Tuesday 11 October 2005

With Bound Hands by: Mary Frances Coady

With Bound Hands: A Jesuit in Nazi Germany
Mary Frances Coady
Loyola Press

Reading books by and about those who spent time in Nazi Germany is always difficult and sometimes discouraging, yet often they end up dispelling the evil they recount by the triumph of the human spirit against it. This book should be a Holocaust classic right up there with Elie Wiesel’s Night or Etty Hillsum’s An Interrupted Life and Letter from Westerbork. However, our main character has more in common with Etty then Elie, for Elie was rescued in the dying days of the war, and both Etty and Alfred Delp, our hero, did not make it out.

This is the story of a young man studying to be a Jesuit Priest, a man who pushes the boundaries in his own order and ruffles some feathers outside of it as well. He is a man who has faith and is certain of the things he believes in. He is also certain that Hitler will fail and from early in the war is part of a group that is trying to create a plan for the rebuilding of Germany after the war. This group that he joined was called the Kreisau friends. In an early letter Delp wrote about the resistance: “Whoever doesn’t have the courage to make history is doomed to become its object. We have to take action.” P.48. Throughout the war Delp had many roles: parish priest, teacher at a boys’ school, active resistance friend and community leader.

Delp was arrested for a murder plot on Hitler, a plot about which he did not actually have any knowledge. He believed to nearly the end that he would be acquitted in his trial. In December of 1944 he wrote: “Today was a good day. Even though in the end we’re chained and locked up, the heart of the day is the mass. We pray and trust and are not in the least bit modest about what we expect from God.” P.107. Yet as time wore on, he would despair. But his faith in God would stand firm.

This book is an amazing testimony of the power of the intellect and of steadfast faith, in very troubled times.

(First Published in Imprint 2005-09-23 as 'Faith Versus Adversity')

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