December 2013/January 2014 - Vol. 71
I Must Take the Other Road

Father 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, 
Your grateful, 
Alfred Delp, S.J.

Return to Joy in the Face of Death - Alfred Delp S.J., by Jeanne Kun, with excerpts from the book, Even Unto Death: Wisdom from Modern Martyrs, edited by Jeanne Kun, The Word Among Us Press, © 2002. All rights reserved. Used with permission. The book can be ordered from WAU Press.

The execution chamber at Plötzensee Prison, outside 
Berlin, where the People's Court sentence of death on 
Delp was carried out in early 1945

A selection of meditations from prison 
written by Alfred Delp 

> The People of Advent
> True Happiness
> God Alone Suffices
> The name Jesus
> No Death Can Kill Us
> Aim at Heaven with All your Strength
> I Must Take the Other Road

[Selection from The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp, with an Introduction by Thomas Merton (New York: Herder and Herder, 1963)]


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