Titus Brandsma - Letter from Prison to the Prior
Letters from Prison Kleve, May 28, 1942
Dear Father Prior, etc.,
At the beginning of May you will have been expecting a letter from Amersfoort, because there I would have been allowed to write again on May 1st, but a few days before, on April 28, I was suddenly taken back to Scheveningen. There one writes every three weeks, but one has to be there at least three weeks before one is allowed to write.
Before that term had passed, on May 16th, I was put on the way towards Dachau. Fortunately the voyage did not continue uninterruptedly, and for the time being we are in the prison of Kleve, to be transported from there in groups to different destinations in Germany. One always stays here one or two weeks. Each week about forty leave. Although usually one is allowed to write only from the place of destination, I got permission to write from here, because it is so long ago, and also because it is not yet determined when I am to go on.
In The Hague I have been tried more in detail about some letters. On my departure from Amersfoort I have also been informed that I will he kept prisoner because I am inimically disposed towards Germany and because it is to be feared that I will abuse my liberty against Germany.
Being sent to Dachau does mean that I'll be detained until the end of the war. Dachau near Munich is a camp with various branches. You will hear later on in which section I'll be, if anyhow they stick to this sentence. The Provincial could attempt to have it commuted to a transfer to a German monastery (Mainz, Vienna, Bamberg, Straubing), with eventual extensive restriction of freedom and of permission to work, with the obligation of remaining in that city or perhaps in the convent and of reporting in on a regular basis, of having no correspondence with Holland, etc. Pastor Bulters of The Hague was duly freed on condition that he transfer to Venray. In my opinion, the better thing would be to speak of this matter at The Hague with Mr. Hardegen, Provincial Dept. of the German Security Police, Binenhof 7, Room 137. It was he who always interrogated me and who also told me that Brandsma the lawyer from Zwolle had been there for me and that he gave him my large suitcase. He would not obtain anything else for me, but I feel I should be very grateful to him for his interest.
He could go for a talk even now, alone or with Fr. Provincial or someone named by him. This doesn't seem bad to me, but I leave the decision to you.
Of the more than six weeks in Amersfoort, I have been ill more or less for five. Providential. A rather light dysentery. Yet, this continual diarrhea weakened me. When it had gone, I got into trouble with my stomach, and these spasms rather bothered me. Little by little it has passed. Now I am all right again. My complaint, the kidney inflammation, although completely uncared for, bothers me next to nothing. In all those four months, it has caused me trouble and pain only three times, and then only slightly. In fact, considering the circumstances, I'm doing wonderfully well. I have a continuous appetite, as I have never known in my life before.
It was a great privilege that on May 17th, I could attend Holy Mass, and that on Pentecost Sunday and Monday, I also have been able to receive Holy Communion, after more than four months.
The suit you sent by express mail to Scheveningen, I fortunately received on May 16 on my departure from there. I already despaired of receiving it. Many thanks for everything. It contained everything I had asked for, but in case you sent more, or sent a letter with it, I haven't received these. I was looking forward to it, and would be happy to hear something.
Here I was allowed to keep Breviary, Missal and rosary. How will it be in Dachau? I hear though that there is Holy Mass on Sundays. I hope eventually to meet colleague Regout, Galena the Pastor and various other priests.
Please pay a personal visit to Professor Hoogveld, von Genechten, Bellon and Sassen to thank them by taking my place. Extend my condolences to the former on the death of Scintilla. The family will be comforted to know that after such deep preparation in such a sublime frame of mind and with an expression of such great affection for her family members she went to face death. It's good that she joined the Third Order. Many greetings to all. It's better so. You should remain the Director. The other changes are also very good. Greetings and thanks to Mrs. Span. Tell Hubert that in my solitude I've decided first of all to finish the edition of St. Teresa. Today is Teresa's birthday. I am spiritually at Jonge-mastate. On leaving Amersfoort, Father Hettema arrived. He thought they would free me. He is in good spirits and I heard he feels well.
Kindest regards to all. Pray for me.
In Christ, your Titus, Carmelite.