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February 18, 2016

The ignominious way that Catholic priests were treated by the Nazis

My photo of the gate into the Dachau camp

My photo of the gate into the Dachau camp where Catholic priests were held

The photo above shows the gate into the Dachau concentration camp, which was the main camp where Catholic priests were imprisoned.

One of the regular readers of my blog wrote a comment which I am quoting:

I was also thinking about Catholics v Jews — Poland is a very Catholic country, and they would like a lot more (international) attention paid to eg the Nazi persecution of the Catholic Church and priests in Poland during WWII, including at Auschwitz: At least 1811 Polish clergy died in Nazi Concentration Camps. An estimated 3000 clergy were killed in all.

I read the article about the Polish clergy and found that no reliable source was given.  The source of the information about the priests was this:

The information for the Wikipedia article came from Ian Kershaw and Ann A Pawelcz 1980 Values and Violence In Auschwitz: A Sociological Analysis

An altar used by Catholic priests at Dachau

An altar used by Catholic priests who were held in the bunker at Dachau

I have previously written about the Catholic priests on at least two blog posts:

I also blogged about the famous story of “the 9th day” which involved a priest at Dachau:

Dachau was the main camp where 2,720 clergymen were sent, including 2,579 Catholic Priests. The priests at Dachau were separated from the other prisoners and housed together in several barrack buildings in the rear of the camp.

There were 1,780 Polish priests and 447 German priests at Dachau. Of the 1,034 priests who died in the camp, 868 were Polish and 94 were German. Source: “What was it like in the Concentration Camp at Dachau?” by Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler.

Other clergymen at Dachau included 109 Protestant ministers, 22 Greek Orthodox, 2 Muslims and 8 men who were classified as “Old Catholic and Mariaists.”

Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler, an auxiliary Bishop from Munich, was one of the 8 clergymen at Dachau who had a private cell in the bunker, the camp prison building. He was free to leave his cell and walk around the camp. He could also receive visitors from outside the camp.

The worst thing that happened to Dr. Neuhäusler at Dachau was that he was once punished by being confined indoors in the bunker for a week. He was punished for secretly hearing the confession of a former Italian minister who had just arrived at the bunker the day before.

Dr. Neuhäusler wrote in his book entitled “What was it like in the Concentration Camp at Dachau?” that he had been betrayed by a Bible inquirer (Jehovah’s Witness) who worked as the Hausl (housekeeper) in the bunker.

Dr. Neuhäusler did not mention any ill treatment at Dachau but he did write about how he was beaten when he was initially sent to the Sachsenhausen camp.

Catholic priests had private cells in the Dachau bunker

Catholic priests had private prison cells in the Dachau bunker

The main camp, to which the Catholic priests were sent, was the Dachau concentration camp. The first clergymen to arrive at Dachau were Polish priests who were sent there in 1939. The Polish priests had been arrested for helping the Polish Resistance after Poland had been conquered in only 28 days.

The Catholic priests were not sent to Dachau just because they were priests. Catholics and Protestants alike were arrested as “enemies of the state” but only if they preached against the Nazi government.

An important policy of the Nazi party in Germany was called Gleichschaltung, a term that was coined in 1933 to mean that all German culture, religious practice, politics, and daily life should conform with Nazi ideology. This policy meant total control of thought, belief, and practice and it was used to systematically eradicate all anti-Nazi elements after Hitler came to power.

There were around 20 million Catholics and 20,000 priests in Nazi Germany. 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.

Bishop Franciszek Korczynski from Wloclawek, Poland published a book in 1957, entitled “Jasne promienie w Dachau” (Bright Beams in Dachau) in which he claimed that the extermination of the Polish clergy was planned by the Nazis as part of the liquidation of the Polish intelligentsia. He wrote that the priests at Dachau were starved and tortured and that the Nazis used the priests for medical experiments.

Among the priests at Dachau, one of the first Polish prisoners was Archbishop Kozlowiecki who had been arrested on November 10, 1939 in Krakow. According to a speech which he gave when the Catholic Memorial at Dachau was dedicated in 1960, the Archbishop was held in prison for the next five and a half years: three months in Montelupi prison in Krakow, five months in Wisnicz concentration camp in Poland, six months in Auschwitz and four years and four months at Dachau.

In his speech, Archbishop Kozlowiecki said that the Gestapo never gave him a reason for his arrest. As quoted in the book “What was it like in the Concentration Camp at Dachau?” Archbishop Kozlowiecki said that a watchman once gave him a reason: “Because you have an ideology which we do not like.”

Although Archbishop Kozlowiecki did not mention, in his speech, any atrocities that he had endured at Dachau, he did say “For years every dark morning we got up with this horrible feeling of agony and absolute helplessness; it was with a heavy and trembling heart that we went to the morning inspection and to our work.”

Theodore Koch, a Polish priest who was a Dachau prisoner from October 1941 to April 1945, testified at the American Military Tribunal proceedings against the Dachau staff that the prisoners had to do exercises as punishment. According to Koch, the prisoners had to jump, do knee-bends, and other gymnastics, including running on their knees. Koch testified that from Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday, the priests had to go through exercises on the roll call place from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. except for a break for dinner. Koch claimed that many priests died during and after these exercises.

The first German priest to enter Dachau in 1940 was Father Franz Seitz, according to Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler, who wrote a small book about Dachau. The first priests were put into Block 26, but it soon became over crowded because “practically all the priests interned in the camp at Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg were transferred to Dachau, especially many hundreds of Polish clergymen,” according to Dr. Neuhäusler.

Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler wrote, in his book, that an emergency chapel was set up in Block 26 and on January 20, 1941 the first Mass was celebrated. “Some 200 priests stood enraptured before the altar while one of their comrades, wearing white vestments offered up the Holy Sacrifice.”

In 1940, the German bishops and the Pope had persuaded Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler to concentrate all the priests imprisoned in the various concentration camps into one camp, and to house them all together in separate blocks with a chapel where they could say Mass.

In early December 1940, the priests already in Dachau were put into Barracks Block 26 near the end of the camp street. Within two weeks, they were joined by around 800 to 900 priests from Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz and other camps, who were put into Blocks 28 and 30. Block 30 was later converted into an infirmary barrack.

At first, the priests at Dachau were given special privileges such as a ration of wine, a loaf of bread for four men, and individual bunk beds. The priests were not required to work and they were allowed to celebrate Mass.

In October 1941, these privileges were taken away. Only the German priests were now allowed to say Mass. All non-German clergymen, including Poles, Dutchmen, Luxembourgers and Belgians, were removed from Block 26 and sent to Block 28. A wire fence was placed around Block 28 and a sentry stood guard. The non-German priests were now forced to work, just like the rest of the prisoners. Allegedly, this change happened because the Pope had made a speech on the radio in which he condemned the Nazis, and the German bishops had made a public protest about the treatment of the priests.

Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler wrote the following in his book entitled “What was it like in the Concentration Camp at Dachau?”:

To prevent the non-German priests from even looking into the chapel from their nearby block, a thick white paint was spread over the chapel windows. The commanding officer of Block 28 forbade the prisoners all practice of religion and threatened severe penalties for any breach of rule. The prisoners were forced to give up all breviaries, rosaries, etc.

During the time that the Polish priests were not allowed to say Mass, they asked the priest from Block 26, who was in charge of the chapel, to give them hosts and wine so they could celebrate Mass in secret, according to Dr. Neuhäusler. The Polish priests who worked on the plantation (farm) at Dachau would kneel on the ground and pretend to be weeding. They had a small portable altar which one of the priests would press into the ground. The priests would knell down and receive Communion from their own hands.

On Christmas Eve in 1941, after 322 days without Mass, Dr. Neuhäusler was allowed to say Mass in a temporary Chapel in one of the cells of the bunker where he was a prisoner. He had received everything necessary for the mass from Cardinal Dr. Michael Faulhaber in Munich, who sent regular packages to Dachau right up to the day the camp was liberated.


January 2, 2014

Changes in the Dachau gas chamber story over the years

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:10 am

A reader of my blog provided a link to a page, captured by the “wayback machine,” which shows what a famous Dachau website looked like years ago.  You can see it for yourself at

The website, shown in the link, was one of the first websites about Dachau, if not THE first.

This quote is from an “essay” written by Harry W. Mazal OBE, which was published, many years ago, on the website, cited above:

A larger room adjacent to the four disinfestation chambers is also a gas chamber but this one was designed specifically for homicidal purposes. Any doubts that this chamber is a gas chamber are rapidly dispelled upon viewing the exhaust vents on the ceiling of the room <photo 31>, the exhaust chimney on the roof <photo 32>, and the metal doors that are identical in design to those used by the disinfestation gas chambers <photo 33> <photo 34>. It would appear that the fake shower heads on the ceiling of the chamber <photo 35>, the sign over the door stating Brausebad (shower room) <photo 36> and the smooth brick finish simulating tiling (see <photo 41> below) were part of an elaborate ploy to make the victims believe they were going to take a bath after having deposited their clothes in the passageway connecting the disinfestation chambers with the homicidal chamber.

Most people have never had the opportunity to see a real homicidal gas chamber, which was used to execute condemned criminals.  I am from Missouri, one of the few places which has a real gas chamber, which I saw when I was about 12 years old.

Mazal’s photo 32, which shows “the exhaust chimney on the roof” is shown below.

Harry Mazal's photo of the exhaust pipe on the roof of the Dachau gas chamber

Harry Mazal’s photo of the exhaust pipe on the roof of  gas chamber

40 ft. pipe on the roof of the Missouri gas chamber

40 ft. exhaust pipe on the roof of the Missouri gas chamber

According to Fred Leuchter, who was a consultant for the Missouri gas chamber, until his career was ruined, a homicidal gas chamber must have a 40 foot gas pipe.  Leuchter does not have a degree in Engineering, so what does he know?

This quote is also from Harry Hazal’s website:

The question arises of the difference between the method of dispensing of Zyklon-B to the disinfestation chambers and to the extermination chamber. Quite simply: the exposure time and concentration of hydrogen cyanide gas for killing insects is considerably higher than that which is needed to kill humans. According to the manufacturers of the product, it only requires 0.3 grams per cubic meter to kill human beings, whereas concentrations of up to 10 grams per cubic meter were routinely employed to destroy insects. 22 The relative ease with which it is possible to kill humans with low concentrations of hydrogen cyanide makes it simpler and less expensive to use the drawer-like bins in the homicidal chamber rather than to use the costly Degesch dispensers. Additionally, the bins would allow for other volatile poisons to be employed as suggested by Rascher in his letter to Himmler.

The photo below shows “the drawer-like bins” mentioned by Mazal on his website.

photo 39 on Harry Hazal's website shows the "drawer-like bins" used to put the gas pellets into the Dachau gas chamber

photo 39 on Harry Hazal’s website shows the “drawer-like bins” used to put the gas pellets into the Dachau gas chamber (photo taken by Daniel Karen)

The original caption on the photo above: “Close-up view of bin-like drawer designed to introduce lethal poisons into the homicidal chamber. Note hinges on bottom allowing the device to rock in or out. (Photo by Dr. Daniel Keren.)”

To his credit, Harry Mazal quotes from a small book written by Bishop Neuhäusler, which was first published in June 1960:

Bishop Neuhäusler, for example, states:

Also behind the wire fence was the camp crematorium. At first it was housed in a wooden barrack, later in a stone building built by Polish Catholic priests, to whom the building trade had been taught. This crematorium was located in a small forest on the west side quite close to the camp. The prevailing wind was from the west and consequently the smell of burning corpses filled the camp, reminding of their approaching end and adding immeasurably to their despair.

With the new crematorium a gas chamber was also connected. The whole construction of the crematorium with its gas chamber was completed in 1943. It contained an ‘undressing room’, a ‘shower bath’, and a ‘mortuary’. The showers were metal traps which had no pipelines for a supply of poisonous gas. This gas chamber was never set in action in Dachau. Only the dead were brought to the crematorium for ‘burning’, no living for ‘gassing’. 25

The quote above is from page 17 of a small 82 page booklet by Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler, which I purchased at the Dachau Memorial Site in 2001.  It was the 2000 edition of his booklet entitled “What was it like in the Concentration Camp at Dachau? An Attempt to Come Closer to the Truth”

Dr. Neuhäusler was an Auxiliary Bishop of Munich.  I wrote about him and the other Catholic priests, who were prisoners at Dachau at

After writing that “no living” prisoners were brought to the crematorium “for gassing,” Dr. Neuhäusler went on to say, in his booklet, that prisoners at Dachau were taken to Hartheim Castle near Linz, Austria, to be gassed.  You can read about the gas chamber at Hartheim Castle on my website at

When I visited Dachau for the first time in 1997, I spent a lot of time in the Dachau Museum, which has since been changed at least twice.  In the original Museum, I recall reading that sick prisoners were sent to Hartheim Castle to be gassed to death, but first a doctor had to sign the order for the prisoner to be sent to Hartheim, giving the cause of the fatal illness that warranted a merciful death for the prisoner.

The fact that prisoners from Dachau were sent to Hartheim to be gassed indicates that there was no homicidal gas chamber at Dachau — until the shower room was converted into a gas chamber by the Americans who liberated Dachau.  I blogged about the Dachau gas chamber film that was shown at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal at

I have written about the Dachau gas chamber on my website at

Harry Mazal is now deceased, but if he were still alive today, would he still claim that the shower room at Dachau was a homicidal gas chamber?  Tour guides at Dachau now tell gullible teenagers that the Dachau gas chamber was used, although not for “mass gassing.”

May 19, 2013

Did a 62-year-old nun with a slegdehammer really make an opening in a guard tower at Dachau for a door into a nunnery?

Earlier today, I wrote a long comment on my blog about a blog post written by another blogger.  My new post today is a continuation of my criticism of what my fellow blogger wrote. I am writing about how the Carmelite convent, just outside of the Dachau Memorial Site, was built.

A Catholic convent was built just outside the north wall of the Dachau camp

A Catholic convent was built just outside the north wall of the Dachau camp

The Carmelite Convent, called Karmel Heilig-Blut, was designed by Josef Wiedemann, the same architect who designed the Catholic Church and its bell tower. The foundation stone was laid by Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler, a former inmate in the camp, at a ceremony on April 28, 1963. The spot where the convent was built was formerly a pond that was filled with gravel when the Nazis rebuilt the camp in 1937. Construction started in August 1963 and the finished convent was dedicated on November 22, 1964.

This quote is from the blog post which you can read in full here:

To leave things on a slightly less depressing note (although I feel like a post about Dachau is allowed–nay, expected–to be a downer), in the years since the war, a convent has been built adjacent to the camp grounds.The sisters wanted the entrance gate to the convent to be through one of the old guard towers at the far end of the camp, near the various religious monuments, but the Powers That Be (the earthly ones, I mean) kept saying no. “The problem was solved,” our guide told us, “by a sixty-two-year-old nun with a sledgehammer”–thus confirming my belief in the inherent badassery of nuns everywhere. The power of Christ compels you, indeed.

No legal action was taken against the nun; a group of Roma people (gypsies) backed her up and lent their support to the convent’s unorthodox building plans. And the gate to the convent remains there (after a bit of touching up…sledgehammer holes aren’t that pretty) to this day, a symbol that Dachau is no longer an enclosed prison, but an open memorial site.

There may have been a nun wielding a sledgehammer, but I am guessing that the nun was allowed to make the first hole in a guard tower at Dachau, in a symbolic ceremony in 1963, when one of the original guard towers at Dachau was remodeled to make an entrance into the Catholic convent.

Entrance into the convent is through a guard tower

Entrance into the convent is through a guard tower

After Dachau was liberated, the “Powers That Be” were the members of the International Committee of Dachau which is still, to this day, in charge of the Dachau Memorial Site.  Just before the acting Commandant, Martin Gottfried Weiss, left the Dachau camp in April 1945, when the American liberators were on their way, he turned the camp over to this Committee, which was headed by Albert Guérisse, a British SOE agent who had been imprisoned at Dachau because he was an illegal combatant, aiding the French Resistance.

The man in charge of the construction of a convent at Dachau was Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler. As a former inmate in the Dachau camp, he headed the projects to build both the convent and the Church of the Mortal Agony of Christ, which was the very first memorial built at Dachau.

When the American liberators arrived at Dachau on April 29, 1945, the majority of the prisoners in the camp were Polish Catholics. According to the US Army census, there were 2,539 Jews in the camp, most of them having arrived in the last days and weeks of the war, after being evacuated from other camps.

A Catholic church was the first memorial built at Dachau

A Catholic church was the first memorial built at Dachau

The name of the Catholic chapel at Dachau is Todeangst Christi. It is usually translated in English as “Mortal Agony of Christ” although the literal translation of the German title would be “Christ’s Mortal Anxiety.” The church was built in 1960 at the instigation of Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler, a former inmate of the camp who became a Bishop in Munich after the war. Neuhäusler had been arrested in 1941 for breaking one of the laws of the Nazi government by publicly reading the critical writings of Cardinal Faulhaber, who opposed the Nazi regime. He was first taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for political prisoners near Berlin and then transferred to Dachau a few months later.

The guard towers at Dachau were torn down after the camp was liberated; the guard towers that you see there today are reconstructions, except for the guard tower which has a door into the Catholic convent, which is the only original tower.

When the Dachau concentration camp was in operation, there were no doors into the guard towers from inside the camp, since this would have allowed the prisoners to break into the towers and kill the guards.

Door into the Catholic Convent at Dachau is through a guard tower

Door into the Catholic Convent at Dachau is through a guard tower

The guard tower, which is now an entrance to the Catholic convent, had to be remodeled to make a door from the Dachau Memorial Site into the convent.  There may have been a ceremony when this door was created.  I can see Neuhäusler handing a sledgehammer to the oldest nun and giving her the honor of making the first blow in the construction of  a new door into the guard tower.

The Jewish Memorial at Dachau was not built until 1967.  It is very close to the Catholic convent, and the Jews have complained about the tiny cross on the convent building, but the cross is still there.

Jewish Memorial at Dachau is very close to the Catholic convent

Jewish Memorial at Dachau is very close to the Catholic convent

Tiny cross on Catholic convent offends the Jews

Tiny cross on Catholic convent offends the Jews

Note the contrast between the Catholic convent and the Jewish Memorial. One is dark and ominous, and the other is light and welcoming.

The Dachau Memorial site has turned into a memorial to the Jews.  Tourists go there to pay their respects to the Jews who died in the Holocaust.  The fact that Dachau was a camp mainly for political prisoners, who were predominantly Catholic, has been completely lost.  The former shower room at Dachau is now explained away as a place where the Nazis tested gassing methods.  The gas chamber is the linchpin of the Holocaust and you can’t have a Memorial to the Jews without a gas chamber.

May 16, 2011

What does it take to become a saint in Germany?

Deutsche Welle ran this story today, 16 May 2011:

Catholic Church beatifies Nazi-resisting priest

A priest who defied the Nazis by continuing to practice Roman Catholicism despite a ban has been beatified by the Catholic church. Georg Häfner died in a concentration camp for his resistance to the Nazi regime.

Beatification is the first step toward sainthood.  But first, the person has to be declared a martyr. I found out from this website why Georg Häfner qualifies as a martyr:

Sixty-eight years after he died of starvation and disease at Dachau, early on this “Good Shepherd Sunday” brought the beatification of the German priest Georg Haefner, whose death at the hands of the Nazis was judged to be “in odium fidei” — out of “hatred for the faith” — and, thus, has seen his designation as a martyr.

Häfner wasn’t killed at Dachau, but he did die “at the hands of the Nazis” because of the Nazi “hatred for the faith.”

According to the book entitled What was it like in the Concentration Camp at Dachau? by Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler, who was also a prisoner at Dachau, there was a total of 2,720 clergymen at Dachau, including 2,579 Catholic Priests. According to Dr. Neuhäusler, there were 447 German priests at Dachau. Of the 1,034 priests who died in the camp, 94 were German.  So Häfner was one of only 447 priests, out of a total of 20,000 German priests, who was sent to Dachau and one out of 94 that died. What did he do to be singled out for persecution by the Nazis?

According to Deutsche Welle, “Häfner was honored by the church for his resistance to Nazi rule. Despite a ban on continuing to practice his religious duties as a priest in Oberschwarzach, which is near Würzburg, Häfner carried on and was arrested by the Nazis in 1941.”

This sounds like there was a ban on all priests in Nazi Germany, which prevented them from practicing the Catholic religion, but that is not the case. According to this website, “Häfner’s reported offense was to preach against the rise of the Third Reich.” So, the truth is that he was banned from “practicing the Catholic religion” because he was preaching against the government.  The priests who didn’t preach against the government were free to practice the Catholic religion with the blessing of Hitler, who was a Catholic.

Of course, Germany is now a free country, a democracy, where everyone has the right of free speech and Catholic clergymen can say anything they want, right?  If you believe that, do a search on “Bishop Richard Williamson.”  He is due to go on trial in July for “Holocaust denial.”  He will automatically be convicted because there is no defense against a charge of “Holocaust denial.”  He will go to prison and if he dies there, he will be a martyr.  He could be the first person to become a Catholic saint for saying what he believes, in defiance of the German government.