League of German Officers
Some high-ranking officers held prisoner of war wanted to fight against Hitler, by whom they felt betrayed, and to play a role in saving Germany and the German people. At the same time, they wanted to mitigate the fate of prisoners of war. They were unwilling to work in the NKFD for ideological reasons. At the suggestion of the Soviets, they founded the “League of German Officers” (BDO) in Lunyovo camp on September 11-12, 1943.
Among them were the Protestant pastor Johannes Schröder and the Catholic Wehrmacht chaplain Josef Kayser. The officers were given verbal assurances that the Soviet Union would advocate a German Reich in the borders of 1937, provided that the BDO managed to incite a coup d’état against Hitler. The hope that the League of German Officers would be able to establish itself as the representative body of prisoners of war was quickly dashed.
Staff and organization of the league, to which one hundred officers belonged, were already merged with the NKFD to form the “Free Germany” movement on September 14, 1943. Schröder and Kayser were admitted to the NKFD. Thirty-seven clergymen joined the BDO by the spring of 1945. A total of altogether fifty-five to sixty clergymen are assumed to have belonged to the “Free Germany” movement.
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- © Christiane Godt-Schröder