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August 14, 2015

Anniversary of the death of Auschwitz martyr Father Maksymilian Kolbe

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:24 pm

You can read a news article about the anniversary of the death of Father Maksymilian Kolbe here.

Friday [August 14, 2015] marks the 74th anniversary of the death of the Polish Franciscan monk, Father Maksymilian Kolbe, who offered his life in exchange for another inmate’s in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz.
Father Maksymilian Kolbe who did in a starvation cell at Auschwitz

Father Maksymilian Kolbe who was put into a starvation cell at the Auschwitz death camp

The prison cell where Father Kolbe died is now a shrine

The prison cell of Father Kolbe is now a shrine

It was in cell No. 18, one of the starvation cells in the main Auschwitz camp, that Father Maksymilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar, was kept until he was near death. According to my tour guide, on my trip to Auschwitz in 1998, Father Kolbe was taken out of his cell after three weeks and given a more merciful death by an injection to the heart.

Father Kolbe had been arrested by the German Gestapo on February 17, 1941 because he had hidden 2,000 Jews in his friary 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-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer Karl Fritsch, the Lagerf├╝hrer (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.

Father Kolbe was canonized a saint in the Catholic Church on Oct. 10, 1982 in a ceremony held at the Auschwitz I camp. The cell where Father Kolbe was imprisoned has been decorated with a commemorative plaque and flowers. Note the window at the top of the photo above; you can see a tourist standing in the courtyard between Block 10 and Block 11.

Block 11 where Father Kolbe was kept in a prison cell in the basement

Block 11 where Father Kolbe was kept in a prison cell in the basement

Door into a starvation cell in Block 11 at Auschwitz

Door into a starvation cell in Block 11 at Auschwitz