Religion: German Martyrs

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Halted last fortnight in Mexico City after Germans threatened to bomb the theatre was the showing of the anti-Nazi film Pastor Hall (TIME, Aug. 12). It freely parallels Pastor Niemoller's career in op position, shows a small town Lutheran parson learning what the new Nazi gospel means, suffering in a concentration camp, escaping for a final sermon to his flock before being shot. Pastor Hall, says Dr. Leiper, "understates, not overstates" the terror.

At Sachsenhausen Pastor Niemoller has been placed on a regime of half rations, double heavy labor, solitary confinement. Rock-breaking, roadbuilding, ditch-digging, harsh treatment are fast wearing him out. He has not been beaten, but has told his wife on the rare visits she is permitted that he has seen others beaten unconscious. "When I write the address, 'Concentration Camp, Sachsenhausen,' " said one daughter, "then I am always very proud."

Priest & Pastor. The next-door cell to Niemoller's is occupied by Jesuit Rupert Mayer. Like Pastor Niemoller, Priest Mayer was a World War I hero, supported the Nazis in their early days, opposed them violently when they showed their anti-Christian colors.

Said Jesuit Mayer in 1937: "It is better for a priest to be shot down in Spain than to see his faith being dragged into the dirt in Germany." The Gestapo promptly arrested him. He was given a suspended sentence by the court, rearrested by the Gestapo. Like Niemoller he has refused release offered him on condition that he refrain from preaching.

Priest Mayer and Pastor Niemoller see each other occasionally in the courtyard, have become good friends. Their friendship is symbolic of a new bond which is growing between Protestants and Catholics throughout the Reich, where heretofore the two creeds have been divided as in few other lands by bloody memories of the Thirty Years' War. When 30 Confessional pastors were arrested in Prussia, slender, steel-nerved, aristocratic Count Konrad von Preysing, Roman Catholic Bishop of Berlin, directed that prayers for their safety be offered in every church of his diocese.

Flat as a pfennig has fallen the neo-pagan celebration of the Nordic Yule at the winter solstice, sponsored by Dr. Alfred Rosenberg and other extremist Nazis as a substitute for Christmas. Not since the Reformation has Christian feeling in the Reich been more intense. This Christmastide will see millions of Germans quietly celebrating a Christian Christmas. Protestants and Catholics alike will sing that best-beloved of all carols, Silent Night, in the fervent hope that the silent night will be followed by the dawn.

A Message from Prison. It was in his fortress prison after his comic-opera Beer Hall Putsch misfired in 1923 that Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf and planned the Nazi revolution. If Hitler falls after World War II his successor may even now be among the thousands who are passing this Christmas with Niemoller and Mayer in the concentration camps. And from his prison cell the Advent message that Martin Niemoller smuggled out last December reached the U. S. in time for another Christmas:

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