Friday, April 3, 2015

CHRIST IN DACHAU -Maximilian Kolbe

Rev. Lenz writes with clarity and forgiveness in this book about a priest's experience in a Nazi Concentration Camp.  The horrors faced by the Germans and Austrian priests were nothing compared to the sufferings of the Polish priests.  The Polish priests were treated much as the Jews were treated in Dachau, but Father Lenz doesn't spend time on the horrors experienced by others in the camps.  He can't, he can only present the sufferings he and his comrades experienced, that was all his being could accommodate.

 2,720 clerics - 2400 Catholic Priests, lay brothers and seminarians, as well as ministers of various other religious denominations - representatives of 134 dioceses and 24 nations, were interned in Dachau concentration camps.  1,034 lost their lives.  (The following is from Fr. Lenz.)

"One of those was Father Maximilian Kolbe.  He took the place of a man with six children.  On June 30th 1941, a fellow prisoner escaped.  So ten other prisoners were chosen at random and ordered to die as hostages.  They were stripped naked and thrown together into a cell in the notorious "death block."  From then on they were given nothing to eat or drink until they died.  As is well known, thirst is an even greater torment than hunger for its victims, causing fever, delirium and ultimate madness.

"Kr. Kolbe led the pitiful group of prisoners in prayer and hymns until they could no longer speak.  After 14 days only he was still alive, whereupon they killed him with an injection of carbolic acid.  An eyewitness describes his face in death as 'radiant like that of a saint.'"

"In the summer of 1942 many of our community were no longer capable of standing or even of
sitting upright.  'I offer my life for my sins and the sins of the world' were the last words of one of my priest comrades.  Priests died all around us and they left us so peacefully, so easily, with such joy.  They just slipped quietly out of our lives, home to God their Creator."

I would like to think I have that kind of faith.  But I have not been tested to this degree.  What about you?