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Dachau Martyr Beatified in Germany

28-Year-Old Priest Was a Sports Fan Known for His Joy

By Carmen Elena Villa

BERLIN, Germany, JUNE 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Father Alois Abdritzki was killed in Dachau in 1943, when he was 28, simply because he was a Catholic priest.

Now, he is recognized as Blessed Alois, after he was beatified today in the German Diocese of Dresden-Meissen, in a ceremony led by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

The Pope mentioned the beatification after praying the Regina Caeli on Sunday.

The postulator of his beatification cause, Andrea Ambrosi, told ZENIT that Father Abdritzki was seen by his fellow prisoners as a saint, and that he died with that reputation.

“His attitude was to cement his faith in an ever joyful attitude,” Ambrosi explained. “Because of this, everyone loved him.”

Healthy spirit

Alois Abdritzki was born in 1914 in Radibor, a small village in eastern Germany on the border with Poland. His family was part of a small percentage of Catholics who lived in the area inhabited by immigrants from Slav countries.

At 20 he entered the faculty of theology of the archbishopric’s academy of Padeborn. While there he showed interest in philosophy and pedagogy. He went on to seminary in Bautzen and was ordained a deacon in 1938 and a priest the year afterward. His priestly work focused particularly on youth ministry.

“He was a humble, simple priest always ready to help his neighbor,” Ambrosi said. “In addition, he loved sports and he constantly said that a healthy spirit dwells in a vigorous body.”

In the winter of 1941, after he had organized a theater production, Father Andritzki was arrested.

“From an eyewitness we know that at the end of the play the Gestapo arrived, and he had to write down the names of all those present. Chaplain Andritzki was being particularly watched, so much so that after being threatened he was summoned to the barracks and then arrested,” the postulator explained.

After his arrest, Father Alois remained under precautionary custody. But, the postulator said, it is thought he made statements against the Nazi regime and thus could not go unpunished.

The prosecutors built a case to “silence a priest who gave ardent witness of his faith,” as this “was intolerable for the National Socialist regime.”

Hence, he was sent by the Gestapo to the political prison of Dresden, where he stayed for two months. When he had completed his sentence, instead of being released, he was taken to the Dachau concentration camp.

His family appealed for justice. His father Johann Andritzki wrote a moving letter to the high security office of the Reich in Berlin, requesting that his son be released because there were no longer any charges against him. However, his effort was in vain.

Father Alois was killed Feb. 3, 1943. According to Gestapo reports, he died of abdominal typhus but in fact, after he recovered in the infirmary, he was given a lethal injection.

His testimony seemed like balsam for those in the concentration camp. “In the terror in which all lived in the Dachau concentration camp,” Ambrosi noted, “it was said of Alois that whoever saw him in the morning, remained full of joy the rest of the day.”

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