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Christ In Dachau

Item Number: 20434

Catalog Code: CD

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Christ In Dachau

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Christ in Dachau
Rev. John M. Lenz


Forgotten Priests in a Nazi Hellhole

Dachau concentration camp held the largest number of Catholic priests—more than 2400—in the Nazi camp system. They came from two dozen countries, from every background—parish priests and prelates, monks and friars, teachers and missionaries. Over one-third were killed.

Among the survivors was Fr. Johannes Lenz, who was asked by his superiors to write an account of what he saw. This book was the stunning result. An immediate sensation, it was quickly translated into English, French, Spanish and Italian. Catholic reviewers and churchmen alike were awestruck.

A very small sampling of the story and lessons:

  • “Fall out, Jews and priests!”: special treatment for “the scum of the camp”
  • Fr. Lenz’s astonishingly bold and prophetic words about Hitler to his interrogator, upon his arrest—duly recorded in official records
  • The many peculiar “reasons” priests were sent to Dachau: works of Christian charity—but crimes in the eyes of the Nazis
  • Preparing to face martyrdom: “Would I bear it holily? When would it end and how?”
  • “To break a man spiritually you must first break him physically”: how this Nazi doctrine was put into practice
  • Two priests sent to Dachau for refusing to give the Hitler salute to Hermann Goring—and how they died
  • The small group of leading Austrian Catholics that quickly became “an active center of spiritual power” within the camp
  • “Sister Pia”: the female Nazi—and ex-Catholic—who tried to convert the Dachau priests to Hitler’s creed
  • The underground resistance committee by which news and forbidden parcels were smuggled in—including altar wines and breads
  • The brutish “capos” (bosses): prisoners who won special privileges by selling their souls
  • Defending the Faith to a drunken SS officer—and nearly getting shot on the spot for it. “That took guts!” commented the communists who witnessed the exchange
  • “Unless you have known what hunger in a concentration camp is like, you cannot know what real hunger means”. How communist and atheist fellow-prisoners “conspired to make our life a Hell”
  • Roll-call: “standing our way to Heaven” for hours on end, in all extremes of weather
  • How the worst treatment of priests was reserved for Sundays and Feast Days, particularly Feasts of Our Lady—and its hidden spiritual significance
  • The Dachau townspeople: “Hitler’s willing executioners”? Quite the opposite: how many of them—including their parish priest—risked their own lives to assist the camp inmates
  • An ordination in Dachau

    “The most shattering but at the same time uplifting book I have read in my life.” —Archbishop Michael Buchberger of Regensburg (1960)

    “A ledger of Faith, as well as of crime.…Soberly, with deep feeling he shows the Catholic Church the only steadfast fighter against the Nazis.…He tells of heroism which never has come to our ears; the agony and martyrdom of Catholic priests, the physical and mental torture, the little things—and the tremendous. He tells of unspeakable things and of goodness.…These men and women, those who were murdered by the thousands in Dachau, and those who survived, were, as it were, missionaries in Hell.”—World Mission

    “Shattering, yet at the same time most touching.…These events can well be placed alongside those of the first three centuries of Christianity for use in apologetics and religious instruction.”— Cardinal Franz Konig, Vienna

    “A fascinating narrative and mine of historical information on Camp Dachau. As such it is not a pretty story.”—Review for Religious

     “A book proclaiming the victory of the Church and the heroism of her priests.”—Vatican Radio, 1960

    Writes Fr. Lenz: “Christ in Dachau aims to answer in the light of faith the countless vital questions with which we were constantly faced in Dachau.…This is a book written for everyday people about everyday people. It is a book about life, about priests in the service of God.” 

    80 rare and historic photographs


Product Details

H x W: 

8 3/4"  (22.2 cm) x 5 3/4"  (14.6 cm)
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