Father Unzeitig was just 30 years old, and two years ordained, when he was sent to Dachau. Born in Greifendorf, in what is now the Czech Republic, in 1911, Fr. Unzeitig joined the seminary at the age of 18 and became a priest for the Mariannhill Mission Society, whose motto is: "If no one else will go: I will go!"
While imprisoned at the camp, Father studied Russian in order to be able to help the influx of prisoners from Eastern Europe, and had a reputation at the camp as a holy man.
Treatment of the priests and ministers at Dachau was unpredictable – sometimes they were allowed to worship, at others they were severely treated. On one particular Good Friday, dozens of priests were selected for torture to mark the occasion.
For several years, Fr. Unzeitig was able to remain in relatively stable health despite the poor treatment he received. However, when a wave of the often-fatal typhoid fever swept through the camp in 1945, he and 19 other priests volunteered to do what no one else wanted to – care for the sick and dying in the typhoid barracks, an almost-certain death sentence in and of itself. He and his companions spent their days bathing and caring for the sick, praying with them and offering last rites.
Despite his bleak circumstances, Fr. Unzeitig found his hope and joy in his faith, as evidenced in letters to his sister from the camp:
"Whatever we do, whatever we want, is surely simply the grace that carries us and guides us. God's almighty grace helps us overcome obstacles … love doubles our strength, makes us inventive, makes us feel content and inwardly free. If people would only realize what God has in store for those who love him!" he wrote.