Otto Neururer was a humble and parish priest in a small Tyrolean village in the mountains. He was arrested by the Gstapo (“Secret State Police”, Nazi Germany’s political police) in December 1938 and accused of opposing the Nazi regime.
Otto Neururer repeatedly preached from the pulpit that we must love all our fellow man, which he naturally took to include all Jews. This, of course did not go down well with the anti-semitic regime. He was furthermore accused of preventing the marriage between a violent fanatical Nazi who had left the church and a naive pregnant girl thirty years his junior. Otto Neururer took it as his duty to protect the young girl as well as the sacrament of marriage.
After being brutally interrogated by the Gestapo in Innsbruck, Otto Neururer was brought to the Dachau concentration camp near Munich in March 1939. There the gruelling work in the gravel pits, the constant violence and the constant hunger weakened his body considerably. Although it was strictly prohibited in a concentration camp, Otto Neururer continued to do his pastoral work, saying mass, preaching in secret and listening to the confessions of the other prisoners. For this he was severely beaten. Nonetheless, he kept on doing his spiritual work.
In September Otto Neururer was moved to Buchenwald concentration camp near the town of Weimar. There he is seen by the commanding officers as a persistent enemy of the Nazi regime. Despite his friends’ warnings, the pain and the perpetual sickness, he continued to console others, prayed with them, giving them courage. He even forgave the worst camp henchmen.
In the Spring of 1940 Neururer was promised by the camp’s leader that that he would soon be able to go back home to his beloved Tyrol. In that moment, a fellow prisoner from Berlin asked him for help in converting to the Catholic faith.
Otto’s friends warned him that the prisoner from Berlin could sell him out to the camp’s leader. Any religious inﬂuence such as a baptism was punishable by death. But Otto Neururer continued to teach the man about baptism. He helped him make his confession and in the sacrament of forgiveness.
A few days later the betrayal took place and Otto Neururer was taken to the death bunker, where he was strung up by his feet and left to die for 36 torturous hours.
His body was brought to the town of Weimar and cremated. The ofﬁcial cause of death was declared to be heart failure.
Pope John Paul II beatified Otto Neururer on November 24th 1996.
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