Germany Celebrates Priest Who Died for Fighting Eugenics

September 26, 2019

The diocese of Limburg in Hesse (Germany) celebrated on September 15, 2019, the figure of Father Richard Henkes, deported and died in Dachau in 1945, for publicly speaking against the eugenics advocated by the National Socialist regime.

While the debate on bioethics opens in the National Assembly on September 24, 2019, and the new president of the Conference of Bishops of France, Bishop Eric de Moulin-Beaufort, encourages Catholics to protest against a bill. disputed, the Church of Germany has just honored the figure of Richard Henkes, a priest who died in Dachau in 1945.

Ordained priest in 1925 in the Society of the Catholic Apostolate - whose members are also called "pallotins," named after the founder, St. Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850) - Richard Henkes is one of those ecclesiastics from across the Rhine who have seen clearly in the neo-pagan ideology of the Third Reich.

From 1941, the religious began to denounce the practice of abortion. Established under the Weimar regime in 1927 in case of danger to the life of women, abortion was made compulsory in 1935 "for eugenic reasons" by the Hitler regime. He also combats the euthanasia of invalids and invalids with a view to "racial purification".

Arrested in 1943, he was deported to the Dachau camp in Bavaria. Assigned to forced labor in particularly difficult conditions, he remains steadfast in his faith, encouraging his companions to pray tirelessly.

Having learned the Czech language from the future Cardinal Beran, deported like him, Father Henkes volunteers to take care of block 17, mainly inhabited by Czech prisoners. He cares for patients suffering from typhus, to whom he administers the last sacraments.

Contracting himself typhoid fever, Richard Henkes died on February 11, 1945, after an agony that lasted five days. His body is cremated in the camp's crematorium.

The figure of Father Henkes shows an eminent sacerdotal zeal and a charity for the weakest. His defense of the life of his conception to his natural death is that of the natural law which God has printed in every creature and solemnly confirmed by the prescription of the Decalogue, of which the Church is the guardian.