Jakob Gapp (Wattens, Austria, 1897) was an Austrian priest who fled his country in 1939 – in March 1938 Nazi Germany annexed Austria to the Third Reich(Anschluss) – persecuted by the Nazi police, the Gestapo, “for his forceful criticism of Hitler’s racism, which he expressed in his homilies”, according to his biographer, the Marianist religious José María Salaverri. Gapp, later known in Spain as Santiago, arrived in Valencia in 1941 after passing through Bordeaux and in 1942 he was located by the Gestapo.
Two young Germans arrived in Valencia and gained Gapp’s trust for months, pretending to be Jews who were also persecuted, until they convinced him by trickery to travel to San Sebastian. On November 9, 1942, they entered with him in Hendaye, then in France occupied by the Nazi regime, and he was arrested. After being tortured and imprisoned, he was beheaded in Berlin on August 13, 1943 (he was beatified by John Paul II in 1996).
A documentary recalls the figure of this priest, who stood up to fascism and was closely linked to the city of Valencia, where he spent most of his time in Spain. He worked in the school of El Pilar, where for a year he worked as a chaplain and taught Latin and German. There he was tracked down, spied on and monitored for six months by two undercover Gestapo agents. Gapp’s case impressed Heinrich Himmler himself, head of the Nazi secret police, according to the biography written by Salaverri.
The audiovisual directed by the Valencian Manuel Cabo, ‘Santiago Gapp, the priest who confronted Hitler’, traces the life of the Austrian priest in locations such as Germany, Austria, France and Spain, with interviews with historians and religious of the Marianist congregation to which Gapp belonged. The work shows original documents, some of them unpublished, such as his death sentence, letters of the religious from Valencia or from prison, or the telegram sent by the director of the German prison where he was guillotined to inform the relatives of his death.