Stevens, were arrested in a sting operation at the Cafe Bacchus near Venlo in the Netherlands, feet from the German border. According to Nerin E.
Gun, the British had been contacted previously by a German anti-Nazi named Dr. Franz who told them that some German officers were planning a revolt and wanted the support of Great Britain. The following quote is from "The Day of the Americans": British Intelligence agents were to meet there at the Cafe with a group of German conspirators, including a Wehrmacht general, who had tried to overthrow the regime. It had first been planned that Hitler himself, made prisoner by the general, would be turned over, bound hand and foot, to the men who came there from The Hague.
This fantastic plot had been afoot since the first days of September, right after war broke out. Captain preferring to be called Mister S. Payne Best, whose functions within the British Intelligence service remain shadowy even today, but about whom we can guess that he was head of its European network, had been contacted by a German anti-Nazi emigre, Dr. Some German officers, Franz had told him, were planning a revolt and wanted the support of Great Britain.
Best asked the home office to give him competent military advice. They sent him Major R. Since it was an important affair, at least in the imagination of the British, the head of the Dutch Secret Service, Major General van Oorscholt, had also been brought in on it.
The latter respected the obligations of neutrality in his own way, and did not hesitate to plunge into this international intrigue, which had the earmarks of a Hollywood thriller. Gun's book, the plot was to capture Hitler, smuggle him across the German border to Venlo and then sneak him onto a submarine anchored outside of Rotterdam. On the morning of November 9th, the German radio announced the failed attempt on Hitler's life, but Captain Payne Best assumed that this was a ruse designed to explain the disappearance of Hitler whom he believed was already in the hands of the plotters.
There was an actual person named Schaemmel, in case the British checked him out. After the arrest of Captain S. Payne Best and Major Richard H. Stevens, Hitler came to the conclusion that the failed assassination had been planned by the British in an attempt to overthrow the government of Germany.
The following quote is from the memoirs of Walter Schellenberg, entitled "The Labyrinth": He Hitler began to issue detailed directives on the handling of the case to Himmler, Heydrich, and me and gave releases to the press. To my dismay, he became increasingly convinced that the attempt on his life had been the work of the British Intelligence, and that Best and Stevens, working together with Otto Strasser, were the real organizers of this crime the assassination attempt.
Otto Strasser was a left-wing politician who had formed his own faction within the Nazi Party, along with his brother, Gregor Strasser. After he was expelled from the Nazi party by Hitler in , Otto Strasser formed an organization called the "Black Front.
Georg Elser had worked for a time as a carpenter in Switzerland. The quote from the memoirs of Schellenberg continues as follows: Meanwhile a carpenter by the name of Elser had been arrested while trying to escape over the Swiss border. The circumstantial evidence against him was very strong, and finally he confessed.
He had built an explosive mechanism into one of the wooden pillars of the Beer Cellar. It consisted of an ingeniously worked alarm clock which could run for three days and set off the explosive charge at any given time during that period.
Elser stated that he had first undertaken the scheme entirely on his own initiative, but that later on two other persons had helped him and had promised to provide him with a refuge abroad afterward. He insisted, however, that the identity of neither of them was known to him.
I thought it possible that the "Black Front" organization of Otto Strasser might have something to do with the matter and that the British Secret Service might also be involved. But to connect Best and Stevens with the Beer Cellar attempt on Hitler's life seemed to me quite ridiculous.
Nevertheless that was exactly what was in Hitler's mind. He announced to the press that Elser and the officers of the British Secret Service would be tried together. In high places there was talk of a great public trial, to be staged with the full orchestra of the propaganda machine, for the benefit of the German people.
I tried to think of the best way to prevent this lunacy. Schellenberg mentioned in his memoir that Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, had told him that "there is no possibility of any connection between Elser and Best and Stevens. One other clue that Himmler confided to Schellenberg was that "our technical men are practically certain that the explosives and the fuses used in the bomb were made abroad.
Heinrich Himmler stands behind Hitler, Nürnberg rally, The Gestapo went to great lengths to get more information out of Elser, but to no avail. They tried drugs and hypnosis, but he would not reveal the names of the two men who had helped him. He confessed to planting the bomb, but claimed that he did not know the names of his two accomplices.
When Elser was captured, he was found to be carrying various incriminating pieces of evidence. The following quote is from "Hitler's War": On the night of November 13 this man, Georg Elser, a thirty-six-year-old Swabian watchmaker, confessed that he had single-handedly designed, built, and installed a time bomb in the pillar.
In his pockets were found a pair of pliers, sketches of grenade and fuse designs, pieces of a fuse, a picture postcard of the Bürgerbräu hall's interior; a badge of the former "Red Front" Communist movement was found concealed under his lapel. Under Gestapo interrogation a week later the whole story came out-how he had joined the Red Front ten years before but had long lost interest in politics, and how he had been angered by the regimentation of labor and religion as well as by the relative pauperization of craftsmen such as himself in the early years of Nazi rule.
The year before he had resolved to dispose of Adolf Hitler and had begun work on an ingenious time-bomb controlled by two clock-mechanisms for added reliability. After thirty nights of arduous chiseling at the pillar behind the paneling, he installed the preset clocks in one last session on the night of November 5, the evening after Hitler's furious altercation with Brauchitsch in Berlin.
The mechanism was soundproofed in cork to prevent the ticking from being heard, and Elser's simple pride in his craftsmanship was evident from the records of his interrogations. According to William L. Shirer, in his book entitled "The Nightmare Years: Himmler said, according to Shirer, that Elser had been aided and abetted by two British secret agents, Captain S. Payne Best and Major R. Shirer wrote that Georg Elser was treated very well after he was imprisoned, but he was eventually murdered by order of Heinrich Himmler.
The following quote is from Shirer's book "The Nightmare Years: But Himmler kept his eye on him. It would never do to let the carpenter survive, if the war were lost, to tell his tale. When it the war became irretrievably lost, the Gestapo chief Müller acted. On April 16, , as the end of the Third Reich neared, it was announced that Elser had been killed in an Allied bombing attack. Actually, Himmler had him murdered by the Gestapo. Curiously, Himmler had allowed Captain S. Stevens to live to tell their tale.
Just as there were people who immediately claimed that the Reichstag fire on the night of February 27, was an inside job, perpetrated by the Nazis themselves, there were journalists, including Ernest R. Pope, who immediately speculated that the bomb set off in the Bürgerbräukeller was put there by the Nazis. The following quote is from an article written by journalist Ernest R.
Pope, which is included in a book entitled "They were There" by Curt Riess: There were many telltale indications that the Munich explosion was an inside Nazi job. My own opinion is that the Bürgerbräu explosion was a job inspired by Goebbels and executed by Himmler in order to make the Germans hate the British.
The jubilation over the Polish conquest had expired, there was a dismal stalemate on the western front, and the disgruntled Germans were beginning to grumble more audibly about the blackout, the rationed food, and the freezing temperatures in their homes. They were still angry at Hitler for plunging their country into war, and had not yet been seriously bombed or attacked by the Allies, so had no reason to hate England. The Munichers especially remembered Chamberlain vividly as their angel of peace.
Goebbels thought that six dead, petty Brown Shirts and one Munich waitress was a bargain price to pay for getting obstinate Germans to curse the British Prime Minister. The 8th victim of the blast died after the above news article was written. The next day after the bomb blast, the only newspaper to cover the story was Hitler's own paper, the Voelkischer Beobachter, according to William L.
Shirer wrote in his diary on the evening of November 9th: Most of us think it smells of another Reichstag fire. An hour or two after the bomb went off in Munich, Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS and the Gestapo, telephoned to one of his rising young subordinates, Walter Schellenberg at Duesseldorf and ordered him by command of the Fuehrer, to cross the border into Holland the next day and kidnap two British secret-service agents with whom Schellenberg had been in contact.
Up to this moment, the objectives of the two sides were clear. The British were trying to establish direct contact with the German military putschists in order to encourage and aid them.
Himmler was attempting to find out through the British who the German plotters were and what their connection was to the enemy secret service. That Himmler and Hitler were already suspicious of some of the generals as well as men like Oster and Canaris of the Abwehr is clear. But now on the night of November 8, Hitler and Himmler found need of a new objective: Kidnap Best and Stevens and blame these two British secret-service agents for the Buergerbräu bombing!
After their arrest at Venlo, Captain S. Stevens were both sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where Georg Elser was soon to become a prisoner in Cell No. In January , Major Richard H. Stevens was moved to the bunker at Dachau where he remained until the VIP prisoners were evacuated on April 26, Room where Richard H. Stevens was a prisoner at Dachau, to According to Captain S.
Payne Best, Georg Elser had been sent to the Dachau concentration camp prior to the assassination attempt. He had been arrested for being "anti-social" and "workshy," according to Payne Best. The following quote about Elser's time in Dachau is from "The Venlo Incident" by Captain Payne Best, who claimed that he learned this information from Elser himself in letters that he secretly passed to Payne Best at Sachsenhausen: One day early in October he Elser was called to the Kommandantur at Dachau where he was interviewed by two men who asked him a number of questions about his antecedents, and in particular about the names of former associates and relations.
As for the latter he had none as far as he knew and friends, well he knew them as Paul, Heinz, or Karl, just as they knew him as the little Georg - surnames were not much used in the circles he had frequented. A week or two later he was again called for and again met the same two men. On the first occasion he had been questioned while standing at attention, but this time he was taken into another office, was told to sit down, and was given a cigarette.
The men were extremely friendly, told him that the commandant had shown them some of his work and that really it was a shame that so good a workman should be wasting his life in a concentration camp. Would he not like to regain his freedom? To this suggestion Elser expressed cordial agreement. Well, this could easily be arranged if he would only be absolutely discreet and obey orders without question; all that they wanted from him was that he should do a little job in his own line, and when this was finished he would be handsomely rewarded and sent to Switzerland where he would be free to live as he liked and hold whatever opinions he pleased.
As Elser put it: If I had refused, I should certainly have gone up the chimney that evening. I do not know whether it was on this or on a later occasion that he was told the story of a plot against Hitler in which some of his closest associates were involved. Hitler was to speak at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich on 8th November in commemoration of his comrades who fell during the Putsch, when he made his first attempt to overthrow the government.
After Hitler had finished speaking it was his custom to stay a while talking to his old associates, and certain scoundrelly traitors had conceived the plan of hustling him to one side and shooting him. Although the names of the people involved in the plot were known it was not considered advisable to arrest them, as this would occasion a big scandal which, now, in war-time, must be avoided, and it was therefore intended to adopt other measures to liquidate the traitors.
The idea was to build an infernal machine in one of the pillars in the cellar which could be exploded immediately the Führer left the building, which he would do directly his speech was finished; in this way all the conspirators would be exterminated, lock, stock, and barrel, and no one need hear anything more about their plot. Elser was not such a fool really to believe that after he had been told so much he would be set free or even left alive, but since it was a question of certain immediate death or liquidation at some uncertain future date, he naturally promised to do what was required of him.
After this interview Elser was not allowed to return to his old quarters in the camp, but was put in a comfortable cell in a building used to house important political prisoners. Here, instead of his striped prison garb, he was given civilian clothes, and he was also brought good food and as many cigarettes as he wished. Next day, as he expressed a desire to finish some work which he had on hand, a carpenters' bench was brought to a large cell in the building and he was given his tools.
In the first week of November Elser was on two occasions fetched at nightfall by the same two men and taken by car to the Bürgerbräukeller where he was shown the pillar into which the bomb was to be built.
This pillar was covered with an ornamental wood panelling over bricks, so all that he had to do was remove part of the panelling and extract a couple of bricks. Into the recess thus formed, he inserted the explosive, which was of a putty-like nature, the inside of an alarm clock, and a fuse. From the fuse he was instructed to make an electric lead to a push button in an alcove near the street level entrance to the building.
The whole job was to him mere child's play and he was at a loss to understand why such a fuss had been made about it. I took a great deal of trouble to get from Elser the clearest possible description of the bomb, and from what he wrote it was quite clear that the clock, which he called an ordinary Swiss alarm, had nothing to do with the fuse which could only be actuated by electric current applied from outside.
With the Poles in Block 28 it was different: From March , all priests could officiate at mass, and in , masses were held each Sunday, officiated by all nationalities and the chapel was also used by other denominations. In December , Karl Leisner , a deacon from Münster who was dying of tuberculosis received his ordination at Dachau.
Gabriel Piguet , Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand had arrived at the camp in September and was able to organise for the necessary documents. The necessary objects of worship were secretly scrounged, a bishop's cross, mitre, cassock and cape were improvised and Piquet presided at the secret ceremony, enabling Leisner to say his first mass.
The new priest died soon after the liberation of the camp. The Nazis introduced a racial hierarchy — keeping Poles in harsh conditions, while favouring German priests. Inadequately clothed for the bitter cold, of this group only 82 survived. A large number of Polish priests were chosen for Nazi medical experiments.
In November , 20 were given phlegmons. Several Poles met their deaths with the "invalid trains" sent out from the camp, others were liquidated in the camp and given bogus death certificates. Some died of cruel punishment for misdemeanors — beaten to death or run to exhaustion. Polish priests were not permitted religious activity. Anti-religious prisoners were planted in the Polish block to watch that the rule was not broken, but some found ways to circumvent the prohibition: By , conditions had been relaxed and Poles could hold a weekly service.
Eventually, they were allowed to attend the chapel, with Germany's hopes of victory in the war fading. Exhausted by forced labour and facing malnutrition, inmates were forced to sweep heavy snow. Hundreds died in Blocks 26, 28 and Clergy — even the younger Germans — were set to work in plantage, clothe repair and some in office work. The arrival of a new commandant improved conditions from August of that year.
Food parcels were permitted for clergy — and these came from family, parishioners and church groups, enabling secret distribution to other prisoners, but the relative comfort afforded to the priests angered ordinary prisoners. Some priests distributed their food — others hoarded it. The food parcels ceased in , as Germany's communications decayed in the final stages of the war, though German priests continued to receive extra food tickets. The clergy were excluded from administrative posts in the camp until — unsympathetic prisoners were awarded the posts prior to this.
From , clergy could work as nurses and provide spiritual aid to the sick — some consequently falling victim to infectious diseases. According to Ronald Rychlak the clergy prisoners were treated marginally better than other prisoners, however treatment worsened in the wake of Papal or episcopal announcements critical of the Nazi regime, such as Pope Pius XII's Christmas address.
One Easter, the guards marked Good Friday by torturing 60 priests. Tying their hands behind their backs, chaining their wrists, and hoisting them up by the chains — tearing joints apart and killing and disabling several of the priests. The threat of further torture was used to keep the priests obedient. Food was so lacking, that prisoners would retrieve scraps from the compost pile. An Austrian priest, Andreas Reiser of Dorgastein was imprisoned for putting up a notice at his church which denounced the Nazi system.
Sent to Dachau in August , he later wrote of his experience, saying that the prisoners were stripped to the waist, shaven headed and forced to labour through the day. A young SS guard was assigned to torment him and at one point forced Reiser to wrap barbed wire on his head as a "crown of thorns" and carry planks like Christ "carried the cross" , while Jewish prisoners were forced to spit on him.
Dachau was re-opened in , whereupon German priest Fritz Seitz became the first clerical inmate — he was mocked on arrival and told that the Pope would be imprisoned at Dachau at war's end. In a book about his time at Dachau, Father Jean Bernard of Luxembourg wrote that although forbidden to say mass, priests were brought great comfort through conducting secret Masses, using scraps of bread as communion.
Of a total of 2, clergy recorded as imprisoned at Dachau, the overwhelming majority, some 2, or Schnabel's investigation, Die Frommen in der Holle found an alternative total of 2, and included the fate all the clergy listed, with noted as deceased and sent out on "invalid trainloads" and therefore presumed dead.
Kershaw noted that some German priests were sent to Dachau. The Clergy Barracks of Dachau: Clergy by nationality . A small number of clergymen at Dachau were held in private cells in the bunker. These included high profile inmates Dr. In , "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 , 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 to priests from Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz and other camps, who were put into Blocks 28 and Block 30 was later converted into an infirmary barrack". The Mortal Agony of Christ Chapel was constructed at Dachau in , as the first religious monument at the site, at the instigation of former prisoners, including Johannes Neuhäusler later auxiliary bishop of Munich.
A plaque at the back of the chapel recalls the suffering of Polish prisoners of Dachau and was erected by Polish priest survivors. Hitler formed his own "Hitler Youth" to counteract and subvert and confuse the young. Another source of their resistance to HY was the courage of its members their ability to hold their organizations under great pressures owed much to Catholic teaching, particularly the Church's attitude toward suffering and Martyrdom for the Faith.
In the end Hitler was unable to totally corrupt CY, so he resorted to an array of coercive powers against Catholic youth: Young Catholics were placed at a disadvantage in employment or admission to universities. In the summer of the Gestapo prohibited to all CY any extra-Church activities and rigidly enforced the law.
Beginning in , one diocesan group after another was dissolved by police decree, several of its prominent leaders were arrested, some sent to prison. Hitler thought that if he could control the youth, he owned the next generation. And he was largely right, except for the power of CY and its priests. Priests were active in the formation and sustenance of the CY organizations.
The Church commanded not by the force of guns, but by the force of moral authority, and that he feared. In fact, at least one pastor as early as forbade any of his young parishioners from joining the HY movement organizations, going so far as to announce that any person joining HY was to be denied the Sacraments. The local Bishop backed up that priest when his opposition became an issue. Nazi policies drew more denunciations by the Church. In all eight of the Bavarian bishops condemned Nazi racial "doctrine.
In , the Fulda Bishops' conference, an annual event, denounced the errors of National Socialism. As a result the Nazi party actually began to loose elections after the Bishops intervened and the Center Party, the primary political opposition to the National Socialists, held its ground, depriving Hitler of any sweeping majority. Hitler never gained anymore than a plurality of the votes. He fared even less well in districts heavily populated by Catholics, including middle class voters.
In an effort to gain support of Catholics, Hitler effected the Concordat with the Church, ostensibly agreeing not to interfere with Church activities, an agreement never intended to be honored by Hitler. Attacks on the Church and its organizations continued despite ratification of the Concordat. The Nazi state had enormous power, but that was not enough, for Nazism was not simply a dictatorship but an entire movement which intended to involve the whole society in every aspect of daily life.
The Gestapo reports on Catholic priests did not limit themselves to bare facts; they were loaded with indignation, for the writers of these reports hated the priests. Imbedded in the Church's stand on the CY was the conception that religion goes beyond the church doors and must pervade the whole life.
This put the Church and its early stronghold, the CY, on an inevitable collision course with the Nazi state. In the first year of the Nazi regime priests had spoken out. One priest who resisted armed soldiers at his church devotions in , was arrested for speaking against the Nazis. Klinkhammer was sentenced to six months imprisonment for "characterizing a speech of Goering's as rubbish.
Goering was one of Hitler's top henchman, a practicing homosexual with a penchant for pedophilia by reports circulating at the time. The Hitler cabinet was disproportionately homosexual until they grew so powerful that Hitler got rid of most of them because he wanted no one more powerful than he was, not because he hated homosexuality per se. But in the early years the homosexuals had free reign to persecute the Church as a matter of state policy.
Another priest spoke out on the homosexuality of Rohm of the SS, as well as the homosexuality and drug addiction of Goering. For that he was imprisoned for sixteen months. In , Associate Pastor Leyendecker in Ronheide, attacking a speech by propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, stated that he knew that he stood there in the pulpit for the last time, but that another would come in his place and say the same thing.
As he predicted he was arrested. Dionysius gained a reputation among the clergy of the archdiocese of Cologne for his outspoken sermons. Priests were arrested for merely taking down HY posters that were forced onto church property along with the Swastika. The matter of posters brought a host of priests to the attention of the police in November of On the 12th of that month Hitler had called a plebiscite, asking for the German people's approval, expressly.
Roving groups of National Socialists put up posters everywhere including church buildings and their walls. Priests were denounced for tearing them down. Another form of aggression against priests was to greet them with "Heil Hitler," which proved to be deeply disturbing to many of the ordained, including one who accused a Nazi of giving him the "Heil" only to provoke him. This was all too often true. Many priests who objected to the salute tried to find some way to divert it, by replying, for instance, "Good Day," ["Gruss Gott"] or "Praise be Christ"; many forbade its use during religious instruction in the schools.
Priests were by no means helpless against intrusions into their churches and spheres of activity. When an area was predominately Catholic, and the priest a fighter, members of the Nazi youth organizations sometimes found themselves in the minority. But still the Nazis were in control officially and used the power of the state to manipulate Hitler youth to taunt Catholics. In defense of Catholic youth and the rights of the Church, priests often struck back through the pulpit or in religious instruction.
Discrimination against Catholic Hitler Youth as altar boys was a common complaint in the files of police. The diocese of Aachen made the prohibition general for the entire diocese. Patriotic flags had always been used at funeral Masses for military members, etc.
But when the Nazis instituted the Third Reich, many priests refused permission for the Nazi flags to be used during these liturgies. This was prior to the known atrocities, which illustrates how prescient the Church was on the evils of socialism, national or otherwise. Recall, that in no one, including most nominal members of the Nazi party had any knowledge or inkling that Hitler was planning the genocide of whole races.
The early history of the party was one of national fervor due to the recession in Germany since the first World War. The refusal of his sanction to Nazi ceremonials [attempted in churches so as to "legitimize" their agenda with the people] was an area of freedom from which a priest could hardly be dislodged. Although he could be imprisoned or made a laughing stock in the slanderous political cartoons that proliferated in that time, much as is currently the practice in Portugal and here in America, albeit not quite as prolific as yet, there was no ultimate method to force a priest to endorse Nazism.
One priest publicly predicted in a persecution of Christians within one year. The degree of opposition to the regime offered by Catholic clergy in part depended upon the initiative of their ecclesiastical superiors. One of the most active sees, was the diocese of Limburg under Bishop Hilfrich. He would not permit a Swastika to fly over his cathedral. During the latter half of , when the Nazis demanded that Catholic youth join the Hitler Youth movement organizations, Bishop Hilfrich published a statement in which he exhorted his people to hold true to Catholic youth groups, saying that "the bishops hold their hands over you.
The bishop's priests followed suit, openly denouncing the naturalism and heathenism of Hitler youth. Generally, nuns were more dependent on the good will of the populace for their sustenance and activity in teaching youth. Fewer nuns thus spoke out. And a few bishops, after the Concordat, such as Archbishop Grober of Freiburg, ordered his priests not to speak out. But these minor exceptions do not sully the general activity of the clergy in resisting the Nazi regime.
And in those minority of cases where the bishop thought that the Concordat would cause Hitler to refrain from persecuting the Church, and thus the Bishop would be silent, some priests still resisted and were transferred by the silent bishop in retaliation.
On the whole the record of the Church was one of early and constant denunciation. Priests of the Holocaust Fr. Somehow the Nazi genocide associated with the word 'Holocaust' focuses primarily on those who died in extermination camps. If the word 'genocide' means the deliberate extermination of a national or racial group, the 6 million Jewish victims surely qualify.
However, so do 9 million or more Slavic victims who were eliminated solely because they were Slavic. Hitler believed Providence intended Slavs to be serfs to the god-like Aryans. Thus all educated Slavs, especially members of a clergy Hitler had vowed to "crush like a toad" after the war, were to be liquidatedby a year or two of humbling starvation and slavery.
As Martin Bormann put it: Polish priests will preach what we want them to preach. If any priest acts differently, we will make short work of him. The task of the priest is to keep the Poles quiet, stupid, and dull-witted. Ten thousand Poles were liquidated in the first four months of the occupation.
Seven hundred Polish priests were shot, and 3, sent to camps, where 2, of them died. The majority of them perished slowly and methodically from medical experiments and starvation labor. In the first week of December, , the SS consolidated the 1, priests from all the concentration camps into a single camp: Dachauwhere they could be tightly controlled. They were housed in two barracks, 26 and 28, ringed with barbed wirea camp within a campso they would be less able to act as priests during their few free hours.
By the day of liberation, 2, priests, brothers, and seminarians had dragged out their lives in Dachau and over 1, died there. These numbers do not include priests executed in cities and towns; of French priests arrested by the Gestapo in February, , were shot or guillotined before reaching any camp.
Nor does it count those priests who died in other camps; the International Tribunal at Nuremberg said that priests died of exhaustion in the quarries of Mauthausen alone. Nor does it consider that one quarter to one third of those shipped to any camp were often dead on arrival. With the complete suppression of the Catholic press, priests went underground, duplicating the sermons of the redoubtable Bishop von Galen of Muenster exhorting the people to resist the pagan racism of the Nazi regime.
Any priest was free to defy the Pulpit Law, but it would be his final public word. As the figures in the table below attest, several hundred German and Austrian priests took that riskcontrary to the view held by even eminent historians that the German Church was shamefully silent.
Dachau opened in , and its first inmates were criminals and those branded "enemies of the state. Every morning at 4: After using a latrine intended for only 50 although there were prisoners per latrine, they were given a tepid cup of ersatz coffee and then to roll call.
Until midway through the war, even corpses had to be present. Punishment was frequent, often for no observable reason. As one Dachau commandant said, "Softies belong in a monastery, not the SS.
This data concerns Dachau only. Further note that the haunting fear was of falling ill with diarrhea, edema, and especially typhus, which raged through the camps the final two winters, when died per day. At one point the SS refused to enter the contagious wards to remove the dead, so 20 priests volunteered, bathing the victims' bodies with lysol and stacking their bodies in the alleys like cordwood.
Moreover, several barracks served as laboratories for medical experiments. Klaus Schilling injected the priests, especially Polish priests, with malaria, TB, and pus to study the effects of various drugs. For five years, Konzentrationslager Dachau, a short bicycle ride across the sodden moors northwest of Munich, was the sight of the largest religious community in the world.