The entire world now knows the truth about Hitler’s ambitious and diabolical plan to eliminate the Jewish populace of Europe, but fewer know of his desire–once the war ended–to “crush the Catholic Church like a toad”. This new fiction release by author William O’Malley is the story of Paul Reiser, who worked tirelessly against the Nazis in the Catholic underground movement that started in the 1930s and was imprisoned as a seminarian with nearly 3,000 others, half of whom died in the camp, victims of medical experiments, slave work, starvation, and typhus.
Young Paul Reiser was proud of his German Catholic heritage, but understood the inevitably devastating effect the Nazis would have as they steadily encroached on religion, especially with the very young. Paul decided that the best way to positively influence the innocent was to become a priest, serving the helpless and the hopeless.
While recuperating from tuberculosis, Paul was arrested by the Gestapo only months before his ordination as a priest. He found himself first in Sachsenhausen then with all the prisoner clerics in Europe in Dachau. As Paul struggled to survive, he asked himself continuously if it was worth it. Was his faith strong enough to endure the rigors of the work camp where prisoners were rented out as slaves to war industries? Should he simply renounce Catholicism and make his way back to his family? Could his love of God overcome every human being’s yearning to survive? Nietzsche wrote, “Whoever has a why to live for can endure almost any how.” What was their “why”?
Names have been changed, and events and characters have been conflated, but all the stories in The Place Called Skull are true, little-known details of one of the most horrifying periods of history. The capture and imprisonment of Catholic priests makes for a fascinating story too important to be forgotten. Author William J. O’Malley has been a Jesuit for sixty years, and he has published 37 books and more than 100 articles. A teacher of theology in high schools and in colleges, O’Malley became interested in the role Catholics played after a visit to Dachau; his imagination sparked, O’Malley wondered “why so many men would endure soul-searing punishment rather than just saying, ‘I submit!’”
For additional information, please visit www.ThePlaceCalledSkull.com.
The Place Called Skull
ISBN: 978-1-4575-0943-8 256 pages $16.95 US
Available at Ingram, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble
and fine bookstores everywhere.
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