Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Catholic Priests and the Holocaust: A Book and A Movie

9th day
If you were fortunate to watch Fr. Mitch Pacwa last week, you saw his interview with his guest, William Doino, Jr. His guest spoke with enthusiasm about the book Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau | Fr. Jean Bernard. It was a book written by Fr. Jean Bernard and fairly recently translated into English.

In May 1941, Father Jean Bernard was arrested for denouncing the Nazis and deported from his native Luxembourg to Dachau's "Priest Block," a barracks that housed more than 3,000 clergymen of various denominations (the vast majority Roman Catholic priests).

Priestblock 25487 tells the gripping true story of his survival amid inhuman brutality, degradation, and torture.
This important book, originally published in Germany in 1963, was adapted by director Volker Schlöndorff into the film The Ninth Day in 2004.
Introduction by Robert Royal. Preface by Archbishop Seán Cardinal O Malley, Archbishop of Boston.
The above description from Ave Maria Radio where you can also purchase the book.

To read the first chapter of this book, check out Ignatius Scoop

Fr. Bernard's book was adapted into a film entitled The Ninth Day. To watch the trailer and learn more about this movie, be sure to click on the title above.
Abbé Kremer is released from a living hell in the Dachau concentration camp and sent home to Luxembourg. Upon his arrival, he soon learns that this is not a reprieve or a pardon of his crime – voicing opposition to the Nazis’ racial laws – but that he has nine days to convince the bishop of Luxembourg to work with the Nazi occupiers. Gestapo Untersturmführer Gebhardt is under pressure from his superior to have the Abbé succeed in creating a rift between the Luxembourg church and the Vatican – or be transferred to duty in the death camps in the East. Gebhardt, a former Catholic seminarian, uses theological arguments to bring the Abbé around but when they don’t work he resorts to more draconian measures. The Abbé is torn between his conscience and his horror of returning to Dachau...

I regret that I didn't know about this film when it was first released. I hope to find it on DVD somewhere. I hope you do too.


Marie said...

It is the first I have heard of it too but I doubt it will be released here. Not many religious movies are released here.

There was another movie I think it is called 'The Scarlet and the Black'? Where Gregory Peck plays a Priest? It was a good movie also. I will try and get both. Thanks for the H/T.

Peace & much love to you Esther:)

Marie xoxooxox

Kimberly said...

The Ninth Day is astounding! You absolutely must see it...

My son and I watched this film last year and it is truly one of the greats, worthy of owning. Many large, metropolitan libraries have copies of it as I believe it won a few awards...

EC Gefroh said...

Marie, I believe you can buy the DVD.
Oh, we love that movie!! Another good one is the Assisi Underground with Ben Cross. I haven't found it on DVD though.

Thanks Kimberly! I will certainly keep an eye out for it in our library.

Leticia said...

Since I loved the Scarlet and the Black, I have to get my hands on these two outstanding films.

Anonymous said...

I read the book not long ago. The brutal honesty of Fr Bernard's story moved me to tears! The pointless rigid 'rules' that had to be followed to the letter, the deprivation and denigration; yet the great joy on the rare occasions when they were permitted to gather for Holy Mass.

I've not seen the movie yet, and I'm not altogether certain I'd want to as the book was so heartbreaking! Yet at some point I probably will.

EC Gefroh said...

Thanks for the warning!