Review of Hitler’s Priest

Those who do not know the lessons of history or pay them no heed are destined to live them again. The history we are discussing is the history of Hitler’s Third Reich and the final Solution to exterminate all the Jews of Europe.

History tells the story very well and there are holocaust survivors still living and enough of us who still remember the liberation of the death camps. However, it takes the gif of art to put a human face on the inhumanity and horror of these events. Painting,sculpture, music, poetry, and fiction emphasize that the events of the Holocaust are not
just chapters in our history but events that resulted in the extermination of millions of Jews, intellectuals, clergy of every denomination, and all political dissidents throughout Europe. These are faces millions of people who were tortured and murdered.

Salvatore Tagliareni adds to that tradition of great art with his historical novel, Hitler’sPriest. The tale begins in northern Italy with brothers who experience a tragic hunting accident when the younger of the two loses his arm when his hunting rifle misfired. Thescene moves to Passau, Austria, where a brilliant young multilingual architect, Hans
Keller, comes under the influence of Josef Goebbels and the Minister of Propaganda and the power of Hitler’s vision for a renewed Germany. After confirming Keller’s allegiance to the mad vision of Hitler, Goebbels recruits him to accept ordination to the
Roman Catholic Priesthood in order to be Hitler’s mole inside the Vatican.

Italy was under the influence of Germany through an alliance with the Italian Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. The Vatican had a concordat with Germany to try to protect the property of the Church. As the story evolves, the Vatican City State is caught between a rock and a hard place, the hatred of Nazism and the real threat to the people of the entire world. The Final Solution to exterminate Jews came to Italy late in the war and was stalled to some degree by stereotypical Italian intransigence that drove the Nazi’s crazy until they threatened to exterminate whole villages.

Tagliareni brilliantly interweaves the lives of his characters all of whom have a significant role in the story. The story details some of the atrocities of the Third Reich with such descriptive prose that I had to stop reading to wipe away tears. We must never let the world forget.

I have one disclaimer. Sal Tagliareni is my friend of more than forty years and we shared our student days and our association in Church ministry. He studied at Rome and enjoys the confidence and mentorship of the great psychotherapist, Victor Frankl, whose famous
work, Man’s Search for Meaning, grew from his own holocaust experience where he is the lone survivor from his entire family within the death camps. Sal’s story does honor to his mentor. This book is not only a “must read” but should be shelved in every household
so the story can be revisited, and passed on the children, grandchildren, and generations yet to come. We must never forget. Read this book. Your life will be enriched by it.

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