- Joseph Ratzinger, Sr.
Joseph Ratzinger, Sr. (
March 6, 1877– August 25, 1959) was a German civil servant, policeman, and the father of PopeBenedict XVI (birth name Joseph Alois Ratzinger), and Georg Ratzinger; he was also a nephew of the German politician Georg Ratzinger.
Joseph Ratzinger and his wife Maria had three children in all (the third being Professor Maria Ratzinger), of whom Joseph A. Ratzinger was the youngest.
Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., served in the
Bavarian Landespolizeifor several years as a rural policeman.
Various sources state that the Ratzingers' views towards the
National Socialist German Workers Partycaused the family some hardship, including the family having to move several times in the 1930s. There is no evidence, however, that Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., was ever arrested for anti-Nazi tendencies. He continued to serve in the police even after such events as the Night of the Long Knivesand the passing of the Nuremberg Laws.
In 1936, Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., became a member of the
Ordnungspolizeiafter all the police forces of Nazi Germanywere absorbed into the SS.
In 1937, Ratzinger retired from the police at an early age of 60 years old, and went to live in
Traunstein, a small Bavarian district town.
From this point Ratzinger apparently had no further substantial problems with the Nazi Party. Nevertheless, even late into
World War II, most sources agree that Joseph Ratzinger, Sr. remained sternly anti-Nazi, refusing to allow his children to join the Hitler Youth, until threats from political officers made him succumb.
Joseph Ratzinger, Sr. lived the rest of his life in rural Bavaria. He lived to see his sons become priests in the 1950s, but died at the age of 82, long before the election of Benedict XVI as Pope.
Prominence and media interest
Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., became a figure of interest in the world media upon the election of his son as the new
Popeon April 19, 2005. Press coverage in some countries took up the point that Pope Benedict XVI had been in the Hitler Youth. German newspapers, such as " Bild", criticised the attention given in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, to facts which were already well known and in the public domain.
The majority of media sources later made it very clear that Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., had never been a member of the Nazi Party and had been known in the 1930s as an anti-Nazi sympathizer. The membership of his sons in the Hitler Youth was also dismissed as innocent, since by the 1940s membership in the Hitler Youth was mandatory for all young German men under the age of 18.
* [http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=631615 Ratzinger WWII Family History]
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