Rudolf Redlinghofer (born October 31,1900 in Vienna-Alservorstadt, Austria) is an Austrian victim of the Nazi regime from Krems on the Danube. As one of Jehovah´s Witnesses (also known then as Ernest Bible Students), he refused military service due to his conscientious conviction and was executed by the guillotine on January 11,1940 in Berlin-Plötzensee - The Republic of Austria reversed his sentence 58 years after his execution and Rudolf Redlinghofer became one of the first victims of the Nazi regime to be rehabilitated in Austria.
Letter written 16.11.1939 to his wife Agnes, explaining his conscientious conviction.
On August 18,1939 he was arrested by the Gendamerie Krems due to an order issued by the Gestapo Division-St. Pölten and was imprisioned in Krems. On the following day he was transferred to the
Gestapo Division-St.Pölten. In St. Pölten, to start with, one tried to break his resistance. To this purpose, his wife was ordered to stand with their small child in front of the court room to
put pressure on her husband to change his conviction as he was lead past them. However Rudolf Redlinghofer remained determined in his conviction to obey God more than men.
Imprisonment and trial in Berlin
As a result, he was transferred to the Investigational Prison Alt-Moabit in Berlin on November 13, 1939. His court case was held before the Supreme Reichs War Court on December 9, 1939. The 3.
Senate of the Reichs War Court with Councilor Dr. Burckhardt as Prosecutor sentenced him to death and lifetime loss of military honors for undermining the military defense. According to the
record there was no Defender present. At this time he was also denied civil rights for life.
The decision was undersigned in course of law by Schmauser, v. Goeldel, Schrot, Büscher and Block. The President of the Reichs War Court confirmed the decision on December 21, 1939. Consequently, Rudolf Redlinghofer was transferred to Berlin Plötzensee Prison and arrived there on December 30, 1939.
Execution and Consequences
On January 11, 1940 after just a few days in Berlin-Plötzensee Prison, he was excorted to the location of execution. After the court decision was re-read Rudolf Redlinghofer with his hands tied
to his back was laid on the guillotine and beheaded. The Reichs War Court notified the Military Conscription Office in Krems of his execution on January 12, 1940. For his wife, Agnes, and their 2
year old daughter began a very difficult period of time. Agnes Redlinghofer attempted to support herself and her daughter as house-keeper and cook at an Inn. She later moved to the Heinemann Str.
5 and lived there until her death in 1987.
Agnes Redlinghofer often spoke to her daughter and grandchildren about her husbands conscientious conviction, as Jehovah´s Witness and how highly she esteemed his decision not to support Hitlers obsession with power.
His suite saves fellow Christian Brother
A fellow Christian brother of Rudolf Redlinghofer - Peter Goelles – was in prison in Stein near Krems. On April 6, 1945 - due to the approach of Russian Troops - all prisoners were to be set free
and the prison vacated. During the morning, the release of prisoners took place without trouble, but in the afternoon it came to what is called the Massacre of Stein. The order was given to hunt
down all released prisoners and to execute them. As a result, many prisoners were not only murdered in Krems, but it also came to mass shootings in Hadersdorf on the Kamp, Hörfarth, Paudorf and
other places. Peter Goelles was able to leave the prison in Stein and using back streets, found his way to Agnes Redlinghofers apartment in Krems. Agnes gave him a suit belonging to her husband
Rudolf who had been executed in Berlin-Plötzensee. Wearing this suit, Peter Goelles was able to escape the Massacre and arrive safely back to Vienna. In this way, Rudolf Redlinghofers suit saved
the life of one of his fellow christian brothers.
Rudolf Redlinghofer was rehabilitated in 1998 from the Republic of Austria, 58 years after his execution. On October 14, 1998, the Viennese Dictrict Court reversed the former unjust Nazi
decision. By doing so, is not only his conviction given appropriate honor but also his destiny escapes oblivion. Moreover, it also substantiates the fact, that loyally upholding ones
conscientious conviction is not a crime.
Outline of Persecution/Execution
Received Draft Notice to report for several weeks of practice duty
Letter sent to Military Conscription Office with his refusal of military service
Arrested and transferred to St. Poelten
Transferred to the Investigational Prison in Berlin-Moabit
Trial before Supreme Reichs War Court – Death Penalty
Death Penalty confirmed by President of Reichs War Court
Transferred to Berlin-Plötzensee Prison (location of execution)
Executed 6:10 a.m. By Guillotine
Reversal of Unjust Nazi Decision by Viennese District Court – completely rehabilitated
Stumbling Block put down in Krems, Spitalgasse 3 through Gunter Demnig
For more information as well as documents, pictures and background information: