Fritz Michael Gerlich, a German convert to Catholicism, systematically denounced the Nazi barbarism and Hitler for over 13 years. After his arrest, he was sent to the concentration camp of Dachau where he was killed. Now, two authors recount his story in the book, “A Journalist Against Hitler.”
In the latest edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Gaetano Vallini chronicles Gerlich’s story, explaining that in 1923 while working for the newspaper "Münchener Neueste Nachrichten", Gerlich denounced “one of the most serious betrayals in German history,” referring to Hitler’s failed attempt to take power on November 8 of that year.
Gerlich said Hitler was an “idiot,” but a dangerous one, because he knew how to manipulate others into doing what he wanted them to do. In 1927, Gerlich’s life took an unexpected turn. Used to living as an agnostic, he met Therese Neumann—who died in 1962 and whose cause for beatification is in process. She was known for bearing the stigmata and for having survived for 35 years without food or water, living only on the Eucharist. Through his encounter with her, Gerlich embraced the faith and was baptized on September 29, 1931, taking the name of Michael.
Gerlich was not allowed to express his opinions in his articles and so he decided to found a new publication entitled "Illustrierter Sonntag", in which he continued to criticize Hitler. After this publication was closed down, he founded “Der gerade Weg” in 1932, in which he warned of the coming barbarism of Hitler.
In one of his more outspoken editorials he described Hitler as full of hatred and surrounded by a group of people “who all share one common objective: the desire to destroy.”
He also warned of the Nazi’s anti-Semitic plans to proclaim “a new religion on the basis of the myth of race.” As the elections were held which put Hitler in power, Gerlich wrote: “Those who don’t vote today assume a grave responsibility before God, their children and their children. And moreover we say: it is the duty of every Catholic to vote for the parties that defend the eternal principles of the Church.”
On March 9, 1933, he was arrested, despite his plan to flee to Switzerland. “I am ready to respond with my life for what I have written. I will not retract. I am a Catholic,” he proclaimed.
Fritz Michael Gerlich was killed at the Dachau concentration camp on June 30, 1934.