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Protocol of Pastor Stellbrink's questioning

Questioning of 9 April 1942

I. Concerning the person

I was born on October 28th of 1894 as the son of Customs Secretary Karl Stellbrink and his wife Helene nee Kirchhof[f] at Münster and was raised lutheran. From my age between 6 and 7 I attended the Münster primary school and then changed to the preparation year of humanistic Gymnasium [secondary school]. After doing my one-year I studied theology at the seminary in Soest. In 1915 I was called up for the army and moved to the battlefield with the 4th grenadier regiment, namely to the West. 1917 I got severely wounded at the river Somme and dismissed from the army as not apt for war after the restitution of my health. After my dismission from military service I continued visiting Gymnasium[1] and graduated [Abitur]. This was in 1919. After successful graduation I again attended the seminary in Soest. In 1920 I did my final theological exam and worked consecutively one year as vicar student at Barkhausen/Westphalia. In 1921 I worked as a foreign pastor in South Brazil and quit in 1929. After my return from Brazil I got my first rectorate in Steinsdorf/Thuringia. From Steinsdorf I came to Lübeck in 1934 and am active since then as a minister of the Lutheran Church of Lübeck. In 1921 I have been marrying the teacher Hildegard Dieckmeyer. From this marriage on three children originated in the current ages of 14, 17 and 19. Additionally to my three own I adopted three foster childs, that is, 3 boys in the ages of 20, 19 and 5 years. My oldest foster son died on May 26th of 40 in the West.

Politically: As pupil and student I did not get busy on politics. Only during  my call to military service I got in touch with different classes and got inwardly influenced by these comrades in the Socialist sense. Having no political position on myself, I drifted along in this stream. After my dismission from military service I saw Germany’s decay and got a clear vision as far as politics are concerned, which drove me in the opposite direction. I entered the Pan-German League [2], which can be called politically concurrent with the National Peoples Party. After a short activity in this league at home I went to South Brazil as a foreign pastor, as already mentioned. There I subscribed for membership in the state community of the Deutschbund [3]. After my return in 1929 there was a tendency to two political parties at my new rectorate in Steinsdorf, namely the Stahlhelm [4] and a group of the NSDAP. I got prompted for cooperation by the leaders of both. At first I could not make up my mind, i.e. I was inwardly probably already clear about supporting the local NSDAP with my mentality and my work. The town leader of NSDAP Steinsdorf at that time recommended me not to enter the party as a minister. I then presented my working and financial power to the town group. I want to remark yet belonging to the Deutschkirchler[5] regarding clerical politics since 1921. During a Berlin meeting with a representative of the Deutschkirchler we got to talk about the NSDAP.This representative explained to me that contributions to Deutschkirchler also must include the membership of the NSDAP. To this I first objected because I did not want to be viewed as a late one, but confided my entering of NSDAP in 1933. In 1934 I then got the pastorate at the Luther parish of the Lutheran Church of Lübeck. There I noticed the local Hitler Youth being hostile towards the church. Me as a minister also being responsible for the education ot the youth, by that, i.e. the view of the Hitler Youth, my first objection arose against NSDAP in general. 1936 I quit my Deutschkirchler's membership, because they pushed the Ludendorff Movement [6] too far into the main agenda, and Christ should be eradicated. This dircetion I couldn't approve as a minister and therefore withdraw my membership. I saw in the behavior of the Deutschkirchler also an opposite to the strifes of the NSDAP. There were no other reasons for my withdraw. With my withdraw from the Deutschkirchler's Movement I parallelly wanted to indicate that I felt more attracted by the aims and strifes of the NSDAP and only wanted to accept it separately.

By a series of offenses out of the population a party lawsuit against me started. In the district court session of NSDAP in 1937 I was sentenced to getting  expelled from the NSDAP as worst reactionary. Against this judgement of the Lübeck district court I pleaded for revision at the state court of Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel. The sentence of the district court was nullified and I got dismissed (instead expelled) from the party. Since then, I ceased political activity.

Today I politically view the program items of the NSDAP fully acceptable and personally wish the Fuehrer the completion of his opus out of my whole heart. Though, there are some incidents in politics which prompt me to view the future of the German people darkly. Such incidents are for instance the following, as far as currently remembered:

1st The Lübecker Volksbote newspaper about on the beginning of May 1939 read an alleged uttering of Gauleiter Lohse[7] according to which a millennium of peace begin for Germany. I myself though cannot get this Gauleiter's uttering in concordance with the current, that is, after the unsure statement, broken out war. So I view a non-fulfilled prophecy in the words of the Gauleiter. I do not have other reasons for this position of mine.

2nd The Fuehrer said on the beginning of 1941, respectively on the turn of the year 1940 to 1941 “1941 would be the year of the completion of victory”[8]. Today, I cannot view these Fuehrer words as clearly fulfilled or understand them since the victory of Germany was not complete by the year of 1941. I cannot state more to this item.

3rd The hatred also of the overwhelmed peoples against Germany continuously grows, while I also consider the hatred of the additional peoples. As example for that I consider the following: Our soldiers in the occupied areas have to be cautious with cowardly murder ambushes, furthermore Sweden dares a language that is not appropriate for their situation, also the southern and northern American states and also Asiatic states get more and more on the haultow of Roosevelt's. I can also mention different reasons, but there are very many.

Even though I left the Comradeship of German Christians already in 1936, I did not so because I would have changed my opinion, but rather because I considered the tendency of this movement as non-compatible with its guidelines anymore. With that I want to say that I did not forsake the guidelines of the Comradeship of German Christians, but the movement itself, respectively their main leading men. Myself, I still today support the guidelines of the Comradeship of German Christians, my personal and object related behavior acts fully and only according to these guidelines, and I reject myself being viewed or called a pastor of the Confessing Church [9]. I have nothing to do with the Confessing Church.

If one could prove me once calling myself confession pastor in my utterings, I did so not in the sense of naming myself as “Confession” pastor and thus member of a certain clerical political group, but the exact contrary of this, namely a pastor of course standing for a confession.

Furthermore, I confide my following political view: The biggest inner political misery in this state is the existence of a so-called “clerical frontline”. I understand this term as a non-conscious stream of unsatisfied and  related persons to the ministers of the Church. I have the standpoint that the clerical frontline has to be eliminated. I recognize the existence of a clerical frontline by humans of the people frequently coming to me who have to report any spiritually located need and entering political grounds in their talk doing this and frequently committing state-harming or state-negating utterings. In such cases, due to my official obligation to silence, I saw it as my duty to evoke clarity in positive sense in such people, but not to report them. Single cases of this kind are not rememberable to me currently.

II. Concerning the matter

Pastor Stellbrink got heard about a charge temporarily only located here first, concerning his preach on Palm Sunday, that is, on the day after the Lübeck bomb attack. He explains to the matter: It is correct that I said in my Palm Sunday preach in the Luther Church: “In the misery of our home city we hear God's voice”. I am sorry for the case that the population understood by this wording that we heard God's correctional trial. I did not exactly mean that. Also having used the term “God's trial” I think is to be severely doubted, I can neither admit nor deny it, but commonly I am not comfortable with this term. If in the community my explanations are understood the way as if not the will of our enemies to commit a cultural deed of shame in Lübeck was guilty of the destruction of Lübeck, but God was guilty instead, I consider that to be ridiculous. It is correct instead that I said nothing about the cultural deed of shame the Englishman committed. I see that I would better have mentioned that also on that day. Me hurting the people's feelings I neither intended nor knew.

Me not finding a word of resent for the cultural deed of shame, the eradication of Lübeck City and its churches is due to the service being only an emergency one. It is also correct that I expressed my deepest grief about the Christ image having been shrouded with a black robe in a Lübeck tomb hall. I state explanatorily the following concerning that: About 3 weeks ago a requiem without the presence of a minister took place in the tomb hall of the Vorwerk cemetery. For this requiem the Christ image had been shrouded with a black robe[10]. I do not know who did this, but heard the [NSDAP] town leader had ordered to do so. The next requiem, having taken place in the same tomb hall, was held by me. Before that requiem took place, I looked the tomb hall over and thus also saw the shrouded Christ image. I had the hung over robe removed by a cemetery warden. Until then, no public had entered the tomb hall. Only after the robe was removed again, the tomb hall got prepared for the requiem that was to be held by me. The before mentioned happening therefore was the cause of my Palm Sunday speech. It is correct that I expressed myself in the sense of this happening being scandalous in Reformation Germany. Me having said the Lübeck bomb attack being an avenge and an ordeal of God for the shrouded Christ image is not correct, on the contrary I referred to each happening separately and consecutively compared them and commented God’s voice speak from both happenings. As already said, I regret the case me having hurt the people's feelings with my speech. I am going to be ready to make more statements in later hearings.


read, approved, signed
[signed] K. Fr. Stellbrink

[signed] John[12], criminal councillor


English translation: Ulrich Frey 


Volksempf&¨nger © Fiebig


The hearing protocol of the Gestapo, border police commissioners, originated on April 9, 1941, according to spoken statements of Karl Friedrich Stellbrink’s. It is not to be concluded anymore to which degree force was involved, tactical approaches of Stellbrink's influenced the statements, the text wrongly represented the spoken, or statements were omitted. For better understanding, the original text was equipped with some more subunit formatting, and some statements were commented on with reference subnotes. The original print of the protocol is kept in the federal archive at register no. BA NJ 13778, Vol. 2, sheets 13–15.



[1] at Berlin

[2] Pan-German League: A nationalist league founded in 1891 in the German Empire. After World War I it demanded the restitution of the German Empire with the old borderlines and became more and more anti-Semitic. Later, the league stood close to the NSDAP, but got dissolved in 1939.

[3] The Deutschbund was a “völkisch”-nationalist organization founded in the German Empire which constructed local groups (“communities”).

[4] The Stahlhelm (Steel Helmet) was a paramilitary league of former frontline soldiers founded after World War I which stood close to the National German People's Party (DNVP) and had the goal of the Caesar Empire restitution.

[5] The “Bund für Deutsche Kirche” (League for German Church) was a “völkisch”-Nationalist and anti-Semitic group originated in the German Empire which united in 1932 as a Protestant ecclesial party. Their ideology was to establish a national people's church “purified” from all Jewish influences. In their emblem the German Christians had both Christian cross and swastika. “Deutschkirchler” was called someone who belongs to the league.

Erich Ludendorff[6] Erich Ludendorff was a German general of World War I and took part of the Hitler assassination of 1923. He was a “völkisch” Nationalist, an Antisemit and anti-ecclesiast in his beliefs. In 1925 he founded the “Tannenbergbund” as a public alliance of frontline fighters.

Hinrich Lohse © Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1994-090-05 / CC-BY-SA[7] Hinrich Lohse was Gauleiter (Gau leader) of the Schleswig-Holstein NSDAP from 1925 until 1945. From 1941 until 1944 he additionally led the civil administration in the Reichskommissariat Ostland (Balticum) and there was one of the responsible for the murder of one million Jews. After the war the spokesmen's chamber of Bielefeld imposed an appallingly mild sentence against him: Ten years of imprisonment. Lohse got released due to illness only three years after the sentence. [Image © Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1994-090-05 / CC-BY-SA]

[8] Adolf Hitler utters in the New Year's address to the Wehrmacht on January 1st of 1941: “The year 1941 will bring along the fulfillment of the greatest victory of our history!”

[9] The Confessing Church emerged in 1934 in opposition to National Socialism as a Protestant assembly which condemned the ideology of the regime as an aberrant teaching.

[10] This deals with the requiem for the NSDAP member Siegfried Heincke on March 9th of 1942 at 3 p.m. Stellbrink led the consecutive service of grief at 3.45 p.m. The crucifix shrouded at that time is still today located in the center of the apsis of the cemetery chapel of the Vorwerk cemetery in Lubeck, which is a communal cemetery.

[11] negotiated as above

[12] Alexander John (1886–1945), criminal counsillor and Sturmbannfuhrer of the SS, led since 1941 the border police commissionership of the Secret State Police in the Lübeck equipment house.