Eugen Stöffler and Hermann Diem
Eugen Stöffler was a member of the Church-Theological Society in Württemberg, the president of which was Hermann Diem, pastor in Ebersbach. The organization of theologians associated with the Swiss theologian Karl Barth took a firm position within the Confessing Church.
In the spring of 1938, its members rejected the “Pledge Instead of an Oath to the Führer”, which was required of pastors by regional bishop Wurm as a peace offering to the state. Kristallnacht in November of 1938 had a shock effect. Members of the Church-Theological Society intensively discussed a positive relationship of Christians to Jews theologically.
In March of 1939, they invited the Swiss Old Testament scholar Wilhelm Vischer to a lecture on “Salvation Comes from the Jews”. Following the introduction of the Jewish badge, Hermann Diem called upon the church government to require pastors to show their solidarity with the persecuted Jews in their sermons.
At Easter of 1943, Diem, together with a working group in Munich, formulated the “Letter from Munich Laity”, which was intended to be read aloud from all pulpits as the bishops’ pastoral letter. After this push for a common public statement from the church had failed out of fear of persecution, the friends of the Society had no other option than to take part in illegal rescue operations.
They created the “parsonage chain” in Württemberg. The married Krakauer couple was originally supposed to come from Berlin to Ebersbach as their first stop, arranged by Ilse Härter, a substitute pastor from Berlin and a member of the Society.
Since he was Vicar Härter’s officially advisor, Eugen Stöffler must have been informed. The plan failed because the fugitive Franziska (Fraenze) Neumann, the wife of a Jewish cantor from Berlin, had been discovered and arrested in the parsonage in Ebersbach together with her two boys, six and eight years old shortly before. The parsonage in Köngen thus became Max und Ines Krakauer’s first stop in Württemberg.
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- © Photo of Stöffler: Private collection of Ruth Stöffler © Photo of Diem: Private collection of Martin Diem