November 7th 1961 - Rösch Augustin
† in Munich
Not Alfred Delp was the prominent head of the South German Jesuits against the Nazi Regime, but Augustin Rösch. He came from Schwandorf in Upper Franconia. His day of birth was May 11th 1893. After the secondary school time in Rosenheim and Freising and the final examination in 1912 he decided, motivated by Spiritual Exercises, to enter the Noviciate of the Society of Jesus in Tisis (Vorarlberg). After the Noviciate (1912-1914) he was called up to the army in World War I. His last position was first lieutenant of the reserves and company commander. He was awarded with the Iron Cross III and I, the Bavarian Military-Service Order and the Silver Wounding Badge. After the war he studied philosophy and theology in Valkenburg. There he was also ordained priest in 1925.
After the academic years his first employment was Minister for students in Zurich. Soon after that he took over the office of the General Prefect and Rector of the Stella Matutina in Feldkirch (Vorarlberg). From 1935 to 1944 he was Provincial of the Upper German Province in Munich. The appointment took place on August 15th 1935. At that time he was relatively young, i.e. at the age of forty three.
The time of fight and resistance against the Nazis required much courage and self-sacrificing devotion. Father Rösch had to go through more than one hundred meetings with the Gestapo. On those occasions it was usually a matter of life and death.
After the arrest of Father Delp because of relationships to the resistance of July 20th, Father Rösch had daily to reckon with his arrest. He hid first in a small monastery, and as it became unsafe there, in a lonely farmstead. But there too his hiding place could in the long run not remain hidden. He was arrested on January 11th 1945 by the Gestapo and brought via Concentration Camp Dachau to Berlin Moabit.
For the SS (security squadrons) Communists, Jews, Freemasons and Jesuits belonged to the enemies of the Reich. The fight against the Jesuits did not break out with elemental power. The tempest was brewing slowly. From approximately two hundred South German Jesuits thirty eight were several times cross-examined, and two sentenced to death: Father Alois Grimm and Father Alfred Delp. The Nazis defamed the Order and searched the houses. Year by year the threat was growing.
The fight reached a culmination with the conviction of Father Rupert Mayer, who continued to preach despite the prohibition by the Gestapo, and was arrested a short time later. The colleges in Feldkirch and in Sankt Blasien were dissolved, and the foreign exchange processes against the German Jesuits began. The Jesuits were dismissed from the armed forces, allegedly because of being ineligible for military service.
Father Rösch stood up also for other religious orders. It be only reminded of the rescue of the contemplative nunneries in Elsass Lorraine in June 1943. Father Delp was introduced by Father Rösch into the Kreisauer Kreis. Delp was executed on February 2nd 1945, after Helmuth of Moltke, who had already on January 23rd suffered death by force. Father Rösch was arrested on January 11th and escaped only by a miracle the planned death. At the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on June 8the 1945 Father Rösch arrived after many hardships in Munich again.
He died on October 21st 1961 in Munich in the same hospital in which also Father Rupert Mayer had died on November 1st 1945. In the funeral on the order-own cemetery in Pullach near Munich several ministers of the Bavarian state government and high representatives of church and lay authorities took part. That was due not only to the director of the Bavarian Charity Organisation, but also to him personally, who had got so many honours, up to the Iron Cross I.
To him as provincial was entrusted the destiny of the Upper German Province of the Society of Jesus. His life was shaped by the fight against the National Socialists: Persecution, speech prohibition, arrest of Father Rupert Mayer, expulsion, expropriation, execution of Father Alfred Delp, finally his own arrest in connection with July 20th and his sentence of death, which he escaped by a miracle only. His words are explaining, but also transfiguring:
'I have gone through many things, but everything is grace. I am looking forward to heaven. Please, help me to return thanks, thanks.'
'Since my first Holy Communion I have asked in my prayers daily for the grace of the bloody martyrdom. There are many kinds of martyrdom. God gave me the bloodless one. I have much suffered in my priestly life, but all, everything was rich grace, and everything is for Jesus.'
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