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Hermann Scheipers

Hermann Scheipers, Passport photo, ca. 1925

Mediathek Sorted

Media library
  • From childhood days - Hermann Scheipers and his twin sister Anna.
  • The Scheipers family - In Ochtrup.
  • Hermann Scheipers as a Boy Scout -
  • Commemorative card “The first year students at the grammar school in Rheine” - Front.
  • Commemorative card “The first year students at the grammar school in Rheine” - Back with personalised dedication.
  • Old school books are thrown into the River Ems from a bridge in Rheine - Symbolic entry into maturity.
  • Norwegian Cruise, ca. 1936. - The trip cost 45 Reichsmarks. Hermann Scheipers earned this as an assistant to Father Hubert Winckelmann from Greven
  • Hermann and Anna Scheipers -
  • Hermann Scheipers - Profile.
  • Passport photo - Front view.
  • Passport photo - The rear side with dedication, photographer's address and official stamp.
  • Hermann Scheipers in front of his parents’ rented house - Ochtrup.
  • Hermann Scheipers with his sister Anna (left) - In Hubertusburg before October 1940.
  • In his own car - A Brennabor, headquartered in Brandenburg an der Havel.
  • The back of the photo with his own car - With a handwritten remark: “1. car, Brennabor, Battery on the running board”.
  • The Dachau concentration camp - Archway, ca. 1941.
  • Prisoners in Dachau (1) - They most photos probably come from the American authorities.
  • Prisoners in Dachau (2) - They most photos probably come from the American authorities.
  • Prisoners in Dachau (3) - They most probably come from the American authorities.
  • Prisoners in Dachau (4) - They most probably come from the American authorities.
  • Prisoners in Dachau (5) - They most probably come from the American authorities.
  • Prisoners in Dachau (6) - They most photos probably come from the American authorities.
  • Prisoners in Dachau (7) - hey most photos probably come from the American authorities.
  • Prisoners in Dachau (8) - They most photos probably come from the American authorities.
  • Experiments on how the human body reacts to low temperatures - The Dachau concentration camp.
  • Secretly taken photo in a storeroom. - Hermann Scheipers in the concentration camp at Dachau at the end of 1944. Left, Pastor Burkhard (Bishopric of Augsburg); in the middle, Scheipers in a “Zebra” jacket he borrowed from a fellow prisoner; right, Pastor Neunzig (Bishopric of Trier).
  • The rear side of the secretly taken photo - With handwritten remarks by Scheipers
  • Church service for the priests in the Dachau concentration camp -
  • The rear side of the photo of the church service for priests in the Dachau concentration camp - With a handwritten remark by Scheipers: "Church service of the concentration camp priests in Dachau (Most of the prisoners are already wearing suits that have been cut up and sewn over with the X, because by 1944 there were no more prisoner clothes [...]"
  • Death march through Grünewald, 2 - The photo was secretly taken by a citizen of Grünewald.
  • Death march after the evacuation of the Dachau concentration camp at the end of April 1945 - Here, a death march through Grünewald (South of Munich). The photo was secretly taken by a citizen of Grünewald.
  • Passport photo - Hermann Scheipers in April 1945.
  • Personal identity card 1945 - Interior view.
  • Exterior view of Hermann Scheipers' identity card - Issued in Starnberg on the 16th May 1945, with official stamp.
  • At the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Fuchsberg chapel in Schirgiswalde - Hermann Scheipers 1960
  • Hermann Scheipers' trip to Poland -
  • The funeral of Bishop Trochta in Czechoslovakia - Silent sermon by the bishops and cardinals due to the ban on speaking. Fourth from the left in the front row: Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla.
  • Wreath for Bishop Trochta - Hermann Scheipers laid it down at Trochta's grave on behalf of the German Dachau priests.
  • The Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyla - At the funeral of Bishop Trochta in Leitmeritz.
  • Scheipers’ sister Anna - With the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • Hermann Scheipers with Volker Schlöndorff -
  • Hermann Scheipers in front of the White House in Washington D.C. - He made the journey at the invitation of the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport.
  • Dir gehört mein Leben (DE) - Die Geschichte von Anna und Hermann Scheipers. Zivilcourage und Gottvertrauen unter zwei Diktaturen - 29 min

    Dir gehört mein Leben (DE)

    Die Geschichte von Anna und Hermann Scheipers. Zivilcourage und Gottvertrauen unter zwei Diktaturen - 29 min
  • I owe you my life (EN) - The story of Anna and Hermann Scheipers. Civil courage and trust in God under two dictatorships - 29 min

    I owe you my life (EN)

    The story of Anna and Hermann Scheipers. Civil courage and trust in God under two dictatorships - 29 min
  • Moje życie należy do ciebie (PL) - Historia Anny i Hermanna Scheipersów. Odwaga cywilna i zaufanie Bogu pod dwiema dyktaturami - 29 min

    Moje życie należy do ciebie (PL)

    Historia Anny i Hermanna Scheipersów. Odwaga cywilna i zaufanie Bogu pod dwiema dyktaturami - 29 min
  • Presentation of the Knights Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland to Hermann Scheipers - Speech of the General Consul of the Republic of Poland in Cologne Jan Sobczak, 26th February 2013 in Ochtrup.
  • The Order is awarded - The Order is awarded
  • General Consul Jan Sobczak - General Consul Jan Sobczak (l. to r.), Hermann Scheipers with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Polish Order
  • The certificate of the Order - The certificate of the Order containing the signature of the President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski
  • Hermann Scheipers´ speech of thanks - Hermann Scheipers´ speech of thanks
  • Hermann Scheipers - A unique document of contemporary history. A current conversation with Hermann Scheipers in front of the camera.

    Hermann Scheipers

    A unique document of contemporary history. A current conversation with Hermann Scheipers in front of the camera.
  • Stoplerstein für Prälat Hermann Scheipers - Der Stolperstein mit Lebensdaten von Hermann Scheipers wurde am 3. Februar 2018 vor der früheren elterlichen Wohnung in das Pflaster des Bürgersteiges eingesetzt.
  • Gedenktafel für Anna und Hermann Scheipers - Die Gedenktafel erinnert an die besondere Zivilcourage der Zwillinge Anne und Hermann Scheipers.
  • The Grave of Hermann Scheipers in Ochtrup - The Grave of Hermann Scheipers in Ochtrup - Alter Friedhof at the Alte Maate (bottom on the right).
  • The Grave of Hermann Scheipers - The Grave of Hermann Scheipers in Ochtrup (Alter Friedhof in Alte Maate).
Hermann Scheipers, Passport photo, ca. 1925
Hermann Scheipers, Passport photo, ca. 1925

When I suggested the idea of publishing a lot of photos from his private collection on the Porta Polonica website, Hermann Scheipers replied in flawless Polish “W porządku!” (“That’s fine!”). Hermann Scheipers is a Catholic priest who will be 102 on 24th July 2015. There is not the slightest doubt that he is held in veneration by Polish people living in Germany. In 1940 he was thrown into prison for his exemplary commitment to the welfare of Polish forced labourers. Not long afterwards he was sent to the concentration camp in Dachau where he narrowly escaped the gas chamber thanks to the help of his twin sister Anna.

And today I am talking to him in Ochtrup (Westphalia), where he now lives, to hear once more the incredible stations of his life and his suffering under two German dictatorships. My immediate impression is that Scheipers is only too willing to speak about his experiences. Although his voice is rather shaky he still exudes the power, conviction and self-confidence that surely helped him survive the monstrous conditions in the concentration camp, and even to endure the death march after the camp was evacuated in 1945. (For more, see the conversation in the mediatheque between Hermann Scheipers and Jacek Barski on 12th May 2015 in Ochtrup). 

Hermann Scheipers is a man of action, bursting with ideas. And a man of faith. You can see this simply from the photos of him that go back a complete century. His appearance is full of charisma, inner conviction, single-mindedness and tenacity. His mystifying smile, even on the photos from his time in a concentration camp, radiates confidence, joy and an active Christian belief that faith knows no fear.

Hermann Scheipers was born on 24th July 1913 in Ochtrup. In 1928 he passed his A-level examinations in Rheine, and one year later he liberated himself symbolically from his previous life when, during the first anniversary celebrations of his leaving school, he threw his old school books into the Ems and decided to become a priest. Nonetheless he has remained open to the world and interested in foreign countries and languages. During his lifetime he has travelled through France by bike, and even managed with the help of a trick to get himself a trip on a cruise to Norway promoted by the Nazi organisation “Strength through Joy”.

On 1st August 1937 he was ordained as a priest in St. Peters Cathedral in Bautzen and took up the post of chaplain in Hubertusburg near Leipzig. Even then he began making contacts with the many Poles living there. In his book “Balancing Act” (1939) he describes a remarkable episode: “In 1939 I drove a Polish woman to Leipzig because she wanted to visit the Polish Embassy there. It was the day after the so-called “Night of Broken Glass”. We drove through the shards of broken shop windows, a number of Jews were standing in the water from the River Pleiße, and the embassy courtyard was packed with Polish Jews in search of protection”.

After the German invasion of Poland, which triggered off the Second World War on 1st September 1939, the priest was confronted for the first time with the injustices inflicted on Poland by the Germans, when Polish citizens were deported to Germany as slave labourers. Without further ado Hermann Scheipers organised pastoral care for them, since it was not expressly forbidden to hold supplementary church services for Polish forced labourers. With the help of an interpreter from the forced labour camp in Mahlis, who translated the gospel into Polish, he prepared a Sunday service for the Poles.

The Mayor of Wermsdorf promptly reported it to the Gestapo in Leipzig. In 1940 Scheipers was summoned there for interrogation. Here he was arrested on the grounds of his refusal to refute his faith and calling as a priest and to disassociate himself from providing pastoral care to Polish forced labourers. On 24th December 1940 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon he was taken into “protective custody”, an act of supreme cynicism. Thus began a life of martyrdom in Nazi Germany. On 20th March 1941 he was taken to the concentration camp in Dachau. Here more than 1000 priests and other clergy were permanently thrown together in Block 26, where they were subject to a daily programme of humiliation and torment.