MY THIRTY-THIRD YEAR by Monsignor Gerhard A. Fittkau
Kirkus Star


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A more deeply moving book than this would be hard to conceive. Even in the mountain of war stories, few can surpass the frightful poignancy of its very simplicity in telling the sufferings of the innocent. The narrator, ordained eight years, was assigned a little village parish in Prussia's Catholic Ermland district in 1944, a year before the German defeat and the aftermath with the Bolsheviks. What happened to priests and people in the impact of that single next year is the burden of these pages. Pastor and people were harded into box cars and deported, a story made familiar in the Nazi record, but the tragedy in each account cannot be hackneyed, the transce humanity of the new-old story. Here is the eternal story of human suffering, deprivation, death. In the camps, the distinctions of peace-time life were erased; evangelical pastors knelt beside dying priests, prayed with and for them, were fondly blessed in return. Throughout his ordeal, Fr. Fittkau despite his abundant humanity, never lapsed from awareness of his unique role as a priest. The utter absence of any pretension gives the book its astonishing appeal. When release comes, Fr. Fittkau finds his way with the remnants of his people, to his bishop, and undramatically resumes his vocation of priesthood. Religion throughout was his - and through him, their single solace. A simple story, beautifully told, engrossing reading for young and old, Catholic and non-Catholic.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1958
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy