Moved by Weigel column and film about concentration-camp priests
To the editor:
I was very moved by George Weigel’s column (“Keeping sacramental faith alive”) in the September issue and the story of Father Karl Leisner and his thoughts at the end was certainly timely for the church today. His story reminded me of another priest who survived Dachau, over half didn’t, a Father Jean Bernard of Luxembourg who kept a diary of his imprisonment and wrote a book about it in 1945. It was entitled “Priest Block 25487” and in 2004 German Director Volkar Schondorff made a film based on it entitled “The Ninth Day.:
The priest in the film, Fr. Henri Krenier, is given nine days’ “leave” from Dachau, arranged by a Gestap agent, to return to Luxembourg to persuade his anti-Nazi bishop to cooperate with the Nazis’ occupation. If he should try to escape the Nazis would execute his brother priests from Luxembourg.
This is the true story of a priest’s struggle for life, to keep his vows and faith in his church, and in the end, redemption. There are scenes of crulty but ones like the little boy who gives the hungry priest half of his piece of bread., and the German soldier who drives him home and says as he leaves, “I will pray for you.”
I found the book and the DVD in a catalog from Ignatius Press. If you can find them, Father Bernard’s story will be hard to forget.