Chris Nicola

Chris Nicola was born in England in 1951. He and his family immigrated to the US settling ultimately in New York City. Chris is currently working as a Senior Investigator for New York State. Other jobs have included that of a union organizer, a police officer in Washington D.C., a bar manager and bouncer, adjunct lecturer, bodyguard, undercover investigator in the NYC schools, and civilian operative for the FBI.

As a graduate of 3 state police academies and recipient of specialized training from the FBI and NYPD his law enforcement career has spanned 37 years. He has earned undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice, Physics, and Forensic Psychology; an MA in Criminology; completed post-graduate work while enrolled in a Criminology PhD program, and is currently pursuing a Forensic Science MS and Film BA.

In the Mid 70’s Nicola began his life as an explorer by scuba diving in the caves of central Florida, in conjunction with 10 years of ocean diving, spending many hours on the wrecks off of North Carolina. To date, he has participated, organized and/or lead over 40 caving expeditions in the Americas, Oceana, Africa, Caribbean and Europe. Today he spends most of his free time caving, being a public speaker, and further developing a story that he first heard as a rumor in Ukraine 20 years ago; a story of how a group of Jews survived the Holocaust by living in a cave for over a year. To date, he has confirmed the story by locating 14 of the original 38 cave dwellers, co-authored a book that led to the making of a documentary about their experiences. Nicola runs the Priest’s Grotto Heritage Project; a genocide awareness project in which the grandchildren of those who lived in Priest’s Grotto Cave during the Holocaust will be working hand-in-hand with the grandchildren of those who lived above the cave in building an exhibit to honor what those courageous 38 did so long ago, and hopefully, by keeping this story alive for future generations, prevent such genocides as the Holocaust from ever happening again. This month, Chris Nicola will receive a Citation of Merit from the Explorer’s Club for his work bringing the Priest’s Grotto story to light. Further details can be found at

Priest’s Grotto: The Start to the Story

In 2007, Chris Nicola and National Geographic photographer Peter Lane Taylor wrote a young adult book, “The Secret of Priest’s Grotto – A Holocaust Survival Story”.

You can purchase a copy of it here.