I Must Take the Other Road
– By Alfred Delp. Delp’s final letter to his fellow Jesuits, February 2, 1945.
Dear Brethren, Here I am at the parting of the ways and I must take the other road after all. The death sentence has been passed and the atmosphere is so charged with enmity and hatred that no appeal has any hope of succeeding.
I thank the Order and my brethren for all their goodness and loyalty and help, especially during these last weeks. I ask pardon for much that was untrue and unjust; and I beg that a little help and care may be given to my aged, sick parents.
The actual reason for my condemnation was that I happened to be, and chose to remain, a Jesuit. There was nothing to show that I had any connection with the attempt on Hitler’s life so I was acquitted on that count. The rest of the accusations were far less serious and more factual. There was one underlying theme – a Jesuit is a priori an enemy and betrayer of the Reich. So the whole proceedings turned into a sort of comedy developing a theme. It was not justice – it was simply the carrying out of the determination to destroy.
May God shield you all. I ask for your prayers. And I will do my best to catch up, on the other side, with all that I have left undone here on earth.
Towards noon I will celebrate Mass once more and then in God’s name take the road under his providence and guidance.
In God’s blessing and protection,
Alfred Delp, S.J.
From The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp, first published in German as Im Angesicht des Todes by Verlag Josef Knechr, Carolusdruckerei, Frankfurt am Main,1958. First English edition © 1962 by Bloomsbury Publishing Co. Ltd. (New York: Herder and Herder,1963). Photo: Gedenktafel Alfred Delp in C7, 1-4, Mannheim, 2012-04-28 Graf Foto
See a selection of prison meditations written by Alfred Delp