Bernhard Lichtenberg

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Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg
Bernhard Lichtenberg Büste Hof.JPG
Fr. Bernhard Lichtenberg
Priest and martyr
Born 3 December 1875
Ohlau, Prussian Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 5 November 1943(1943-11-05) (aged 67)
While being transported from Berlin to Dachau concentration camp, Germany
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 23 June 1996, Germany, by Pope John Paul II
Major shrine St. Hedwig's Cathedral,
Berlin, Germany

The Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg (3 December 1875 – 5 November 1943) was a German Roman Catholic priest and theologian, who died while in the custody of forces of the Third Reich. He has been awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations, and has been beatified by the Catholic Church.


Lichtenberg was born in Ohlau (now Oława), Prussian Silesia, near Breslau (now Wrocław), the second of five children. He studied theology in Innsbruck, Austria-Hungary and was ordained in 1899.[1]

Lichtenberg began his ministry in Berlin in 1900 as the pastor of Charlottenburg. For a time he also was a member of the local parliament for the Centre Party. In 1931, the Bishop of Berlin appointed him as a canon of the Cathedral chapter of St. Hedwig and in 1938 as provost of the cathedral, entrusting to him the task of helping Jewish community of the city. After Kristallnacht, the first organized Nazi pogrom in Germany, Lichtenberg would pray publicly for the Jews at Vespers services.

He protested in person to Nazi officials the arrest and killing of the sick and mentally ill as well as the persecution of the Jews. At first, the Nazis dismissed the priest as a nuisance. Father Lichtenberg was warned that he was in danger of being arrested for his activities, but he continued nonetheless.[1] Deploring the regime of concentration camps like that of Dachau, he organized demonstrations against them outside certain camps.[2]

In 1942, Lichtenberg protested against the euthanasia programme by way of a letter to the chief physician of the Reich

I, as a human being, a Christian, a priest, and a German, demand of you, Chief Physician of the Reich, that you answer for the crimes that have been perpetrated at your bidding, and with your consent, and which will call forth the vengeance of the Lord on the heads of the German people."[3]

Lichtenberg was arrested and condemned to prison.[3] Because he was considered incorrigible, he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp, but he collapsed and died while in transit,[3] on 5 November 1943 in Hof, Bavaria.[1]


On 23 June 1996, Pope John Paul II declared Lichtenberg and Karl Leisner blessed martyrs. The beatification ceremony took place during a Mass celebrated in the Olympic stadium in Berlin.[2]

Lichtenberg's tomb is situated in the crypt of St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin. After the war, the main office building of the Archbishop of Berlin was named after him.[2]

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