On January 8, 1939 Steinbauer preached a sermon on the Massacre of the Innocents, denouncing the anti-Christian Nazi education of young people and the eradication of Christianity heralded by party officials. He disclosed the ban on teaching religion class imposed on him and explained that he had refused to submit the Certificate of Aryan Descent because he realized that Nazi racial laws would render the Lord Christ unable and unqualified to preach his own message and not allow him to enter any school. It was impossible for himas an ordained minister to submit to a law of the state intended to make the preaching of the Gospel contingent on Aryan blood (K. Steinbauer, Zeugnis 3, 242f).
This sermon became known as Steinbauer’s “arrest sermon”. One week later, at 3 o’clock in the morning of January 15, 1939, twenty drunken Storm Troopers descended on the parsonage, smashed in the front door, forced their way into the house and yelled, The pastor must go! (K. Steinbauer, Zeugnis 3, 245). Before the Storm Troopers were able to beat Steinbauer up, police took him into custody and to the jail in Neu-Ulm. The church government immediately worked for his release but was unable to achieve anything. Instead, the Nazis confronted Steinbauer with the choice of either resigning from his parish immediately or being taken away to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Christoph Simon, Steinbauer’s replacement in Penzberg parish, and the church council drove to Berlin to intervene with high political authorities. His wife Eugenie called on the chief of the Munich Gestapo but the choice remained either resignation or concentration camp. She explained to Regional Bishop Hans Meiser (1881–1956), who warned about the consequence for the family, we can never accept the price demanded by the party because they could then indeed deal thusly with all pastors otherwise (K. Steinbauer, Zeugnis 3, 248). The protective custody order was issued on March 2, 1939. It stated that Steinbauer had made subversive remarks about the party and state. His conduct was apt to bring unrest to the populace and to destroy confidence in the government (K. Steinbauer, Zeugnis 3, 290).
Steinbauer’s was sent off to Sachsenhausen concentration camp on March 27, 1939. Informed of the transport route by Steinbauer, the dean of Neu-Ulm notified pastors who lived at the scheduled stops, thus enabling fellow clergy and friends to be present at the train stations in Ingolstadt, Nuremberg, Hof and elsewhere, His wife visited with him in Halle. He was held in solitary cell 297 in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, not far from Martin Niemöller’s (1892–1984) cell, and remained imprisoned there until December 22, 1939.
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- © Landeskirchliches Archiv Nürnberg, PA Steinbauer 5387/4