On the 80th anniversary of the death of Father Albert Eise in the Dachau concentration camp, pilgrims gathered at the camp to remember him for his heroic abandonment, to honor him, and to be drawn closer to the mystery of his unconditional surrender for Jesus and Mary, and for the growth of the mission of the Schoenstatt Movement.

Following a ceremony at the memorial of the Dachau concentration camp on September 3rd, the anniversary of Father Albert Eise’s death, a second event took place on Saturday, November 5th at the request of several interested individuals. Fifteen people of different ages and nationalities – among them several Schoenstatters – came to visit the camp in spite of the drizzle and the cold weather.

They wanted to pay homage on his name day to the priest who, because of his commitment to the Schoenstatt Movement and for publicly declaring himself against Hitler, had been sent to the Dachau concentration camp in 1941.

During the tour through various stations of the concentration camp memorial, the participants were able to learn a little more about the person of Albert Eise.

Albert Eise
Information Board – Photo Paffenzeller

Commitment to Schoenstatt to the end

Already as a young man Albert was inflamed by Schoenstatt. He belonged to the founding generation of the young Movement and later, as a Pallotine Father, he was given permission to work with the Schoenstatt Movement. In 1931 Father Kentenich entrusted him with the task of establishing a family movement within Schoenstatt. At the same time, he worked as a popular missionary and in the Schoenstatt Student Movement.

A lecture he gave there was used as an occasion to arrest him, because the Nazis were already spying on him. And there, in the Dachau concentration camp, he continued to work for Schoenstatt. He witnessed the founding of the Institute of the Families and the Institute of the Brothers of Mary, which Father Kentenich implemented in the concentration camp on July 16.

Albert Eise had erected a small altar on his white handkerchief, camouflaged behind straw sacks, for the founding ceremony. Not missing were an MTA image and candles. The Blessed Sacrament was in a small container. He had arranged a simple spiritual celebration. In a sense, he was able to fulfill his mission of building the family movement in the countryside. The seed, scattered under adverse circumstances in the concentration camp, did not perish. Today, both communities can be found on an international level.

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He offered his life for the growth of the Movement’s mission

Albert Eise not only worked for Schoenstatt in the concentration camp but offered his life and suffering as a prisoner for the growth of the Movement. Heaven took him seriously. He fell ill with starvation typhus. After weeks of suffering in the terrible conditions of the infirmary, he died in misery on September 3, 1942. Thanks to Dr. Edi Pesendorfer, a Brother of Mary, he was able to be transferred to a somewhat better equipped infirmary. Pesendorfer was the head nurse of the surgical department and had great influence. In addition, he got Father Fischer, who was also in the infirmary, but already recovering, to secretly administer the anointing of the sick to Father Eise.

Albert Eise
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A testimony that is relevant today

The visitors to the camp agreed: Albert Eise’s testimony is still relevant today and can inspire the testimony of today’s Christians. The words written on the wall of the monument in front of which the group gathered are like a summary of what this tour conveyed:

“May the example of those who gave their lives here from 1933 to 1945 struggling against the Nazis unite the living in defense of peace and freedom and in respect for human dignity.”

Making room for hope

The afternoon concluded with a Marian Mass in the Carmelite church. In accordance with the liturgy of the “Mother of Hope” Mass, the celebrant, Father Helmut Müller from Munich, described in his homily how Mary, who has endured and suffered so much, can also give us hope, especially in view of so much suffering and conflict in the world. Transformation can also happen nowadays, as it did at Cana. If we give our water – our small contributions – Jesus can make wine out of it.

Father Müller stressed how important and valuable human interaction is: a kind word, a friendly and compassionate look. Every conversation leaves an imprint. At that time, it was a matter of helping the prisoners to survive, guiding them to the Madonna of the camp. How much consolation and hope must the prisoners have experienced also through this simple image of Mary! In 1943, the Statue was secretly transported from Sudetenland to the camp.

Eise’s promise is also hopeful: “If I am no longer alive and I am in eternity and you have great difficulties, if you do not know how to make up your mind, call me, I will help you”.

Memorial Hall – Photo Paffenzeller

For those interested in learning more about Albert Eise, you can log on Nov. 16 and 20.

Online presentation, in German:

Portrait of the life of Father Albert Eise – a herald of Mary (Eugen Schmidt).

Wednesday, November 16, 8:00 p.m., Sunday, November 20, 4:00 p.m. German time.

Sister M. Elinor Grimm, speaker on the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial; and team.

Link to zoom in: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84145308337?pwd=UjhRc0dVKzdDWUlHMUNoUDZaZ1Y5dz09