With the beginning of the war in September 1939, Stellbrink is solely responsible for the care of about 14 000 parishioners. He is exhausted and mentally overused. He is isolated in the Lübeck
regional church: He has turned away from the German Christians, the pastors of the Confessing Church mistrust him.
In the summer of 1940, his beloved foster son Ewald dies as a result of war injuries. Stellbrink writes to his biological father: “...he has become a victim of the powers of hatred and lies in this
Indeed, the pastor no longer makes any secret of his rejection of the war and the NS state towards supposed like-minded people. He is repeatedly cautioned by the Gestapo. In the attic of the church,
he hoards bags full of copper coins so that they cannot be melted down for armament purposes.
He knows that his open opposition to National Socialism will not remain without consequences.
But he suffers too deeply from the increasingly evident hostility of the authorities towards Christ and the church, from lies and injustice, so he cannot remain silent.
In the night from 28 to 29 March 1942, the British destroy vast areas of Lübeck’s Old Town
and also parts of St. Lorenz South with a heavy air raid. On Palm Sunday the following morning, confirmation is nevertheless celebrated in the Luther Church. Pastor and congregation are still under
the impact of the nocturnal bombing. In his sermon Stellbrink interprets the inferno as a sign in godless times — the people of Lübeck would learn to pray again. The Nazis cannot ignore this. As a
result, the Lübeck regional church initiates a dismissal process against the pastor.
A short time later Karl Friedrich Stellbrink is arrested.