Scrapbookpages Blog

June 16, 2010

Lies told by Catholic priests who were prisoners at Dachau

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:15 pm

Let me say right off the bat that I am a “fallen away Catholic,” so I have no love for Catholic priests.  I was a devout Catholic as a child; I went to Mass every day and took Communion. By the age of 13, I was beginning to have doubts, mainly because of the behavior of some of the priests that I knew.  So I admit that I am biased on the subject of Catholic priests.

Nerin E. Gun, a Turkish journalist who was a prisoner at Dachau, wrote a book entitled The Day of the Americans, published in 1966, in which he was critical of the priests at Dachau. This was the first book that I read when I started studying Dachau in 1997. In his book, Gun pointed out that, by 1965, almost every book ever written about Dachau was written by a Catholic priest. According to Gun, the priests lived comfortably in their block and refused to let any other prisoners take refuge there. They did not work; they were not mistreated, and therefore they were able at their leisure to observe everything that went on about them and write fine books.

There were around 20 million Catholics and 20,000 Catholic priests in Nazi Germany. Hitler himself was a Catholic, as were many of the Nazis, especially in Bavaria where Dachau is located.  A total of 2,579 Catholic priests were sent to the Dachau concentration camp during its 12 year history, including 447 German priests.  A total of 1,780 Catholic priests from Poland were sent to Dachau, and 868 of them died in the camp; there were 94 German priests who died at Dachau.

The vast majority of the German clergymen and the German people, including the 40 million Protestants, went along with Hitler’s ideology and were not persecuted by the Nazis.  The Catholic priests were not sent to Dachau because they were priests, but because they were anti-Nazis; the Polish priests were arrested for helping the Polish Resistance in German-occupied Poland.

Father William J. O’Malley, S.J. wrote the following regarding the priests who were arrested and sent to Dachau because they were actively helping the underground Resistance against the German occupation of Europe:

The 156 French, 63 Dutch, and 46 Belgians were primarily interned for their work in the Underground. If that were a crime, such men as Michel Riquet, S.J., surely had little defense; he was in contact with most of the leaders of the French Resistance and was their chaplain, writing forthright editorials for the underground press, sequestering Jews, POW’s, downed Allied airmen, feeding and clothing them, providing them with counterfeit papers and spiriting them into Spain and North Africa.

Henry Zwaans, a Jesuit secondary school teacher in The Hague, was arrested for distributing copies of Bishop Von Galen’s homilies and died in Dachau of dropsy and dysentery. Jacques Magnee punished a boy for bringing anti-British propaganda into the Jesuit secondary school at Charleroi in Belgium; Leo DeConinck went to Dachau for instructing the Belgian clergy in retreat conferences to resist the Nazis.

Parish priests were arrested for quoting Pius XI’s anti-Nazi encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge, or for publicly condemning the anti-Semitic film, “The Jew Seuss,” or for providing Jews with false baptismal certificates. Some French priests at Dachau disguised themselves as workers to minister to young Frenchmen shanghaied into service in German heavy industry and had been caught doing what they had been ordained to do.

Other priests who were sent to Dachau had been arrested for child molestation or for a violation of Paragraph 175, the German law against homosexuality. The most famous priest at Dachau was Father Leonard Roth, who had to wear a black triangle because he had been arrested as a pedophile.  The street that runs along the outside of the Dachau Memorial Site is named after him.  You can read all about Father Leonard Roth here.

In his Official History of Dachau, Paul Berben, who was a prisoner himself, wrote the following about how the priests were treated differently than the other prisoners:

On 15th March 1941 the clergy were withdrawn from work Kommandos on orders from Berlin, and their conditions improved. They were supplied with bedding of the kind issued to the S.S., and Russian and Polish prisoners were assigned to look after their quarters. They could get up an hour later than the other prisoners and rest on their beds for two hours in the morning and afternoon. Free from work, they could give themselves to study and to meditation. They were given newspapers and allowed to use the library. Their food was adequate; they sometimes received up to a third of a loaf of bread a day; there was even a period when they were given half a litre of cocoa in the morning and a third of a bottle of wine daily.

David L. Israel was a soldier in 45th Thunderbird Division of the US Seventh Army during World War II.  After the Dachau concentration camp was liberated, he was assigned to interview the surviving prisoners in order to gather evidence for the war crimes trials which had already been planned.  According to David L. Israel, the Catholic priests told him a completely different version of how they were treated at Dachau.

The following quote is from David L. Israel’s book entitled The Day the Thunderbird Cried, published in 2005:

New and special tortures were devised daily for the Catholic priests. Sometimes, if they were lucky, they would be assigned to clean the dog kennels or the horse stables. On those occasions, they could sometimes get some of the leftover food which meant another day of survival. Being assigned to the pigsty was almost sure death; many of the prisoners never returned. Their bodies remained where they had been drowned in the pig swill as the SS guards looked on.

Israel did not make this up.  The Catholic priests told him these stories. Yet, when the SS staff members at Dachau were prosecuted by an American Military Tribunal in 1945, there was no testimony about the Catholic priests being given food left over from feeding the animals or drowning in the pig swill.

Among the famous Catholic priests at Dachau was Father Jean Bernard, from Luxembourg, a country that was occupied by Germany during World War II.  Father Bernard wrote a book entitled Pfarrerblock 25487 which was translated into English in 2007 under the title Priestblock 25487. The movie The Ninth Day by Volker Schlöndorff was based on a 10 day furlough that Father Bernard was given to go home when his mother died.

Father Jean Bernard was imprisoned on May 19, 1941; he was released in August 1942.  In his Dachau diary, which he published in 1945, Father Bernard wrote:

My first day at the transport commando “Präzifix”: It is March 19, 1941, the feast of St. Joseph – As we push the wagon through the door, I pray to him.

Präzifix was the name of a screw factory just outside the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate at Dachau. According to the diary that he kept at Dachau, Father Bernard was doing heavy work outside the camp on his first day there, although Paul Berben wrote that the priests were withdrawn from work on May 15, 1941 on orders from Berlin.

After reading some of the reviews of Father Bernard’s book, I decided not to read it myself.  I am afraid that the lies told by Father Bernard in his book would make my blood boil — literally.

For example, Ronald J. Rychlak wrote the following in his review of Father Bernard’s book:

There was so little food that Fr. Bernard tells of risking the ultimate punishment in order to steal and eat a dandelion from the yard. The prisoners would secretly raid the compost pile, one time relishing discarded bones that had been chewed by the dogs of Nazi officers. Another time the Nazi guards, knowing what the priests intended, urinated on the pile. For some priests, this was not enough to overcome their hunger.

Father Bernard “ate a dandelion from the yard?”  Dandelions are edible, but if there were any dandelions growing at Dachau, they would have been in the greenhouse which was located where the Protestant church now stands, or on the farm that was located outside the camp.  The “yard” at Dachau had grass and flowers, but you can be sure that the Germans, who are obsessively neat, did not allow weeds to grow among the grass and flowers. A dandelion is considered a weed when it is growing where it was not planted.

Heinrich Himmler, the head of all the concentration camps, had a degree in agriculture and he was way ahead of his time in organic gardening, so of course he was using compost at the Dachau farm.  Any Nazi guard who urinated on Himmler’s compost pile would have been severely punished.

The lie told by Father Bernard that completely totaled me out was the one about the priests’ ration of  “a third of a bottle of wine daily.”  Father Bernard wrote that the priests were forced, under threats of a beating, to uncork the wine and pour a third of the bottle into a cup, then consume the wine very quickly. He mentions an occasion in which one priest, who hesitated, had the metal cup slammed into his face, cutting through his lips and cheeks to the bone.

Why don’t I believe this story? Wine comes in one liter bottles in Germany.  A third of a liter of wine would be around 11 ounces.  Did the Nazis really supply the Catholic priests with huge cups that would hold 11 ounces, just so they could torture them?

The regular prisoners at Dachau had to drink their ersatz coffee out of a small enameled cup, and they were never allowed to drink any wine at all.  This was Father Bernard’s way of turning the privileges given to the priests at Dachau into torture.  In the Catholic Church, lies are not just sins of commission; a lie can also be a sin of omission, like failing to mention the good treatment that the priests at Dachau were given.


  1. So…you prefer to take the word of a Turk…whose people just 20 years prior killed over 1 MILLION Armenians and 600,000 Assyrians, yet today will never admit this genocide. Boy…you sure are one smart cookie (/sarcasm).

    Comment by Qualis_rex — June 22, 2015 @ 10:24 pm

  2. […] a Catholic and he never apostatized, although he never went to church in his later years.  Catholic priests were put into concentration camps, mostly at Dachau, but not because of their religion.  Jews were […]

    Pingback by Bill O’Reilly’s comments about Nazi Germany and religion | Scrapbookpages Blog — May 3, 2013 @ 11:00 am

  3. One must be careful making accusations based on something he has not read. Jean Bernard addresses the conditions of labor and the Nazi reversal of their standard. The “deal” requested by the Pope allowed for extra rations for the clergy (by the way, there were quite a few protestants in the group as well)…Fr Bernard asked about the extra rations and was told that the extra rations were used to make the other prisoners envious and turn away from the priest….a tool of manipulation to quench the hope giving nature of religion.

    Comment by William Johnson — April 25, 2012 @ 3:47 am

  4. Good treatment? Are you a fool? Study some languages so you can read more books – Polish, Czech, etc. and you will see the truth.

    You should also know that pope and bishops saved several hundred thousands of Jews. The pope even wrote encyclic against nazism, in German language, 1937.

    Hitler hated the pope ! Of course was not catholic, I have never read he attended any mass.

    Comment by veb — February 12, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  5. Want to thank all of you, for your Powerfull stand against Oboma & His Corrupted political partners.

    But there is so much more we can do. Being aggressive and focusing on the facts and truth is only the first step.

    We musT follow Up with more details standing by our convictions and dont back down.

    Oboma has NOT brought CHANGE, In fact ~! ~ THE ONLY real THING needing CHANGE !….Was Barack Hussein Obama II.


    Barack Hussein Obama II ( Who hates American Values ) who is A ” SELF PROCLAIMED Enemy” ~of responsible, Morally Conscious HARD WORKING Americans.

    oBOMAS Irresponsible & DRUG MAFIA and reckless supporters KNOW~ that Barack Hussein Obama II, WILL FORCE YOU to paY THEM, out of your PockeT .{ FOR all of their UNCHECKED Vices and THRILLS/

    { All on YOU

    / At your COST & Sacrifice

    …This UN~CHANGABLE fraud, has done His VERY BEST to Inspire VIOLENCE. THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. saying ………To his supporters.Saying “Get ready for hand-to-hand combat with your Fellow Americans”

    – Obama has ALSO DECLARED to his Supporters “I want all Americans to get in each others faces!– Obama demands !

    “You bring a knife to a fight pal, we’ll bring a gun” –

    THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. ANGER VIOLENCE and more taxes….. THIS IS OBAMAS Change for america /“Hit Back Twice As Hard”. He commands !*Obama on the private sector: ~~ “We talk to these folks…~ / so I know whose a*$ to KICK.“ OBOMA wants to KICK your a*$ /

    Shouting THAT Republican victory would mean ~ hand to hand combat”

    HE IS EXPECTING people to be on Edge and BORDERLINE killing MODE, VIOLENT / and STAND up for their immoral CAUSES and THIS IS WHAT HE LIVES FOR ./ ./ ./ THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. !

    * Obama Tells democrats: “ I’m itching for a fight.” !

    ….PLEASE…. go to reXes NEW WebsiTe ~ ! Oboma *( Just like Adolf Hitler~~\oBOMA~~~ Demands ! — [ THE FINAL SOLUTION – For Un~Wanted Children .

    Barak Obama is A MURDERER .~Torturing UNWANTED babys on DEATH ROE .


    OBAMA TAKES a little NEW BORN innocent child. BORN. ALIVE sTabS it iN the head


    This is just to wrong and horrible. Please stand for Loving Children and the USA

    Comment by ReXer Paw — January 21, 2012 @ 12:22 am

  6. From my first day in Philosophy classroom, i was taught that everyone is entitled to his point of view. A point of view cannot represent the whole truth. So whether you are a fallen catholic (which i’m sure does not call for celebration), or a practising one or even a non-catholic, truth is one and i’m sure this write-up is not that truth. Readers, beware! lest this writer transfers his venom of hatred to you.

    Comment by Kennedy — January 11, 2012 @ 4:39 am

  7. The Catholic Church has never HELPED Jews and Jews are hurting badly.

    Rome tried TO KILL Jesus at his birth under KING Herod …

    Rome continued to supress, inflict slavery and violence and murder upon the jews…

    Rome went on to kill, MURDER & Torture Jesus Christ DUE to a SMALL tinY tinY small handfull of Curent jealous and flusterated Jews ,…

    The rest of the Jews went on to WRITE the New Testament ..

    Accept & love Jesus …teaching & preaching the Gospel..

    & many Jews were not ready to accept He was their Messiah stayed back and held to their Faith..

    Rome continued to Murder Jews throughout the INQUISITIONS, crusades FORCED BAPTISm & forced conversions … and even back in the horrible MASADA….

    The pope signed a CONTRACT propagana deal with HITLER …THE vatican COMMANDED all Catholics priests to SWEAR on GOD & on the HOLY bible…….

    Complete & total loyality to Adolf Hitler…..

    Catholic Italy JOINED Hitler & Germany in WW ll …Killing MILLIONS & MILLIONS & MILLIONS more Jews ….

    The pope was completly SILENT never mentioning the Jews or asking the Italian Catholics to stop supporting Hitler in his war OR even asking the Catholic Italians to sTop killing & attacking Africa, Greece Egypt & other Southern countries…

    When the WORLDS UN….. voted for giving the HEBREWs their HOME land back for ALL jews to come home….

    The pope was again silent,,,

    WHEn the USA tried to get the JEWS addmitted into the UN… they could be heard just a littke louder….

    The pope was again silent,,,When the MUSLIMS from day 1…..threatened to PUSh the JEWS into the sea & MURDER them all……

    The pope defends the muslims claiming there should be a 2 state solution which is a death sentence for every jew in Israel…

    The catholic Church has been HIDING rape victims . Ordering silence of the victims & the rapists…..

    Jews do not like being raped….and are so tired of it…..

    .& the popes & ROME & Catholic religion has raped them since before the 1 st century…

    HOW WOULD U FEEl about ROME if U wer a hebrew ?

    Comment by reXteryalizer — February 19, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  8. I stopped reading this article when the writer stated that Hitler was a Catholic. Sometimes Hitler told people this to get them on his side, but he did not practice the faith, advocated a form of racist Paganism and certainly did not follow the teachings of Christ. If the writer of the article can fall for this easily refuted lie, then how much of the rest of this piece is accurate?

    Comment by Robert — January 18, 2011 @ 10:25 am

    • A “Catholic” is a person who was baptized in the Catholic faith. A non-practicing Catholic is still called a Catholic. It was Himmler who promoted Paganism, not Hitler. Hitler did not apostasize, meaning that he did not renounce the Catholic faith. He was never ex-communicated by the Catholic church, so he is properly called a Catholic.

      Comment by furtherglory — January 18, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  9. most wine glasses have very thin structure and i bet that they break easily not unless they are made of quartz glass .,.

    Comment by Movies Forum — December 3, 2010 @ 7:59 am

  10. Always, why all the hate?

    Comment by sjones — June 16, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

    • I don’t know why the Catholic priests had so much hatred for the German people that they told lies which are still causing people to hate the Germans 65 years later.

      Comment by furtherglory — June 16, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

      • Germans were complacent in World War II. They knew what was going on with the Jewish population and did nothing to stop it. Give me a break, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Know-it-all. Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer.

        Comment by sjones — June 17, 2010 @ 7:33 pm


          you LIE…

          HITLER SAID “”””” I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.”

          ( Adolf Hitler, from John Toland [Pulitzer Prize winner], Adolf Hitler, New York: Anchor Publishing, 1992, p. 507. )

          ———————HITLER SAID———————————————————–

          May God Almighty give our work His blessing, strengthen our purpose, and endow us with wisdom and the trust of our people, for we are fighting not for ourselves but for Germany.”

          ( Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered at Berlin, February 1, 1933; from Adolf Hitler, My New Order. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 147. )

          HITLER SAID

          “The judgment whether a people is virtuous or not virtuous can hardly be passed by a human being. That should be left to God.”

          ( Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered at Wilhelmshaven, April 1, 1939; from Adolf Hitler, My New Order. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 621. )




          Comment by reX — October 6, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: