Recently I had the opportunity to read, “Priestblock 25487, A Memoir of Dachau.” By Father Jean Bernard. The book recounts the personal experiences of Fr. Jean Bernard during his incarceration during the Second World War at Dachau. Throughout the entire book, Fr. Bernard recounts the atrocities committed against some 3000 plus bishops, priests and deacons that were persecuted by the Nazi government. Members of the clergy from all Christian sects were not exempt from this horrific experience either. This work is a shouting message to everyone that reads its pages. Namely, persecutions against all faiths are a serious incarnation of the presence of evil in our world. Special attention should be noted to the sometimes-macabre treatment of Catholic clergy during their incarceration and their faithful resilience in keeping true to the faith. Fr. Bernard details opportunities when he and other priests were permitted to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the subhuman conditions that surrounded their celebration of the Mystical Body. The book is a sacred testimony to the endurance of the Catholic faith under persecution. Fr. Bernard’s experiences document his faith and the faith of all of the clergy around him as they toil in vein and perform superfluous works of human labor for the amusement of their captors. As I read the book, this chapter of the ignominious experiences during the Holocaust provides a source for meditative thought and prayer in recalling all of the uncelebrated victims of this terrible atrocity. The saga of the concentration camps was truly a crime against all humanity, Catholics, Jews and Protestants alike. Fr. Bernard’s telling of his experiences offers us a sacerdotal insight into the cataclysmic world of terror and chaos that existed in the Nazi death camps. This book is one that cannot be put down after one starts reading the saga. The message of the writing is clear; Christ lives even in the shadow of evil tyranny and prevails over the shadow of death. Every person should know the extent of human suffering endured by these holy men. Their faith endured persecution and our religious freedom today is a direct result of that resistance.

The book may be purchased at www.zaccheuspress.com.

 Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author that writes freelance works on topics that involve Catholicism. He writes a daily column, http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com. He can be reached at hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

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