Some 450 babies were born at this monastery in the years following the end of the war.
Today, the town of Eresing is a small village of 2,000 in the quiet Bavarian countryside, in southern Germany. But right after the end of the Second World War, a monastery located just few miles from this idyllic rural village was home to one of the most overlooked aspects of Holocaust history—American-led displaced person camps.
To understand how a Benedictine monastery became the site of a displaced person camp (facilities within Allied-occupied Germany where Holocaust refugees were temporarily housed in the aftermath of the war), we need to go back to the history of Benedictine monks in the area.
During the 7th century, Eresing was one of the areas that was evangelized by monks of the order of St. Augustine. The brothers built an abbey and a monastic school that soon became one of the main higher-education centers in Western Europe.
In 1884, Andreas Amrhein, a monk from the Beuron Archabbey in the Danube region, was looking for a new site to build a community that could combine the Benedictine lifestyle with missionary work, something he felt was lacking at Beuron.
He initially settled in a different Bavarian town, Reichenbach am Regen, but after finding it too remote, he moved the congregation to Emmin, a small region near Eresing. That’s when “the Ottilien congregation” (after the patron of the monastery, St. Ottilia) was born.