The Sandbag Times Issue No: 19


The Veterans Magazine

The Historic Tommy Atkins

Raymond Kolbe

was born on 8th

January 1894

near Lodz in Poland.

One day in his youth

when his mother scolded

him, Raymond

experienced a radical

change. “That night I

asked the mother of God

what was to become of

me. Then she came to me holding two crowns: one

white the other red. The white one meant that I

should persevere in purity and the red that I should

become a martyr. I said I would accept both.”

In 1910 Raymond became a conventual

Fransiscan in Luow, border of Russia. Raymond

took the name Maximilian Maria, after the

Blessed Virgin Mary. He studied in Rome and was

ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1910. When

he returned to Rome he

taught Church history in

a seminary, and went on

to build a friary west of

Warsaw. The friary

went on to house 762

Fransiscan monks and

printed eleven

periodicals, one with a

circulation of over a

million, including a

daily newspaper

In 1930 Father Kolbe went to Asia, where he

founded friaries in Nagasaki and in India. In

1936 he was recalled to supervise the original

friary in Warsaw.

On 1st September 1939 Poland was invaded by

Nazi Germany. Father Kolbe knew that the friary

would be seized and so sent most of the friars

home. After the town was captured by the

Germans, he was arrested by them (19th

September), but later released (8th December). He

refused to sign the Deutsche Volksliste, which

would have given him rights similar to those of

German citizens in exchange for recognizing his

German ancestry. Once released he continued

work at his friary, where he and other monks

provided shelter to 3,000 Polish refugees,

including 2,000 Polish Jews whom he hid from

German persecution in their monastery in

Niepokalanów. The friars shared everything with

the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them.

Kolbe received permission to continue

publishing religious works, though significantly

Trading Places – One Man’s

Life For Another

An Auschwitz story of love, sacrifice and hope, in a

place filled with cruelty, fear and death. The amazing

story of Maximilian Kolbe and Franciszek Gajowniczek

reduced in scope. The monastery continued to act

as a publishing house, issuing a number of anti-

Nazi German publications. However the Nazi’s

grew more and more suspicious of what was going

on at the monastery and on 17 February 1941, the

monastery was shut down by the German

authorities. That day Kolbe and four others were

arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in

the Pawiak prison. On 28 May, he was transferred

to Auschwitz I as prisoner #16670.

After the invasion of Poland in 1939, the town

named Osweicim and the surrounding cities

became known as Auschwitz. Auschwitz was

initiated as a work camp and was central to all of

Nazi Germany’s ‘plans’. At the entrance to the

camp was a sign reading ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ –

Work Will Set You Free.

In March 1941 Rudolf Hoss, a captain in the

SS (Schotzstaffel), loyal to Hitler, created

Auschwitz I, one of three Auschwitz camps, for

10,000 prisoners using Polish army barracks. In

his memoirs Hoss explained, “The task wasn’t

easy. In the shortest possible time, I had to create

a camp for 10,000 prisoners using an existing

complex of buildings which were well constructed,

but were completely run down and swarming with

vermin.” Hoss admitted that Auschwitz was cruel

and prisoners were treated brutally. Hitler

developed a euthanasia program which was 15 |

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