In the diary of Abbé Stock we read time and again entries like those: In
„September 20, twelve executions (hostages).
October 17, one execution (father of five children).
December 14, 82 executions (hostages).”
Solely in Winter 1941/42 there were about 500 executions.
And Abbé Stock is always present. He comforts the rampageous ones, caresses the quiet ones and weeps with those who are weeping. He listens to confessions and administers the last sacraments, reads from the old testament to persons of mosaic religion (of course, there are no longer any rabbis) and tries desperately to bring back those, who no longer want to know anything about God. Often this fails, frequently the men abuse their Creator and die with the name of Lenin on their lips.
July 1942 Franz Stock, badly suffering of coronary heart disease to a friend: „I think very often, I cannot carry on. What I am doing here is so terrible, that for many nights I lie there sleepless.”
In the preceding time he gets between all fronts. The Frenchmen denominate the blue-eyed blond at first contemptible a „Nazi Boche“, the worst of all imaginable insults, the Gestapo on the other hand and the cooperating French militia refuse the priest, who constantly refuses to wear the uniform of a military priest, at first the visit of political prisoners, but have to give in after a protest of the German Ambassador. Nevertheless their distrustfulness towards the „Friend of the Frenchmen“ persists.
Not without reason: The „Boche“, at first turned down after a brief period of time is becoming the close friend of most captives. He smuggles stiffs into the cells and delivers messages to the family members, procures fresh underwear and lecture, cigarettes and candies and provides – which is for them the most important thing – spiritual aid for the hopeless and desperate ones.
And he is just as cunning as courageous. Edmond Michelet, later the Minister for the French Army and of Justice, a brother-in-law of de Gaulle, recalls, how Abbé Stock has outmaneuvered the German guards in Fresnes, where Michelet was imprisoned.
„This German priest performed his office with unbelievable friendliness, with tact and charity. When he left he slipped a bible towards me, which P. Maydieu, a true friend and no less loyal co-conspirator, had given to him; he promised me to come back next week. Then he made believe that he wished to leave – coming back – whispered with an even still more silent voice: „We want to pray together a last Ave Maria-“
We had knelled down and turned our back towards the master sergeant. He continued with the same voice: “Ave Maria, gratia plena ... your wife has paid a visit to me yesterday, she is very well and the children too… Dominus tecum ... she wants to let you know that you should not worry, everything at home is fine ... benedicta tu in mulieribus."
This was a very important message, because the Gestapo had made the captive believe, his wife was their hostage. Now, knowing, that she is free from danger he was able to look forward to the next interrogation with more composedness.
But the executions continued and their number increased alarmingly after the landing of the Allied Forces in Normandy. About fourthousand prisoners had been shot to death during the occupation time in Paris, Abbé Stock has accompanied most of them to their death.
Sometime in the end he stopped counting.