell letter to his parents and siblings. One of the last words of greeting from the prison cell was "love and suffering into joy. F. Reinisch". On August 21, 1942 he made holy confession at midnight. At 1:00 am he received Holy Communion. At 3:00 he gave all the things he had to his family, including a cloth in which the Eucharist was wrapped, his death cross, the rosary, some books and a farewell letter. At 3:30 his shoes and socks were taken off, his hands were tied behind his back, and he was led to the basement execution chamber. At 5:03 Franz Reinisch was beheaded. His ashes were then buried next to the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt.


Reinisch's attitude encouraged other the prisoners sentenced for similar actions, for example Franz Jägerstätter, in his decision to refuse military service, who was executed in 1943.


On 28 May 2013 the Bishop in Trier, Stephan Ackermann, started the process for beatification for Reinisch. The postulator for this process is Father Heribert SAC.

His feast day is 21 August. Since 1962, in the night of 20 until 21 August is the Reinisch-Vigil of his thought.

In Schwäbisch Gmünd reminds one at the Cultural Center "preacher" attached table to the local victims of National Socialism, including Father Reinisch. In the "preacher" and the Gestapo offices were set up from 1938.

In his native town of Feldkirch the Franz Reinisch pathway is named after him, and in Innsbruck/Wilten there is a road sign the Pater-Reinisch-way, dedicated in 1983. In 2001, the municipality Vallendar named the Father Franz Reinisch Bridge after him. In Germany in Friedberg (Bavaria) there is a street named after him, and the Schoenstatt Youth of the Archdiocese of Bamberg gave its house the name Reinisch. Memorial Chapel Cathedral Passau

Bad Kissingen has remembered Reinisch since 2001 with a memorial stone. Also in Bad Kissingen the Father-Reinisch-house of the Schoenstatt movement is in the diocese of Würzburg, which was named after him in 1979. The Pallotinerzentrum in Castle Hersberg in Immenstaad has a plaque dedicated to Reinisch.

Reinisch is honored in the Cathedral of Passau in the Memorial Chapel.

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