Eugen Gerstenmaier received a Ph.D. in Philosophy and
Religion in 1936.
He made contact with the Ecumenical Council in Geneva and helped organize
spiritual care for prisoners of war and slave laborers and later entered
the church's foreign relations office where he cultivated relations
between the German Evangelical Church and the foreign churches.
he was introduced into the Kreisau
Circle by friends and co-conspirators Hans
Bernd von Haeften and Adam
von Trott. He also shared the conservative political views of Peter
Yorck and moved in with Yorck after his house was destroyed in bombing
Gerstenmaier supported Stauffenberg,
used his position to help plan the uprising against Hitler,
and stayed in close touch with Goerdeler.
On July 20, 1944: he
rushed to the Bendlerstrasse (carrying Bible and pistol) to help launch
the coup. Like Gisevius,
Gerstenmaier begged Stauffenberg and the other conspirators to be ruthless and shoot rather than arrest
anyone who offered resistance. Gerstenmaier was arrested that same evening
in the Bendlerstrasse along with Yorck and the others.
Gerstenmaier was tortured by the Gestapo with the use of a stick containing nails but didn't give away any names.
On January 11, 1945,
after skillfully defending himself in front of the People's Court and Nazi judge Roland
Freisler, Gerstenmaier escaped the noose with a seven-year hard-labor
He was liberated in April 1945 by U.S. forced and
served util 1949 as Director of Relief Work of German Evangelical Churches.
He also founded Relief Work of 20 July to help widows and children of
conspirators executed by Hitler.
In 1949 Gerstenmaier was elected as Christian Democrat
Deputy to post-war Germany's
first Bundestag. Her retired from politics in 1969 and died in 1986
after a prolonged, painfull illness.