Heart And Soul: Frère Alfred, le Franciscain de Bourges


The Franciscan of Bourges

Alfred Stanke was a German Franciscan monk, who was a medical orderly during Wold War II and helped and saved hundreds who were tortured in Bourges, France.

Alfred Stanke

Born Aloïs Joseph Staniszewski, 25 October 1904 in Ohra, near Dantzig - now Gdańsk - in Poland, he entered the Franciscan Order in 1920 as Brother Alfred. After a period spent in Vatican City, he worked as a nurse in a hospital in Cologne (Köln). He was arrested by the Nazis with other monks in 1936. He was then impressed in the German army after the invasion of Poland and sent to France in 1940. In 1942 he was transferred to Bourges, to work as a warden and nurse at the prison.

Alfred Stanke

There he did everything to help the prisoners tortured by the Gestapo. He healed them the best he could, comforted them so they did not lose hope, helped them communicate among themselves before the questioning. He also helped prisoners communicate with the outside world, with the assistance of Georges Ruetsch and Félix Desgeorges and managed to avoid internment to many resistance fighters.

Alfred Stanke

In 1944 he was transferred to Dijon and kept on helping prisoners. Arrested a few months later by the American army, he was finally freed from the US jails in 1945 thanks to the French people he had helped.

Alfred Stanke

After the war, he worked for the reconciliation between France and Germany and sharing his time between the two. Alfred Stanke tragically died on 23 September 1975 and is buried near Bourges, in Saint-Doulchard cemetry. His action during the war is depicted in a book and a famous movie.

Alfred Stanke

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Update 2020-07-13    Copyright © Michel ENKIRI