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«Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy The Testimony of Survivors Edited and compiled by Mark Paul Polish Educational Foundation in ...»

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Martyrologium, volume 4, p.292; Stanisław Zygarowicz and Witold Jedynak, eds., Świadkowie wiary Diecezji Przemyskiej z lat 1939–1964 (Przemyśl, Wydawnictwo Archidiecezji Przemyskiej: 2001), pp.85–86, Jolanta

Chodorska, ed., Godni synowie naszej Ojczyzny: Świadectwa nadesłane na apel Radia Maryja (Warsaw:

Wydawnictwo Sióstr Loretanek, 2002), Part Two, pp.213–14; Pomoc Polaków dla ludności żydowskiej na Rzeszowszczyźnie 1939–1945 (Rzeszów: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej–Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2008), pp.77–78.

According to a family source, [57] Rev. Paweł Szczygieł, the retired pastor of the parish of Jakubowice near Nowy Sącz, was arrested on April 14, 1942 for sneaking food into the ghetto in Nowy Sącz, which he used to visit under the pretext of caring for his parishioners. He was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp where he died on October 31, 1942. See Hanna Haska, “Poland’s Holocaust—żywi świadkowie historii, czyli 45-lecie ‘Kacetowców,’” Głos Polski (Toronto), January 19–25, 1999.

Memoirs of Jewish survivors also contain additional examples of Polish priests who were believed to have been executed for their rescue efforts on behalf of Jews. Joseph Riwash, Resistance and Revenge 1939–1949 (Montreal: n.p., 1981), p.144, records that [58] a priest in Wołkołata in northeastern Poland, Rev. Romuald Dronicz, who, like many other priests in the area, fed and sheltered Jews, did not take advantage of an opportunity to escape, and was exexcuted by the Gestapo in July 1942. See also Zieliński, Życie religijne w Polsce pod okupacją 1939–1945, pp.23 and 44.

According to the memoirs of Silverman, Smuschkowitz, and Smuszkowicz, From Victims to Victors, pp.246–47 and 325, [59] & [60] two priests from Ikaźń and Prozoroki were shot in a forest outside of Głębokie in northeastern Poland in March 1942 after being arrested for imploring their parishioners to assist Jews and not to take part in persecution directed against them. Written statements of Peter (Pejsach) Smuszkowicz, dated November 18–23 and November 20, 1993 (in the possession of the author) confirm this. See also Ariel Machnes and Rina Klinov, eds, Darkness and Desolation: In Memory of the communities of Braslaw, Dubene, Jaisi, Jod, Kislowszczizna, Okmienic, Opsa, Plusy, Rimszan, Slobodka, Zamosz, Zaracz (Tel Aviv: Association of Braslaw and 281 Surroundings in Israel and America and Ghetto Fighters’ House and Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, n.d.), pp.571 and 575. According to Polish sources, Rev. Władysław Maćkowiak, pastor of Ikaźń, and his vicar, Rev. Stanisław Pyrtek, were arrested in December 1941 for their ardent preaching and illegally teaching religion to children. They were detained in the jail in Brasław, and later in Głębokie, along with Rev. Mieczysław Bohatkiewicz, who was arrested in Dryssa in January 1942. All three of them were executed by the Germans on March 4, 1942 in Borek forest near Berezwecz, outside Głębokie. See Zieliński, Życie religijne w Polsce pod okupacją 1939–1945, pp.38–39, 58; Moroz and Datko, Męczennicy za wiarę 1939–1945, pp.9–18; Tadeusz Krahel, “Nasi Męczennicy,” Czas Miłosierdzia: Białostocki Biuletyn Kościelny, May 1999 and his “Błogosławieni Męczennicy z Berezwecza,” Czas Miłosierdzia: Białostocki Biuletyn Kościelny, March 2001.

Another Jewish survivor, Wili Fink, mentions [61] an unidentified Polish priest in the Wilno area, “who paid with his life for those (birth) certificates given to Jews.” See Bartoszewski and Lewin, Righteous Among Nations, p.397.

Francesca Bram (née Grochowska) recalls that [62] the village priest of Grodziec demonstrated tremendous compassion and organized community assistance for the Jews expelled from Konin to surrounding villages in the summer of 1940. According to her testimony, “The Germans sought an opportunity to arrest him and this happened after he helped the Jews in Grodziec. Soon afterwards came news of his death.” See M. Gelbart, ed., Kehilat Konin be-Frihata u-ve Hurbana (The Community of Konin: Its Flowering and Destruction) (Tel Aviv: Association of Konin Jews in Israel, 1968), pp.526–27, as cited in Richmond, Konin, p.163.

Yehudis Pshenitse of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki recounts the story of [63] an unnamed parish priest from her town to whom she, as a young girl, turned to assistance after being separated from her family. Not only did the priest shelter her but also, after he was reported to the Germans, he refused to surrender her. Having been beaten mercilessly by the Germans and left to die, the priest had the young girl brought to him, blessed her, and implored his housekeeper to find a safe hiding place for her. He died in her presence. “His body was pierced in several places, and his face was unrecognizable.” See Kugelmass and Boyarin, From A Ruined Garden, pp.177–78.

The Grajewo Memorial Book mentions [64] Rev. Aleksander Pęza of Grajewo, who “tirelessly” called on the Christian population, at the daily masses, not to cooperate with the Germans and their anti-Semitic provocations. When word of this reached the Germans, he was shot. See George Gorin, ed., Grayever yizker-bukh (Grayevo Memorial Book) (New York: United Brayever Relief Committee, 1950), pp.xxxii–xxxiii. Witold Jemielity gives the date of Rev. Pęza’s execution as July 15, 1941—see Witold Jemielity, “Martyrologia księży diecezji łomżyńskiej 1939–1945,” Rozporządzenia Urzędowe Łomżyńskiej Kurii Diecezjalnej, no. 8–9 (1974): p.53; whereas Martyrologium, volume 2, p.184 gives the date as August 15, 1943.





Another source of danger for priests, and Poles in general, who assisted Jews in Poland’s southeastern provinces, were the activities of Ukrainian nationalists who waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing aimed at the nonUkrainian elements, particularly the Poles and the Jews. A case in point is Rev. Błażej Nowosad (supra [27]), who was murdered in Potok Górny near Tomaszów Lubelski. Similar examples are cited by Edward Prus,

Holocaust po banderowsku: Czy Żydzi byli w UPA? (Wrocław: Nortom, 1995), pp.148 and 150:

[65] Rev. Antoni Wierzbowski of Bybło (Rohatyn county, voivodship of Stanisławów) was murdered by Ukrainian nationalists in November 1943 along with a school teacher after refusing to betray the whereabouts of five Jews hidden in a shelter—see also Urszula Przybyła, “Pamięci tych, co rozdawali miłość,” Słowo–Dziennik Katolicki (Warsaw), November 28, 1995;

[66] Rev. Andrzej Kraśnicki from Jazłowiec (Buczacz county, voivodship of Tarnopol) was tortured, abducted,

–  –  –

[67] When the Gestapo took a group of Jews from Kolno through the village of Borkowo near Łomża on July 9, 1941, the housekeeper rang the church bell to announce the morning mass. Believing this to have been done as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish prisoners passing near the church, they arrested the pastor, Rev. Stanisław Rejmentowski, and his housekeeper. They disappeared without a trace, and were likely executed in a nearby forest. See Stanisław Łukomski, “Wspomnienia,” in Rozporządzenia urzędowe Łomżyńskiej Kurii Diecezjalnej, no. 5–7 (May–July) 1974: p.62; Witold Jemielity, “Martyrologium księzy diecezji łomżyńskiej 1939–1945,” in Rozporządzenia urzędowe Łomżyńskiej Kurii Diecezjalnej, no. 8–9 (August-September) 1974: p.55; Jan Żaryn, “Przez pomyłkę: Ziemia łomżyńska w latach 1939–1945. Rozmowa z ks. Kazimierzem Łupińskim z parafii Szumowo,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 8–9 (September–October 2002): pp.112–17.

Relying on Soviet and Jewish sources, Israeli historian Leonid Smilovitskii (Smilovitsky) has confirmed that the Germans executed priests in a number of towns of northeastern Poland for helping Jews (Brasław, Brześć,

Grodno, Wilejka, Mołodeczno, and Pińsk), and mentions some of those priests by name:

[68] Rev. Mieczysław Kubik, the dean and pastor of Nieśwież (formerly rector of the church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord in Nowogródek), [69] Rev. Michał Dalecki, the dean and pastor of Nowogródek, [70] Rev. Tadeusz Grzesiak, the pastor of Kleck, as well as the aforementioned Rev. Władysław Grobelny (of Kobryń) [supra 11], Rev. Józef Kuczyński (of Wsielub) [supra 38], Rev. Fabian Poczobutt-Odlanicki (of Łuniniec) [supra 17], Rev. Jan Urbanowicz (of Brześć) [supra 5], and others. See Leonid Smilovitskii, Katastrofa evreev v Belorussii 1941–1944 gg. (Tel Aviv: Biblioteka Matveia Chernogo, 2000), p.132. Another priest identified by Smilovitskii as having helped Jewish partisans is Rev. Aleksander Hanusewicz of Raków.

According to Polish sources, Rev. Kubik, the dean and pastor of Nieśwież, was executed in Baranowicze in 1942 for contacts with partisans and for assisting Jews. See Zieliński, Życie religijne w Polsce pod okupacją 1939– 1945, p.84; Laryssa Michajlik, “‘Sąsiedzi’ obok ‘sąsiadów’? Ratowanie Żydów przez chrześcijan na terytorium Białorusi w latach 1941–1944,” in Krzysztof Jasiewicz, ed., Świat niepożegnany: Żydzi na dawnych ziemiach wschodnich Rzeczypospolitej w XVIII–XX wieku (Warsaw and London: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN, Rytm, and Polonia Aid Foundation Trust, 2004), p.737. This information is also confirmed by Józef Halperin,

who was imprisoned with Rev. Kubik in Baranowicze. See Józef Halperin, Ludzie są wszędzie (Warsaw:

ASPRA-JR, 2002), p.173.

[71] Rev. Aleksander Ciszkiewicz, rector of an auxiliary church in the parish of Niedźwiedzica (Pińsk diocese), was arrested by the Belorussian police during a hunt for Jews and handed over to the Gestapo. He was executed in Hult 1942 near Nieśwież. Ibid. (Michajlik in Jasiewicz), p.735.

[72] Rev. Zygmunt Milkowski, pastor of Wiszniew, was arrested for helping Jews and perished in the jail in Wołożyn in 1943. Ibid. (Michajlik in Jasiewicz), pp.736–77.

[73] Rev. Antoni Udalski, formerly the pastor of Wołożyn, was arrested in Soleczniki Wielkie near Wilno by the Lithuanian police in mid–1942 for helping Jews. He agreed to baptize a child born to a Jewish mother and a Polish father named Dratwicki, which led the arrest and execution of the priest and godparents. Rev. Udalski was

put to death in Wołożyn in 1943. Ibid. (Michajlik in Jasiewicz), p.737; Tadeusz Krahel, “Ksiądz Antoni Udalski:

Zginął za ratowanie Żydów,” W służbie Miłosierzia (Białystok), no. 4 (April 2007).

[74] Lily Fenster, who passed as a Christian, describes the execution of a priest she witnessed in Łuków for the crime of helping Jews. (Testimony of Lily Fenster, November 8 and 10, 1994, Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor

Oral History Archive, University of Michigan at Dearborn, Internet:

–  –  –

Not all of the cases cited can be definitively confirmed as having been the victims of German repression solely for helping Jews. Often there was more than one reason for a priest’s arrest and execution. In these instances, although the exact charge levelled by the Germans may not have been known, the priest in question was known to have been active in rendering assistance to Jews. In some cases, the names of the priests in question have been forgotten. (These incidents are usually based on the recollection of Jews recorded many years after the fact.) Furthermore, not all of these cases have been confirmed or recorded in Wiktor Jacewicz and Jan Woś’s monumental register of members of the Polish clergy killed during the German occupation, Martyrologium polskiego duchowieństwa rzymskokatolickiego pod okupacją hitlerowską w latach 1939–1945, 5 volumes (Warszawa: Akademia Teologii Katolickiej, 1977–1981).

Many additional examples that cannot be confirmed independently at the present time are recorded in Franciszek Kącki, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego: Polskie duchowieństwo katolickie a Żydzi w latach okupacji hitlerowskiej (Warszawa: Chrześcijańskie Stowarzyszenie Społeczne, 1968). Some repressions of clergymen attributed to assistance rendered to Jews have been disproved or are doubtful. For example, there is the case of the Salesian priests from the residence on Ks. Siemca Street in Warsaw, cited in Wroński and Zwolakowa, Polacy Żydzi 1939–1945, p.352. According to Adina Blady Szwajger, a Jewish woman who worked in a child care centre of the Central Relief Council (RGO) housed in the Salesian Fathers’ residence, the priests and the secular staff who were heavily involved in the Polish underground were taken away by the Germans in the spring of 1944 with no explanation and hanged in the depopulated ghetto. The reason for their execution remains unknown. See her

memoirs, I Remember Nothing More: The Warsaw Children’s Hospital and the Jewish Resistance (London:

Collins Havrill, 1990), pp.122–24.

A number of priests who were wanted or arrested for assisting Jews managed to escape and hide or survived in prison. For example, Rev. Julian Chruścicki (Chróścicki), pastor of Włochy (a Warsaw suburb), who was active in the Central Relief Council (RGO), was arrested on August 18, 1942 and imprisoned in Pawiak and Majdanek;

Rev. Władysław Miś, pastor of All Saints parish in Kraków, was arrested on September 1, 1942, for issuing a false birth certificate to a Jewish woman and survived three concentration camps—see Martyrologium, volume 3, p.106; Rev. Ignacy Świrski, professor at the Stefan Batory University in Wilno, had to hide from the Germans near the village of Turgiele for two and a half years—see Zieliński, Życie religijne w Polsce pod okupacją 1939– 1945, p.52; Rev. Mieczysław Kmita, curate of a parish church in Białystok, was warned of his impending arrest

and fled to Śliwna where he hid until the end of the war—see Kazimierz Litwiejko, “Działalność społecznooświatowa Kościoła w południowo-zachodniej części archidiecezji wileńskiej 1939–1945,” Nasza przeszłość:

Studia z dziejów Kościoła i kultury katolickiej w Polsce (Kraków: Instytut Wydawniczy Księży Misjonarzy), no.

81 (1994), p.303.



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