Life in Hitler's Germany

Memories of School Sisters of Notre Dame Recorded in Crisis

The story of the School Sisters of Notre Dame is inseparable from cultural events that have formed the congregation. Living in wartime is a constant reality in this story. As an adult, Mother Theresa remembered watching with her parents as Napoleon bombed Regensburg. She understood the devastating effects of war and establishing the congregation within the context of wartime limitations. Imagine the challenges she faced in creating an international community during such turbulent times.

In one of her classic letters, Mother Theresa offers practical suggestions regarding living in wartime. Explore her common sense in these real-life scenarios and consider your own response in similar situations.

World War II touched everyone's life in a unique way. Discover how the Nazi philosophy and Hitler's regime affected religious teachers. Follow some of the stories of German School Sisters of Notre Dame who had to leave their homeland to minister in North America.* Or begin to understand the horrors of the concentration camps through the eyes of Sister Imma Mack. The context of their choices gives a new understanding of the difficulties these sisters faced. Sister Victoria Wiethaler gathered these stories and published them in 2003. She left this legacy to the congregation shortly before her death in 2005.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame have been blessed with strong leadership. Meet one courageous leader, Mother Almeda Schricker who nurtured the sturdy roots of internationality and sisterhood during World War II and beyond. The event narrated in Mother Almeda's letter tells of the bombing of the Munich Motherhouse in December 1944. In this classic letter, showing the depths of SSND commitment to peace, she does not reveal that Americans and their Allies were responsible for the bombing.

The end of World War II in Europe was met by a variety of responses. There are remembrances of the end of the war in France, Germany, England, and the small town of Washington, MO. Mother Fidelis Krieter responded to the end of the war by sending of Care Packages to European School Sisters of Notre Dame. Expressions of gratitude have been extended throughout the past 50 years. One letter is especially touching, sent by Sister Brunhild Teufel on the 50th anniversary of the death of Mother Fidelis. The Baltimore celebration of the arrival of the German sisters is another example of responding to the end of World War II.

A prayer service entitled, "The Vine and the Branches," completes this topic. The pruning of the European Units of the congregation during this difficult period led to flowering in other parts of the SSND world.

*Some German sisters also went to Latin America and England. After World War II ended, the School Sisters of Notre Dame went to Japan in 1948.

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