Franz Jaegerstaetter (1907–1943) refused to serve in the German Wehrmacht. He was executed for his defiance, and in 2007, the Catholic Church recognized him as a martyr. Along with his wife Franziska, who supported him in his radical stance and suffered the consequences of his conviction, they are well-known as individuals who resisted an inhumane and homicidal regime. Franziska Jaegerstaetter shared the testimony of her husband Franz and fostered appreciation and reverence for him.
The Franz and Franziska Jaegerstaetter Institute owes its existence to the initiative of Professor Ewald Volgger, the Institute's Vice Rector for Research and Development. He was responsible for the liturgy during the celebration of Franz Jaegerstaetter’s beatification in 2007 —a project that brought him both to intensive study of Franz’s own words and into contact with Franziska, Jaegerstaetter biographer Dr. Erna Putz, and others. As a member of the Jaegerstaetter Advisory Board of the Diocese, Volgger supported the idea of anchoring Jaegerstaetter research within an institution. As rector in 2013, he proposed a foundation at the Catholic Private University, with the aim of securing the Jaegerstaetter writings and establishing a place to study and commemorate the couple.
In a ceremony attended by diocesan Bishop Manfred Scheuer, the Franz and Franziska Jaegerstaetter Institute was founded at the Catholic University of Linz on 25 October, 2017, the day before the 10th anniversary of Franz Jaegerstaetter's beatification.
The work of the Institute includes:
• Documentation of the early international Jaegerstaetter research, as well as the archiving of newer collections and memorabilia
• Editorship of the historical-critical edition of Jaegerstaetter writings
• Research for the biographies of Franz and Franziska Jaegerstaetter and studies of their reception
• Research regarding similar testimonies of resistance and ideological dissent during the era of National Socialism
• Support of Jagerstaetter commemorative work and supply for pedagogical and didactic applications and projects
• Organization of meetings and conferences