A “No” to Hitler’s Politicies on Election Day

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The married Mörike couple decided on a courageous act of protest on election day, April 10, 1938, on the occasion of the Austrian “Anschluss” with the Reich. Each of them placed an anonymous personal statement in the ballot box. Instead of bursting out in the public exaltation of the establishment of the” Greater German Reich” to which many churchgoers also succumbed, they desired to give expression to their personal concern about the Nazi state’s anti-church stance on the occasion of the celebratory election.

Otto Mörike’s statement read:

Although I find it difficult to participate in this election at all after something suspect obviously went on in the last election on March 29, 1936, I nevertheless do not want to pass up the opportunity, even at the risk that this statement will be counted just like the empty ballots at that time, and declare the following:

I answered the question: Do you approve of the reunification of Austria with the German Reich enacted on March 13 1938? with Yes. I answered the second question: Do you vote for our Führer Adolf Hitler’s list of candidates? with No.

Gertrud Mörike answered both questions negatively and also added a protest against the detention of Pastor Martin Niemöller:

What is a man doing in a concentration camp, who is the father of 7 children and who did his duty as a captain lieutenant in the war like hardly anyone else? As long as we the still have the Bible, will we also still be allowed to live according to it or does religious freedom only apply to non-Christians?

Breaking the secrecy of the ballot, both of their statements were already read aloud and discussed publicly on the evening of election day at a party assembly in the hall of the “Golden Adler” in Kirchheim unter Teck with free beer. In that night, Storm Troopers forcibly entered the parsonage, dragged Otto Mörike out of bed, beat him bloody and afterward took the “traitor to the people”– past an angry mob – to the city’s district prison.

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  • © Landeskirchliches Archiv Stuttgart, Dekanatsarchiv Leonberg, Altreg. Ortsakten Weissach A I 1

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