In 1945, a Paschal Liturgy like no other was performed. Just days after their liberation by the US military on April 29, 1945, hundreds of Orthodox Christian prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp gathered to celebrate the Resurrection service and to give thanks. The Dachau concentration camp was opened in 1933 in a former gunpowder factory. The first prisoners interred there were political opponents of Adolf Hitler, who had become German chancellor that same year. During the twelve years of the camp's existence, over 200,000 prisoners were brought there. The majority of prisoners at Dachau were Christians, including Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox clergy and lay people.
In the open air, behind the shanty, the Orthodox gather together, Greeks and
Serbs. In the center, both priests, the Serb and the Greek. They aren't wearing
golden vestments. They don't even have cassocks. No tapers, no service books in
their hands. But now they don't need external, material lights to hymn the joy.
The souls of all are aflame, swimming in light. Blessed is our God. My little
paper-bound New Testament has come into its glory. We chant "Christ is Risen"
many times, and its echo reverberates everywhere and sanctifies this place.
Hitler's Germany, the tragic symbol of the world without Christ, no longer
exists. And the hymn of the life of faith was going up from all the souls; the
life that proceeds buoyantly toward the Crucified One of the verdant hill of