Biographies (3-part)

(11 March 1884 – 6 November 1950)

Benedikt was born on 11 March 1884 in Schirmdorf, Steiermark, Austria. His parents were Heinrich Graf des Enffans d’Avernas and Anna, née Countess Plag. He attended the Stella Matutina Gymnasium in Feldkirch, Vorarlberg, as his younger brother later reported. Other connections to Feldkirch can also be supported.
    There is evidence that in 1906 Benedkit registered for law in the third semester. But then he is on record as being a lieutenant with the Imperial Tyrolean Riflemen. A letter from 22 March 1911 testifies that he was accepted at St. Ottilien and was setting out for there, via Feldkirch, however, in order to make a retreat there.
    Thus he made his trip to the monastery interiorly armed. After several weeks postulancy, he was received into the novitiate and now known as Frater Canut. Apparently, as an aristocrat he had asked for a noble patron, a saintly king, as his brother had similarly chosen the margrave Leopold. He took his simple vows on 28 July 1912. He did the philosophical-theological studies at the lyceum in Dillingen and at the university in Munich. He received priestly orders on 13 August 1914; it was advanced because of the outbreak of the First World War. As a priest he could be employed as an enemy chaplain. Solemn profession followed on 27 August 1915, but now the First World War was in full swing. Only in 1921 could the young Benedictine follow his brother to Seoul. Different than his brother, he served his community for almost twenty years as the subprior in Seoul and then in Tokwon, and at approximately the same time became the superior of the station in Naihpyong, until the Communist terror caused the missionary work to come to an end. The final station of his life was the prison, then internment in Oksadok, then at Manpo on the Yalu River, where he died on 6 November 1950. He also lies buried there.

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

Father Canut Graf des Enffans d’Avernas had already been suffering from heart and kidney trouble for many years. Also, on the first ascent to the camp, he had to be carried up by oxen because he was feeling faint and was fortified by a camphor injection. He recovered gradually and helped as much as he could with a little gardening and kitchen work. In 1950 he looked after the tobacco harvest and processing. Up to the day of the flight, he had sliced up the pumpkins expending all his strength. We then hung them up behind the house to dry as a winter supply. Naturally, the flight itself was very frightening for him in his weakened and frail condition. Already on the descent he collapsed and could only be brought into the valley after an injection and a longer rest. There the rail line and the highway were beside the river. In fact, there was the possibility that some of the sickest and weakest – among them Fr. Canut – were  to be transported by heavy trucks to the north; but in fact the nearly twenty hour wait in the open in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the refugees and movement of the Chinese soldiers as well as the transport itself were a true martyrdom for him. This martyrdom continued in the further hurried flight from the Manpo prison over the Yalu River into China where we spent three dreadful days at the mercy of the cold, hunger and the derision of the people. On the way back, the sick too had to make it on foot. That meant to keep on moving, if one did not want to die on the roadside. But for the return, a place was promised on a large truck for the sick. So they waited for one freezing night in an open field and then they still had to go back on foot to the prison in Manpo. These strains completely broke Fr. Canut’s strength. He became weaker day by day. On 6 November, during the midday meal, he suddenly began the death throes, and the pale blue color of his face was a sign of the end. He was able to receive the sacrament of the anointing, and then he passed away peacefully and without any struggle. We had no way to lay him out properly. We laid him on the floor of a nearby empty room dressed in his gray prison suit, which was too short on him, and with his head lying on a wooden block. We were moved by the noble peace and dignity that lay over his face, in spite of the wretchedness of the external conditions. On the seventh of November, Korean prisoners came and carried away his body; we did not know where. Later one of these prisoners described to one of our Fathers exactly where he was buried. Before our departure from Korea, the Korean government assured us that they secured his bones and buried them in a new grave together with those of the three others who died in Manpo.

(19 November 1906 – 15 November 1950)

Ludwig Karl Friedrich Sorger was born in Spaichingen, Tuttlingen District, in the Diocese of Rottenburg, on 19 November 1906. His parents were the medical doctor Leopold Sorger and his beloved wife Paula, née Haller. His father was an assistant medical director and medical officer. Ludwig was the oldest of three children.
    According to the information in an official parish letter of reference, his father was kind of an eccentric who very much kept his family separated from their surroundings. Ludwig, somewhat nearsighted, attended the primary school in Ehingen followed by the gymnasium in Ehingen, Ulam and Rottweil. He sat for the university entrance exams in Rottweil. He first studied law for five semesters at Tübingen and then toward the end of 1927 he joined the Benedictines of Beuron. His first profession was on 29 June 1929. He did his philosophy studies in the monastery of Maria Laach and his theology in Beuron. He was ordained a priest on 5 August 1934.
    In 1937 Fr. Gregor was sent to Beuron’s new foundation in Tonogaoka, Japan and from there to Tokwon in 1940 where he served as organist, as he already done in Beuron, and music teacher. When the abbey was confiscated, he went to the prison in Pyongyang. From there he made his way to the camp in Oksadok, likewise Manpo. He died in Manpo from hunger and the cold on 15 November 1950.

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

Father Gregor Sorger had come to Korea from Japan in 1940. Since that time he had worked in our mission. His stay in the prison had already severely affected his health. He came into the camp exhausted by constant diarrhea and even there he never really recovered his strength. Reflective and quiet by nature, with an almost childlike piety, he never really spoke much about his suffering that for the most part included over exertion and hunger. Because he showed little aptitude for practical work, he was always subjected to a high degree to the harassment of the malicious work officers. This situation gave him a heavy psychological burden to carry also. For all the members of the camp, it was unforgettable how he always carried the rosary in his hand on the long way to the fields and pastures. He prayed an untold number of rosaries. Earlier the strenuous flight to Manpo that he had to make on foot had weakened him so much that he could hardly reach the shelter when the air-raid alarm frequently sounded in the prison there. The firebomb attack on this house with its frightful excitement and the Way of the Cross that followed to a makeshift prison constructed in a nearby mountain valley consumed the last of his strength. Our prison hole was an ice-cold, roughly covered space with the bare earth for a floor. There was nothing to eat at the time except for some boiled maize here and there. So it is that Father Gregor succumbed to the hardship of these days. It can literally be said that he died of starvation and he froze to death. That was on 15 November 1950. Also for him there was no nearby room in which his body could be laid out in peace. He literally lay in the road that ran through our huts, every one had to dodge by him as they passed.  It was as if he were apologizing in his own simple way for taking up a spot there. Unutterably poor he lay there, but he smiled – it was a pure childlike smile that said to us his hurrying companions in suffering: Don’t make much of this; what is most beautiful is still coming! He too was buried by Korean prisoners.
Father Gregor Sorger

Schwäbische Zeitung Online

13 November 2007


South Koreans want Spaichingen priest named blessed

By Fritz Mattes and Regina Braungart

SPAICHINGEN – A news report in the Catholic Sonntagsblatt has caused much excitement among the Spaichingen Catholics when it says that a Spaichingen priest might be proclaimed blessed. Admittedly, Father Gregor Sorger, born on 19 November 1906, is no longer known here. He died on 15 November 1950 in a Korean labor camp.

The information about the beatification process of thirty-six martyrs come from the missionary Benedictine Abbey of St. Ottilien. According to this, the Benedictine abbot of Waegwan abbey in South Korea, Simon Ri, issued a decree in a solemn ceremony that introduced the first phase of the beatification process of thirty-six martyrs of the North Korean Benedictine mission, writes the Sonntagsblatt.  Among them, besides twenty-two other Germans, is Father Gregor Sorger. The priests and sisters were killed or died from hunger and the cold in Korean prisons and labor camps between 1949 and 1952.

Why Father Gregor at first meant nothing to the people of Spaichingen, in whose memory the otherwise outstanding religious personalities are firmly anchored, lies in the fact that he must have moved away from here with his family at an early stage. The family register of the Catholic Church recorded the baptism of Ludwig Paul Friedrich Sorger, his civil name, for 26 November 1906. He was baptized by the assistant priest  Häfner. No witnesses to the baptism are given, which was unusual, but the assistant Oswald Haibt.

Ludwig’s parents were the medical doctor Leopold Sorger and his wife Paula, née Haller. Leopold Sorger was the assistant medical director and medical officer in Spaichingen. Ludwig had two younger siblings, however, they are not noted in the Spachingen baptismal register. The father was an eccentric who kept his family separated from their surroundings. The Sorgers had already moved out of Spaichingen when Ludwig was in primary school. Ludwig, who was near-sighted, ended up attending the primary school in Ehingen and the gymnasium there as well as in Ulm and Rottweil. He was confirmed in Neu-Ulm in 1920, sat for his university exams in Rottweil, in the seminary. He first studied law in Tübingen for five semesters, then entered the monastery of Beuron, at the end of 1927. His first profession was on 29 June 1929. This was followed by philosophy studies in Maria Lach, theology in Beuron leading to his priestly ordination on 5 August 1934.

The Sorger family did not come from Spaichingen. The father Leopold, born on 9 September 1872, came from Riedlingen, likewise the grandfather on the father’s side. His mother, M. Pauline Regina, née Haller, was born in Ulm on 19 June 1886 where her father, Friedrich Haller was a prison inspector. The Sorger couple was married on 8 August 1905 in Beuron.

An Organist in Korea

In 1937, three years after his ordination, Father Gregor was sent to the new Beuron foundation in Tonogaoka, Japan, then in 1940 to Tokwon Abbey in Korea. There, as in Beuron, he served as an organist and music teacher.

The news coming from the missionary Benedictine foundations in the Far East is relative scanty, especially when the news embargo was in effect during the Second World War. Japan had occupied Korea until Russia declared war on Japan in 1945 and invaded Korea. Eight months latter they had to withdraw again and the Korean communists stepped in to take their place.

In September they won the elections and Korea became the Democratic People’s Republic with the corresponding obstacles to missionary activity. This was felt in a special way because the schools that the Benedictines were involved in were nationalized. The missionaries were in a predicament: On the one side even under the Japanese rule they were under restrictions because they were training Koreans. Later under the communists they were seen as protégés of the Japanese and were likewise considered as foreigners. At the same time there was no sympathy on their part for the new communist powers.

Died of Hunger and the Cold

The Korean secret police occupied the monastery of Tokwon in 1949 and arrested all the monks and the superiors of the monastery and the seminary and brought them to various prisons and internment camps. Father Gregor was among them. At first he went to the Pyongyang prison and from there to the camp in Oksadok and Manpo respectively. He died in Manpo on 15 November 1950 from hunger and the freezing cold. “Under the most extreme deprivations the interned were forced to perform the heaviest physical labor. They willingly suffered it until exhausted for the sake of the faith,” records the monastery of St. Ottilien and lists the names: “They died, weakened and worn down beforehand by a cruel imprisonment, the hunger and the freezing cold.…Fr. Gregor Sorger, died 15 November 1950 in Manpo,” so the documents put it.

The process of beatification is at the moment in the so-called information stage, preliminary to the actual beatification process, in which all documents and evidence about the people involved are collected. Thus any kind of testimony from classmates, school lists, parish letters, descriptions of character or something similar are highly welcome by Father Willibrord Diever in St. Ottilien Archabbey.

(27 June 1888 – 12 December 1950)

Benedikt Hoiß was born on 27 June 1888 as the son of Andreas Hoiß and his wife Maria, née Boos in Unterau which belonged to the parish of Schlehdorf and thus was in the territory of the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising. After primary school he trained as a cartwright in Unterpeißenberg. The parish priest of Unterpeißenberg at the time wrote the following testimony dated 17 October 1907 on his moral character for his entrance into the monastery: “During his holidays and the required religious instruction he often went to the sacraments, as was the rule, worked very willingly in the workshop and when necessary on the farm.”
When he was received into the novitiate, Benedikt was given St. Hilary as his patron for the course of his monastic life. On 15 August 1910 he professed his vows. On 7 January 1911 he was sent to Seoul to the missions. There he was a teacher in the trade school. He constructed many mission stations in North Korea as well as in the Yenki territory. He made his perpetual profession on 1 November 1913. After his imprisonment on account of his faith, he went to the internment camp at Oksadok and then to Manpo. It was at the latter that he died on 12 December 1950 because of hunger and the cold.  

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

From the time of his imprisonment Br. Hilarius Hoiß was very much weakened by constant diarrhea. From the beginning he could only do light work in the camp, mostly sitting, because of his swollen legs.  He was an authority on medicinal plants and at the wish of our Most Reverend Bishop Boniface Sauer he concentrated especially on Korean flora. He gave me many practical hints, described the plants for me as well as he could, and confirmed their proper uses, if I brought any home from my expeditions. He himself was a diehard, grateful consumer of tea but even this could not save him.  With his large, bulky hands that you would not think capable of such fine work, he used every free minute to make all kinds of beautiful and useful things.  Our first tabernacle and the small wooden candlesticks belonging to the altar were a sign of his piety as well as his skillfulness.  Then there were the countless smoking pipes and walking sticks for the “trip home” etc.  The flight from Oksadok to Manpo turned out to be about the same for him as it was for Father Kanut. (He had died during the course of that march on 6 November). His diarrhea took on a very dangerous form, no doubt linked to the cold coming from the holes in the ground. This was especially painful and embarrassing for him in the cramped space. So his sudden death early in the morning of 12 December 1950 was a real release for him. The Korean prisoners carried his body out for burial but the next day we had the opportunity to locate his grave.  Surely God has received this great man of prayer.

(19 May 1909 – 13 December 1950)

Rudolf Hermann, son of Pius Hermman, a metal worker, and Maria, née Linder, was born on 19 May 1909 in Thal in the Illerberg parish, Diocese of Augsburg. He grew up with four brothers and sisters. Two children died in a painful childbirth, another as a small child. In his parents’ house and in primary school Rudolf received a solid religious upbringing. At first involved in farming, he did an apprenticeship from 1923 – 1926 as a painter and varnisher. He joined the Kolping Society who issued a generally very good reference about his moral-religious behavior. In February 1931 he asked to be received at St. Ottilien, as long as he was found worthy of so high a calling.
    In the novitiate he received Solanus as his monastic name and took his temporary vows on 13 May 1933. His perpetual profession followed on 7 June 1936. On 11 October 1936 he was sent to the missions in Tokwon. He spent all his years in mission service in the building trade.
    When Tokwon was confiscated, Brother Solanus at first had to willingly suffer imprisonment for his faith, then he went to the internment camp in Oksadok and then to Manpo, where he died of hunger and the cold on 13 December 1950.

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

Small and of somewhat stocky build, Br. Solanus Hermann always had a weak heart and was by far not the strong man that the police held him to be. He was usually assigned to the most difficult jobs and was one of those involved the most in making charcoal in winter and working with wood and in construction. At last when he believed there was nothing more he could do, he reported to me and told me his pains. For him also the flight to Manpo, which he had to make in this condition, was the last blow. In the earthen hole prison he lay most apathetically in his corner. But still, driven by hunger, he reported for volunteer jobs outside near the kitchen where he was soon able to grab something edible. Apparently on one of these occasions he received something that was not so good and that caused a very severe case of enteritis. His weak heart could no longer keep up. Early on the morning of December 13 we were awakened by his final gasps. When I came to him he was already unconscious and was not able to receive the holy oils. His death was a frightful blow for us, for just the day before Br. Hilarius had been buried. It summarized so well the hopelessness in our camp at that time. For me there will remain the unforgettable, lovely picture of Br. Solanus: evening after evening in the camp at Oksadok, when he would come home exhausted from work, he still made a short visit in the small chapel. The picture: a tired figure in torn clothing, the sooty face, the deep recollection.

(12 February 1897 – 1 September 1951)

Max Lohmeier was born on 12 February 1897 in Mering, Swabia, Diocese of Augsburg. His parents were Max Lohmeier and Kreszenz, née Schäfler. Max was a student for the Brothers at St. Ottilien and trained as a carpenter. In May 1914 he entered the monastery. In April 1916 he was called up for military service in the army. He served in the field artillery during the First World War and took part in the critical battles in France from 1916 to 1918.
On 21 March 1919 he was received into the novitiate as Brother Eusebius. He made his first profession on 5 April 1920. Perpetual profession followed on 5 April 1923. His missioning to San Benito at Dinaluphian, the Philippines took place on 30 March 1924, but on 3 September 1924 Br. Eusebius came to Seoul. There he directed the carpentry work during the construction of Tokwon Abbey and Yenki as well as during the construction of the cathedral in Pyongyang and many mission stations and churches.
After he was imprisoned in May 1949 for the sake of his faith, Br. Eusebius went to Oksadok. It was there that he died on 1 September 1951 of malnutrition.  

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB
Br. Eusebius Lohmeier was a giant of a man, a carpenter who had often prided himself that he could carry heavy tree trunks before the hunger in the prison camp had worn down his strength. In the first years of our life in the camp, he suffered, like many others, but to a greater degree, from festering skin abscesses caused by insects and general uncleanliness. During the months in Manpo his feet were frostbitten so badly that the skin of nearly all the toes was gone and on two toes even the joints had been affected. After returning from Manpo he still worked on the construction of the stalls for the sheep and the calves. This made him feel rather good and in his element. (He did not talk much about his hunger). But then he was assigned to agricultural work just when the heat was most annoying and the weeding was very difficult. This work completely wore him down. He often complained about dizziness and back pains but had little understanding of his condition. He was one of those who had suffered the least from diarrhea; but by the middle of August he had contracted enteritis that had almost turned into cholera. An adequate diet and tonic would perhaps have saved him, but it was not possible to make a request for these, and the body was so emaciated by this disease it was not responding any more.
At this time I was also doing fieldwork and when I was suddenly called back to the camp toward eleven o’clock on 1 September, I found him in the sick room already unconscious. He was in the corridor on his way to the lavatory, which was away from the house, had collapsed and his confreres had already brought him to the room designated for the very sick. He was not going to regain consciousness any more and died within half an hour. He was liked by everyone. Nothing could bring him out of his calm, pleasant attitude, and this often created a soothing effect in the agitation of camp life.

(7 December 1885 –9 November 1951)

Josef Romer was born on 7 December 1885 in Ingerkingen, in the Diocese of Rottenburg. His parents were Ulrich Romer and his wife Luise, née Kopp. He attended primary school for seven years. Then, he had one year of private instruction; he then spent seven years in the private gymnasium and seminary at St. Ottilien. He did the university exams in 1906 in Dillingen. At his reception into the novitiate, he received the name Anselm and was professed at St. Ottilien on 20 October 1907. Frater Anselm completed the study of philosophy at the lyceum in Dillingen, and then studied Catholic theology at Sant’ Anselmo in Rome.
    Father Anselm made his final profession on 1 January 1911. On 3 May 1911 he was ordained a priest by Bishop Maximillian von Lingg in the house chapel of the bishop’s residence in Augsburg. On 30 October 1911 he was sent to the missions in Seoul. From 1921 Father Anselm ran the local seminary in Seoul, whose growth and development is closely linked to him. As prior he also became pro-vicar when the Apostolic Vicariate of Wonsan was taken over in 1921. After the seminary moved to Tokwon in 1927, it was further expanded, and Father Anselm was the ardent and capable rector until his arrest on 9 May 1949. He was taken to the prison in Pyongyang and then to the internment camp of Oksadok. He died there on 9 November 1951 of hunger and cold.  

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

Fr. Anselm Romer, too, was one of my regular patients from the very beginning. By nature feeble and as rector of the seminary burdened by carrying much and difficult responsibility, he was already greatly enervated by the three months’ imprisonment. Even later on, he suffered from diarrhea most of the time, followed by the usual edema so that he had to be numbered among the people suitable only for light work. This was highly distressing and depressing for him, and he never missed even a minute where he did not try to be of use to the community in one way or another, for example by removing the grains from the maize cobs, by preparing brushwood on the mountain, by assisting in the kitchen and the like. Even in the fields, he helped from time to time as his strength allowed. He, too, was hard pressed by the time in Manpo, his heart was weakened and severe frostbites bothered him. I shall always remember the deep impression I felt when I saw the gentle, old man crying from pain and helplessness. Back at the camp, he cheered up again and had a kind and friendly word for everyone whom he met. He very much would have liked to return to Tokwon and work in the seminary. He was full of ideas and often asked with a smile, “Sister, can’t you prophesy?”
During the fall of 1951 his condition became more alarming, and now he himself began to prophesy, namely the likely date of his death. He had given us many beautiful homilies and conferences, and on the feast of the Holy Rosary, while seated before the altar, he gave us his last one about the holy rosary. Then, he only prepared himself for his death. Endowed with a sensitive heart, he suffered terribly under the nature of his ailment and his helplessness, which was really appalling under the prevailing primitive circumstances. It took him long until he was ready to entrust himself entirely like a child to my care. He would have liked to be called home by St. Willibrord, the patron saint of his seminary, but he had to be patient for a while. However, on 9 November, towards one o clock at night, he called for me and died soon after in total tranquility. For our camp, Reverend Father Anselm was such a spiritual point of gravity, something we thought we could not do without. You could not believe that he was no more. It was as if we had just now really lost Tokwon.  

(20 July 1878 – 20 March 1952)

Andreas Flötzinger was born on 20 July 1878 in Taiding near Trostberg in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising. His parents were the small landowner Andreas Flötzinger and his wife Anna, née Kunzer. He had one brother and one sister. Andreas learned the carpentry trade. Versatile in his training, he entered St. Ottilien in 1906 and began the novitiate as Brother Ildefons on 4 October 1907 and on 10 October 1909 took his vows. In November of the very same year he was sent to Seoul and taught in the trade school there.
    Brother Ildefons constructed a series of mission stations and schools. Even in the territory of the Ilan Mission, he built the first residences and churches for the Capuchins in 1938. In gratitude for this, he was named an “Honorary Capuchin” by the general of the Order and received a share in all the graces and privileges of this Order.
    In May 1949 Brother Ildefons came to the prison in Pyongyang for the sake of his faith and later to the camp at Oksadok where he died on 20 March 1952 from hunger and cold.  

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

Brother Ildefons Flötzinger was our camp’s very competent blacksmith.  In spite of his age he had survived imprisonment rather well and was lively and happily at work when I got up to the camp. He was very inventive and knew how to make a “machine” for every predicament. For the repairs to the tools, for example the metal parts of hoes, pick axes and sickles and the like, he put together a portable forge with ingeniously thought out bellows. At first he, like the others, was supposed to join in the difficult daily work, but gradually it was recognized that this was impossible and so he was allowed to relax somewhat.  One time, when a commander ordered him during the construction of a wall to pick up a very heavy stone, he told him very calmly, “That I cannot do; you will have to do it!”
In the autumn of 1949, when we were first given the blue cotton uniforms, he said: “If I die now, buried in the blue outfit, I will go up to the Lord and say: ‘Now look at your old Ildefons, what do you still expect me to do!’” The old brother survived the strains of the terrible ordeal of Manpo although he had to receive the sacrament of the anointing on Chinese soil because of a minor stroke. Yet after returning to the camp at Chonchon, it was clear that his strength was broken. In the first few months he worked here and there, he sharpened our sickles and did other services of love, but gradually he was seen less and less; he lay at his place in the sick room and prayed the rosary. Even his mental powers appeared to wane. During the night he often woke his confreres with his fantastic conversations and we really believed he would go before Father Anselm who died November 9, 1951. But he held on during the winter, though becoming physically and mentally more frail. He died peacefully and quietly on March 20, 1952.

(25 October 1887 – 6 April 1952)

Johann Baptist Auer was born on 25 October 1887 in Lauterhofen in the vicinity of Neumarkt in the Diocese of Eichstätt. His parents were Michael Auer and Katarina, née Auer. His father was a small landowner. Johann grew up with three brothers and three sisters.
    Johann Baptist entered St. Ottilien as a journeyman carpenter in December 1906 and was received into the novitiate as Brother Gottlieb on 4 October 1907. His profession took place on 10 October 1909. On 3 May 1914 he was sent to the abbey in Seoul. He arrived at the same time as the war began and was called up for military service to Qingdao. After the fall of Qingdao, he was a prisoner of war in Japan and was only released in 1920. He used the time in the prisoner of war camp to further his training as a construction draftsman under the direction of a fellow prisoner who was an engineer. Brother Gottlieb was also the mission photographer for many years. In May 1949 he was taken to the prison in Pyongyang and then to the camp in Chonchon. He died in the camp at Oksadok on 6 April 1952 of pneumonia and was buried there.

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

At first Br. Gottlieb assisted in construction and in felling trees. Even on coming from Tokwon, he had been sickly, but surprisingly he held up for a long time. Occasionally he was involved in fieldwork, but most of the time, especially in the period after Manpo, he took care of sawing and chopping wood for the kitchen and for heating. In this way he was able to take his poor health into consideration, occasionally stopping for a rest, and getting under cover during rainy weather. How many times I helped him with the sawing when I had some free time from my medical duties. In fact, it was he who taught me the art of sawing and chopping wood. One day, it was 4 April 1952, when it was snowy and thawing, he had to go into the forest with the others to cut wood. There was a terrible gale that day and the melting snow quickly soaked through the straw sandals, so that he was shivering and worked in cold, wet feet. At the suggestion of his confreres, he wanted to leave work early, but he was not given permission. By the very next day he had to lie down because of fever and sharp pains in his side. Pneumonia quickly set in, and with the means at hand I could not control it. From 5 April on his heart grew visibly weaker and did not react any more to the injections. On 6 April our good Brother Gottlieb passed away peacefully and quietly. His calm, fine, modest, unassuming demeanor always deeply impressed me. He was a pattern for orderliness in all he did. I believe that the good Lord also found things in order with him and rewarded his faithful servant in eternity.

(2 July 1912 –14 June 1952)

Blasius Ott was born on 2 July 1912 in Edelstetten near Krumbach in the Diocese of Augsburg. His parents were the farmers Michael Ott, who was killed in action in 1917, and Josefa, née Fischer. Blasius grew up with seven brothers and sisters; one blood sister entered the convent in Ursberg where she received the name Sr. Mary Luitraud; she was an outstanding educator and religious.
    Blasius came to our seminary at St. Ottilien in 1923 and completed his studies with the university entrance exams in Dillingen on the Danube in 1933. Father Kunibert made his first profession on 15 May 1934 and because of the political circumstances, after his solemn profession on 29 August 1937, he was sent to Tokwon. There he continued his theological studies which he had begun at St. Ottilien and Munich and was ordained a priest in Tokwon on 30 April 1939. He was entrusted with the care of the station of Yongheung and later Kosan. When Tokwon was suppressed in May 1949 he was taken to the prison in Pyongyang and from there to Oksadok where he died of starvation on 14 June 1952. Individual dates and accounts of his activity in Tokwon as a priest are lacking because of the news embargo.

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

Father Kunibert Ott was one of our priests from the youngest generation. Because of the danger of military conscription, he and some of his confreres were sent to Korea as clerics. There they completed their theological studies and were ordained to the priesthood. Although he had weak lungs, he maintained his good health in the camp at first. We all knew him as the happy driver, always ready to laugh. It appeared that the strains of Manpo wore him out because after we returned from there he was more or less always counted among the sick. From time to time he was badly swollen and he suffered from acute angina. In spite of this he did his work untiringly. In an heroic way he had worked through love of enemy and a policy of reconciliation, and for this, our community elected him as the person responsible after Father Eligius resigned his office in 1951. We also believed it would be easier to spare him if he had this position. The commander himself, who also appreciated Fr. Kunibert’s approach, expressed this hope. Unfortunately this hope was not fulfilled. On the one hand, Fr. Kunibert was hardly moved to spare himself in any fashion (how often, struggling for a breath, he carried the heavy food up the mountain to the workers), and on the other hand, he was mercilessly exploited by the police because of his willingness to help and his easygoing nature. In spite of his physical misery he remained ever calm and happy, and his bright, almost childlike laugh often resounded throughout the camp. How we missed it when he was gone! I took his illness to be beriberi of the heart. After two painful attacks, he received extreme unction some eight days before his death. An hour later he was walking around the camp, smiling at everyone and saying, “See, things are looking good.”  But instead things went downhill. On Friday June 13, it was his turn to celebrate. He did that. Without my knowing it, two hours later he was vomiting blood from a gastric hemorrhage and lay down with severe upper abdominal pains. When I came, he said, “This time I’ll make it.” He meant the passage to the other side. I reassured him and thought that even now the danger would pass, but he was right. During the day he suffered a lot and at night he forced himself not to disturb his confreres. In spite of that he called for me about one in the morning and early about 5:30 a.m., just before Mass began, he was released from his suffering. His death left behind an empty gap in our community.
(21 September 1906  28 June 1952)

Josef Schleicher was born on 29 September in 1906 in Pflaumloch near Neresheim in the Diocese of Rottenburg. His parents were the farmers Karl Schleicher and his wife Therese, née Gips. Josef grew up with several brothers and sisters. He completed his humanities studies in Rottenburg in the Martinihaus; in class five he did the state exam. After that he was in the Gymnasium in Ehingen where he also took the university exams.
    In May 1925 Josef was received into the novitiate at St. Ottilien as frater Arnulf and took his temporary vows on 15 May 1926. He completed his philosophical studies at St. Ottilien; his theology studies he did at Sant’Anselmo in Rome where he finished with a doctorate in 1931. On 13 July 1930 Father Arnulf was ordained to the priesthood in the chapel of the Dillingen seminary by auxiliary bishop Karl Reth (sede vacante).
    On 10 April 1932 Father Arnulf was sent to Tokwon. There in the seminary he taught dogmatics and biblical exegesis. He was the novice master and at the end, the subprior. He translated the letters of the New Testament into Korean, and during the time of internment, he liked to give exegetical conferences to his confreres. As superior he completely expended himself in the service of his confreres who were also imprisoned with him. Father Arnulf died out of hatred of the faith in the internment camp of Oksadok at Chonchon on 28 June 1952. There his earthly body awaits the blessed resurrection in a lonely mountain valley. He was the last martyr of the Communists from that period.

Report of the camp doctor Sister Diomedes Meffert OSB

Father Arnulf Schleicher, who worked in the seminary at Tokwon, was well known to all of us through his brilliant conferences, his courses in the school, and retreats and his readiness to help out in all cases where he was needed. He was decidedly a man of the head and less suitable for the work necessary for practical living. As subprior of Tokwon, he was chosen by Bishop Sauer to be the religious superior of the prison camp community when it left the Pyongyang prison. Given the nature of his character it was nearly impossible for him to conceal his internal protest against the frightful injustice to which our mission had fallen sacrifice. Though he exerted his strength at every job, his predisposition did not allow for any shining results. So he became the object of constant criticism and of venomous harassment by the guards. He suffered more from this than from hunger and overexertion. Even in the winter of 1951–1952, he worked with the coal burners and the woodcutters, but by the beginning of the planting season, his suffering really broke out. His kidneys and his heart were not working any more; a longstanding bronchitis took much out of him, and a general body swelling assumed frightening forms marked by death. But, neither he nor we could grasp that this should be so. He worked interiorly on improvements of mission methods, and the possibilities of new mission projects, a new building for the Abbey of Tokwon that was so dear to him and for the seminary connected with it. He, who had acquired with tenacious hard work immense knowledge in the difficult East Asian languages, must he now die… ? It was a frightful struggle for him that God wanted this of him, until he was able to surrender himself to it, perhaps as a foundation stone for a new Korean mission. Excruciatingly painful, but religiously intense days preceded his death, until in the night leading up to 28 June he sank into unconsciousness and towards nine in the morning he was released from his sufferings.