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July 22, 2012

Father Kolbe, the Catholic priest who died in place of another at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:53 am

This quote is from a piece written by Dean Stroud which you can read in full here:

In July 1941 in the Auschwitz concentration camp, a Nazi officer selected a group of prisoners to die a slow death by starvation. Some prisoners had attempted to escape, and the Nazi response was to kill prisoners as a lesson against trying such things.

One of the men selected to die in the “starvation pit” pleaded not to be among those killed because he had a family. At that moment a Catholic priest, Father Maximilian Kolbe, volunteered to take the man’s place. He had no family, he said, and no one awaiting him. He would die in the man’s place.

Uncharacteristically, the Nazi allowed the exchange. In the starvation pit, the priest never despaired or fell into bitterness. He encouraged the other prisoners until he alone was left alive. Finally, tired of waiting for him to die, the Nazis killed him. Years later, when Pope John Paul II beatified Father Kolbe, the Jewish man whose place he had taken, was sitting in the audience with his wife, children and grandchildren.

I feel that this story needs some explanation, especially the term “starvation pit,” so I am putting in my two-cents worth.

The photo below shows the door into prison cell No. 21, one of the “starvation cells” in Block 11, the internal prison in the main Auschwitz camp.

The door into Prison Cell No. 21 in Block 11 at Auschwitz

Cell No. 21, shown in the photo above, has two religious pictures which were scratched into the wall by a Polish political prisoner, using only his fingernails. The wooden door of the cell has  a piece of glass covering the upper half of the door where there are more scratchings made with fingernails.

Cell No. 27 was a “starvation cell” in Block 11

Cell No. 21 and No. 27 were called “starvation cells” because prisoners, who had been condemned to death, were kept there without food and water until they died.

Cell No. 27 is where the first prisoners were gassed with Zyklon-B at Auschwitz, on the orders of the Camp Commander Karl Fritsch, but that is another story.

Block 11 has window wells to let light into the prison cells in the basement

The prison cell that was occupied by Father Kolbe

Father Maximilian Kolbe was a Catholic priest who was arrested by the Gestapo on February 17, 1941 because he had hidden 2,000 Jews, and because he was broadcasting reports over the radio condemning Nazi activities during World War II. On May 25, 1941, he was sent to the main Auschwitz camp as a political prisoner.

The following quote is from Wikipedia:

In July 1941, a man from Kolbe’s barrack had vanished, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritsch, the Lagerführer (i.e., the camp commander), to pick 10 men from the same barrack to be starved to death in Block 11 (notorious for torture), in order to deter further escape attempts. (The man who had disappeared was later found drowned in the camp latrine.) One of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, lamenting his family, and Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

Gajowniczek was a Polish political prisoner who had been arrested because he was aiding the Jewish resistance in Poland, although he was not a Jew himself.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

Franciszek Gajowniczek (November 15, 1901 – March 13, 1995[1]) was a Polish army sergeant whose life was spared by the Nazis when Saint Maximilian Kolbe sacrificed his life for Gajowniczek’s. Gajowniczek had been sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp for aiding the Jewish resistance in Poland.

Father Kolbe was canonized a saint in the Catholic Church on Oct. 10, 1982 in a ceremony held at the Auschwitz I camp.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

Gajowniczek was released from Auschwitz after spending five years, five months and nine days in the camp. Though his wife, Helena, survived the war, his sons were killed in a Soviet bombardment in 1945, before his release.[1]

PopePaul VI beatified Maximilian Kolbe in 1971; for the occasion, Gajowniczek was a guest of the Pope.  […]

His wife, Helena, died in 1977.[1] Gajowniczek was again a guest of the Pope when Maximilian Kolbe was canonized by John Paul II on October 10, 1982.

The wife and children and grandchildren of Gajowniczek may have been with him at the beatification of Father Kolbe, but strangely Wikipedia doesn’t mention it, nor does Wikipedia mention that Gajowniczek was Jewish.

Dean Stroud’s version of the story is better because he tells how a non-Jew sacrificed his life so that a Jew could live.  If only more non-Jews had given their lives so that the Jews could live, there would have been no Holocaust.


  1. A True Christian is a person who lives for others like his saviour Jesus Christ. To be like Jesus is very hard, yet father Kolbe could. Of course he is a saint. Let’s surrender ourselves to live like him.

    Comment by Rev. P T KOSHY — April 13, 2017 @ 11:24 am

    • You wrote: “”To be like Jesus is very hard, yet father Kolbe could.”

      I have been to Auschwitz, where I saw the prison cell of Father Kolbe. I don’t believe the story of Father Kolbe. You can read about him on my website at

      Father Kolby could have left his prison cell, but he refused. He wanted to be a martyr.

      Comment by furtherglory — April 13, 2017 @ 1:27 pm

      • The Catholic church has to have their saviors and heroes to.
        I tend to look at most information coming out of the camps as not too reliable.
        The comment about the 100,000 that perished is not based on what I’ve read…..around 70k probably less and half might of been Jews.
        And that is deaths from all causes… NOT being killed in homicidal gas chambers using bug spray as that didn’t happen at all.

        Obviously hundreds of thousands more Jews survived the camps then died in them.
        Just look at the number of people collecting reparations and you will get a good understanding of what happened.
        It’s either millions lied about their being in the camps so they could collect their welfare extortion check or there weren’t as many in the camps as they say, which one do you want to believe.


        Comment by Jim Rizoli — April 13, 2017 @ 2:12 pm

  2. One crazy religion for another crazy religion what are going to do the Catholics have their stories too that could be taken to task.
    But the Jews aren’t stupid they know they have to get brain dead Catholics on their side so they’ll believe the stupid story also so that’s why these stories have to be floated around for these Catholics who have no brains and can’t think for themselv who think that their religion is the best religion in the world also no wonder the Jews like the Catholics because they are pliable and can be talked into believing anything.
    You really have a Catholic fantasy story of the event or Jewish fantasy story of the event really doesn’t matter which one you believe they’re both crazy.


    Comment by jrizoli — May 1, 2016 @ 1:22 pm

  3. Fantastic Webpage, Stick to the excellent job. Thank you so much!

    Comment by news — December 27, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

  4. Dear FurtherGlory:

    That Father Maximilian Kolbe was hiding 2000 Jews, this I deem a very noble deed ; however, if AT THE SAME TIME Father Maximilian Kolbe was broadcasting reports over the radio condemning Nazi activities, then he was a very irresponsible and foolish noble man, for he was jeopardizing with one hand the rescue provided with the other hand.

    So please, FurtherGlory, share with me the source of this piece of biographical information, for I have read the article you linked above (by Dean Stroud) but could not find anything except the factual errors you have so aptly corrected.

    For this I thank you in advance.

    Comment by Al Fontaine — November 17, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

    • Apparently, there were several ways that Auschwitz prisoners were punished in an attempt to stop escapes from the camp. On July 19, 1943, there was a mass hanging of 12 Polish political prisoners in a reprisal for the escape of 3 prisoners. The gallows was not high enough and the victims died an agonizing death, according to my 1998 tour guide. This gallows has been preserved, so that tourists can see it. The gallows could have been a place to tie up horses, for all we know.

      You can see a photo of the gallows on this page of my website: (scroll down, it is the last photo on the page)

      Allegedly, a gallows was built to hang these 12 prisoners at the same time, and then never used again. Very strange, like all the Auschwitz stories.

      According to a sign in the Auschwitz main camp in 2005, when Polish prisoners continued to escape, their relatives were arrested and brought to the camp as hostages. Relatives of escaped prisoners from Majdanek were also brought to the Majdanek camp.

      At the Auschwitz main camp, the first building that you see, after walking through the Arbeit macht Frei gate, is Block 24, which now houses the Auschwitz archives and the office of the Museum director. When I visited Auschwitz in 2005, a sign near the corner of Block 24 said that the corpses of prisoners, who were executed because they had attempted to escape, were often displayed here as a warning. There is no sign which identifies Block 24 as the former camp brothel and camp library.

      All of this makes me tend to believe that Father Kolbe did NOT die of starvation to save another man. He might have died in a prison cell, and this story was made up, like so many other stories about Auschwitz. Edith Stein was another Auschwitz prisoner, who allegedly died in a gas chamber. She was also canonized as a saint.

      Comment by furtherglory — November 18, 2013 @ 7:52 am

      • Dear FurtherGlory:

        I thank you for your further notes on Father Maximilian Kolbe, as well as your notes on reprisals carried out in the camps (Lagern) in the wake of prisoner escapes.

        However, and please excuse me for insisting on this, I would like to know from you what is your source as for… “Father Maximilian Kolbe was broadcasting reports over the radio condemning Nazi activities”. I think this is a very important piece of information.

        I had the opportunity to share with you elsewhere in this blog what I have found thus far about the “Edith Stein case” (cf. my comments in “The War of the Crosses at Auschwitz”, which you posted on November 1, 2011) .

        Now I would like to refer you, FurtherGlory (and interested co-readers), to what can be found on Father Maximilian Kolbe in or through CODOH Revisionist Forum:

        and above all the following (most interesting) text >

        where we can read this stunning passage, to wit:

        ” (…) And now I must add a 6th objection. The death records were lost, of course, but the X-ray records survived. According to these records, Kolbe was X-rayed on two occasions, on 28 July 1941 for the last time! The witness speaks of confinement in a dark cell for 3 weeks, from July to 14 August 1941. That means that Kolbe was taken out of his dark cell to be given a quick X-ray, just before his intended murder! What curious people these Germans are! ”

        Well… I start to think that Father Maximilian Kolbe, certainly an honest man who lived a saintly Catholic life, once dead has been used for purposes somewhat alien to his will and mission on earth.

        On a different token, it is quite noteworthy that Father Maximilian Kolbe was a restless and diligent enemy of Freemasonry who would not pull his punches when the issue was “The Protocols”. How ironic (or perhaps is it not ?) that he would wind up in a Lager.

        Comment by Al Fontaine — November 18, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

        • I got this information from my own website. I began my website in 1997 and put up pages about my trip to Auschwitz in 1998. At that time, I did not put footnotes with the source of every statement that I made. I did not anticipate that anyone would use my website as a source. At that time, there was, as yet, no Wikipedia, so I did not model my website after Wikipedia.

          However, I have done a search on this subject and found the same information at
          This quote is from the website, cited above:
          Begin Quote
          The station broadcast sermons by Fr. Kolbe, as well as music from the friary’s orchestra. It is likely that Fr. Kolbe, with his technical background, was the designer and operator of the station, as well as one or more amateur radio stations at the friary. He used his amateur radio skills to vilify Nazi activities through his reports.

          On September 19, 1939, Fr. Kolbe and 35 other members of the order were arrested. They were released on December 8, 1939, but were prohibited from any further publications or broadcasts. Fr. Kolbe apparently made repeated requests of the Nazis to resume publication and broadcast operations.

          For the following year, Fr. Kolbe provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including approximately 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów. The Gestapo suspected he was aiding and abetting the “enemy”, but they didn’t have proof. In December 1940, The Nazis decided to grant one of Fr. Kolbe’s request to resume publication in order to have him incriminate himself. He published one more issue of the “Knight of the Immaculate Mother”.
          End Quote

          Comment by furtherglory — November 19, 2013 @ 6:14 am

          • Dear FurtherGlory:

            Thank you very much for your reply, research, explanation and for the link above. Thank you very much indeed.

            What an interesting fellow Father Kolbe was. So he was a restless educator who would not only spread the word of God in Europe and Japan & wage Culture War against Freemasonry and “The Protocols”, but would also make use of the cutting-edge technology of his time (radio) to spread the Catholic theology and his political viewpoints. We only wonder what he would do these days with the internet…

            I would only make one further point: in the article you quoted above it stands clear that the “vilifying of the Nazis” (whatever it means, and it may mean just the exercise of freedom of speech, as we do here) was done BEFORE the fall of Poland.

            Besides, in National-Socialist occupied Poland, if giving shelter to Jews was in itself a crime, it simply does not make sense to state, as is the case in the article, that “The Gestapo suspected he was aiding and abetting the ‘enemy’, but they didn’t have proof.” After all, how would it be possible for anyone to provide shelter to 2000 Jews (in a friary) and keep this action from Gestapo scrutiny? Was Father Kolbe using his printing press to fake documents? Let us not forget that to provide shelter to an innocent person is a very courageous and honorable deed. Pope Pius XII himself did it in Rome (September, 1943 – June, 1944).

            How much there still is for us to know, eh!? I wonder if there is a definitive biography out there from which we can learn why Father Kolbe was arrested. Is it possible for us to read a copy of the last edition of the “Knight of the Immaculate Mother” ?

            One last observation, please. I think it is very important to note that the National-Socialists allowed Father Kolbe to go back to his friary after a two-month time in custody (1939). Granted: he was prohibited from publishing and broadcasting, which is an act of violence of an occupying Power. But can we imagine what would have happened to Father Kolbe (and brothers) if his friary were located in the Soviet-occupied Poland…?

            Comment by Al Fontaine — November 21, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

        • I have now completed my reading of the paper written by Carlos Porter. Just as I suspected — Father Kolbe did not die in a “starvation cell.”

          When I visited Auschwitz in 1998, I was very suspicious of the
          “starvation cells.” I could not believe that prisoners had been killed that way. Now we find out that Father Kolbe had tuberculosis and was being treated for this. Back in those days, tuberculosis was far more common than it is now.

          I was also suspicious of the cell where the first gassing allegedly took place. Tourists were not allowed to see the inside of this cell, and I could not understand why.

          There were also the standing cells, which are reconstructions, done by the Soviet Union, although I was NOT told in 1998 that they were reconstructions. Allegedly, four men were put inside one cell and left standing overnight. What if a prisoner had died and the body was stiff. How did they get the body out of the cell? Later, I found out that a woman prisoner, Elanore Hodys was put into a standing cell at night for NINE WEEKS, and only let out to work during the day.

          Now we are finding out that none of these stories are true.

          Comment by furtherglory — November 19, 2013 @ 6:51 am

          • Dear FurtherGlory:

            What saddens me the most is that, seemingly, the Catholic Church is participating in the weaving of this tapestry of lies.

            Let us note that this tapestry of lies is highly detrimental to… the Catholic Church. Alas. Not to mention that a lie is a lie is a lie. What a sorry state of affairs.

            Thank you, FurtherGlory. Keep up your excellent work.

            Comment by Al Fontaine — November 21, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

            • As. Catholic, may I please remind you that perhaps the reason that we have heard different reports of the manner of Father Kolbe’s death is that new information may have become available from time to time and that any change in the history of the end of Father Kolbe’s life may have merely been a reflection of added/new/updated information rather than an out and out lie. I feel that the history of the end of Father Kolbe’s life came from other prisoners and perhaps some of that, initially, was hearsay, with information being updated as it became available. Regardless of how he died, or from what cause, he was a brave man who tried to provide comfort and allay suffering, and who also spoke out against an evil situation.

              Comment by myrosesindecember — August 10, 2015 @ 9:02 am

  5. In July 49, it was said that Father Kolbe had died from stravation and injection of carbolic acid.

    In August 55 it was said that Father Kolbe had died from starvation. It was also said that he was recovering from pneumonia at that time.

    In March 1960 it was said that Father Kolbe had died in a gas chamber.

    What is the true version of his death? Different versions generally mean “lie”. Maybe he just died from pneumonia…

    Comment by hermod — November 6, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  6. Voluntarily starving people is an inhuman torture, and it’s appropriate to lead all responsible to the gallows.

    Comment by Eager for Answers — July 22, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    • The starving of 10 prisoners at Auschwitz was a reprisal for the escape of one prisoner. A reprisal is intended to prevent future actions. The starving of Palestinians is not a reprisal action.

      Comment by furtherglory — July 23, 2012 @ 9:18 am

  7. This 1975 movie opens with archival footage of the chubby children paraded by the Soviets throughout Auschwitz, with this voiceover:

    “Captured documents prove that at Auschwitz, almost 100,000 people perished.
    Of these, 40,000 were children less than 14 years of age.
    At the time of their liberation, only 2,385 children were still alive …”

    You can watch it here.

    (Apart from the historical scenes opening the movie, you will not lose much by not watching it altogether.)

    Comment by Eager for Answers — July 22, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

    • My explanation for the chubby children who walked out of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp is that Dr. Josef Mengele was giving these children too much chocolate.

      As for the claim that only 2,385 children were still alive, this does not take into account that there were mothers with children who joined the march out of the camp. The mothers and children were the first ones out, on the march, to give them more time to get to the German border where they were put on trains. SS soldiers marched at the head of the column in order to tramp down the snow, making it easier for the women and children to walk.

      Comment by furtherglory — July 23, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  8. When you enter block 11, where many horrendous acts of evil and cruelty was carried out, you feel the strongest sorrow. When you then understand the types of evil and cruelty that was inflicted upon the inmates of these camps it’s heart rendering. This man knew he was going to his death; he knew he wouldn’t emerge from block 11 alive. Such sacrifice is overwhelmingly true of so many people, including non-Jews, who stood up and protected, stood up and were counted, in this fight against a truly evil regime.

    Comment by mogseyward — July 22, 2012 @ 10:13 am

    • When I entered Block 11, I was surprised to find that there was a courtroom where political prisoners were put on trial. Those who were convicted were then executed in the courtyard between Block 11 and Block 10.

      Comment by furtherglory — July 22, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

    • I don’t under stand why you describe it as a “truly evil regime’? Surely some parts of it were, but the vast majority of National Socialist Germany was amazing.

      Comment by Mic Filler — July 22, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

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