Thought for the Day – 15 January – The Memorial of Bl Nikolaus Gross (1898-1945) Martyr
Excerpt from “A Daughter Remembers”
by Marianne Gross Reichartz
“On 15 January 1945 Roland Freisler announced the death sentence. Quote from the process report. “Modest in nature, near the proclamation of judgement, weeping.” After the verdict my parents could see each other again and say goodbye for this life.
In a farewell letter to his family, my father writes:
“Especially you, dear mother, I still have to thank you. When we said goodbye a few days ago for this life, I returned to the cell, I thanked God from the bottom of my heart for your Christian strength and faith. Yes, mother, through your brave farewell You have poured a bright light on my last days of life, the conclusion of our heartfelt love could not be more beautiful and happy than it has become through your strong-minded behaviour. “
On 23 January 1945, my father was executed in Berlin Plötzensee.
After the end of the war, my mother’s great task was to continue on her own what she and her husband had dreamed up for their family. My brother Klaus returned from Russia three years after the end of the war. My mother now had to raise her seven children alone and we were not simple children. Since we had received no official death message, my mother did not receive any pension. We rented the parental bedroom to guests. All children wrote addresses for the newspaper advertisement of the first Cologne newspaper, for 2 Pfennig per letter. We girls sewed rubber panties on behalf of a small company created in the backyard. While the widow Freisler already put in their considerable pension every month, my mother had to fight for her pension for years under degrading circumstances.
But never has this strong and upright woman criticised her husband’s path, never felt betrayed or abandoned. All the good that happened to us, she attributed to my father. When friends and good people helped us with food and money during the hunger period after the war and when they helped us children with their schooling and job search, the mother called them “tools of the father.” “The father helps us again,” she always said then.
As young people we often and gladly discussed after the end of the war. For too long the mouth had been banned. A popular topic was: Can a father of seven children go so far? Her answer: “He would have died internally if he could not have lived his life and his faith and that would have been as much a death to him as bodily death.” The memorial days of her husband (the anniversary of the death on 23 January and 20 July), the many initiations and naming ceremony, she celebrated with strength and dignity.
When the name of my Father is proclaimed in St Peter’s Square on 7 October 2001, at the Beatification of Nikolaus Gross, I am not only proud of my father, then, I am proud of my parents!”
You have given the Blessed Nikolaus Gross
the strength to be a Christian in family, work and society
and to give his life
in resistance to the evil forces of his time.
We ask you –
Strengthen us also in faith,
so that we may recognise
Your mission for our lives
and fill it with courage and perseverance,
through Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives in the unity of the Holy Spirit
with You and reigns for all eternity.