On Aug. 8, 1943, the night before he was beheaded for refusing to fight for Hitler’s army, Franz Jagerstatter sat in a Berlin prison cell, deep in intimate prayer with God. On a table in front of him lay a piece of paper, a promise to serve in the Nazi medical corps. All he had to do was sign his name and the Nazis would let him live.

It was a simple choice. His guards encouraged him to sign the paper. His parish priest and bishop prayed for him to sign it and save himself. His wife and three little girls begged him to give up his one-man stand against imperial violence and sign the document so that one day he could come home.

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