Arrest, Sentencing and Reassignment
After being transferred to the jail in Stuttgart, Pastor Otto Mörike was taken into “protective custody” for four days until April 14, 1938, Maundy Thursday.
When, after his release under the condition of not returning to Kirchheim, he nevertheless reappeared at home, he was rearrested on April 19. Two days later, he had to leave Kirchheim forever. The church government assigned him the job of substitute pastor in Dornhan im Schwarzwald and Esslingen and, as of July of 1939, the position of pastor in Weissach and Flacht, Dekanat Leonberg.
The Special Court in Stuttgart sentenced Otto Mörike on November 27, 1939 to ten months of prison with three years of probation as well as a ban on speaking in his former congregation in Kirchheim.
In a letter written on Maundy Thursday to her eldest daughter Dorle, who was twelve years old at the time, Gertrud Mörike reported on her father’s detention. In her letter she mentioned three theologians from the Confessing Church who were likewise in detention:
The Reformed theologian Karl Immer (1888–1944), a leading member of the Rhenish Confessing Church, had already been banned from speaking several times and was in detention; Karl Steinbauer (1908–1988), a vicar in Bavaria and a founding member of the Bavarian Confessional Community, was arrested four times and spent nine months in Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen concentration camp; Martin Niemöller (1903–1974), founder of the Pastors’ Emergency League and the pastor in Berlin-Dahlem from 1931 until his arrest in 1937. He was as “Hitler’s personal prisoner” from 1938 until the war’s end, first in Sachsenhausen concentration camp and then in Dachau concentration camp as of 1941.
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- © Private collection of Dora Metzger