Upon closing the door to the death cell in the terrifying bloc nr 11, a Nazi German soldier allegedly told those sentenced to death “you will wither like tulips.” “At first, the prisoners were screaming out of despair, blaspheming against God. Maximilian #Kolbe who sacrificed his life for another prisoner Franciszek Gajowniczek. In the summer of 1941, Franciszek Gajowniczek, a Polish soldier, was one of thousands held prisoner in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. They were killed in 1945 during a Soviet bombardment. Then a German doctor came and killed them with injections of carbolic acid. Gajowniczek was present in Rome to witness official church recognition of the priest who had saved his life. Kolbe sacrificed his life, Franciszek Gajowniczek. Kolbe was beatified and one year after Kolbe’s beatification, Franciszek Gajowniczek and nearly 150,000 pilgrims went to Auschwitz on the anniversary of his … In the picture: the camp death certificate of Maximilian Kolbe issued on 19 August 1941. "Now," she added, "he has gone to Kolbe. On another note; try to be respectful if you go. Joining his wife after the war, he found out their sons had died due to the bombing of his hometown. He said he wanted to go instead of me,” Franciszek Gajowniczek recounted in 1946. " The priest also contended that he was "elderly," Mr. Gajowniczek said. The Mass at the former German #Auschwitz camp on the 78th anniv. Watch this space. He was well educated attending the Pontifical University in Rome where he earned degrees in philosophy and theology. Some prisoners had attempted to escape, and the Nazi response was to kill prisoners as a lesson against trying such things. When he outlived many of the other men, he was killed by lethal injection. Article commenting is temporarily unavailable while we carry out essential upgrade work. He accepted both. In gratitude for the self-sacrifice of Maximilian Kolbe, Gajowniczek devoted much of the rest of his life to promoting knowledge of the Franciscan, giving talks about the saint in various countries. My children! Franciszek Gajowniczek confirmed that Father Kolbe was encouraging other prisoners. The church defended the friar, who was imprisoned in a roundup of Polish intellectuals, as reflecting some bias that was characteristic of the country and the times. His first wife, Helena, died in 1977. Gajowniczek was one of 10 inmates of the Nazi camp selected for death in reprisal for the escape of another prisoner. At the age of 12, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary, who offered him two paths in life – one of purity and one of martyrdom. Franciszek Gajowniczek, a Roman Catholic, was born in Strachomin near Mińsk Mazowiecki. In his sermon, he mentioned the example of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish friar who offered to take the place of a stranger, Franciszek Gajowniczek, condemned to be starved to death at Auschwitz. Franciszek Gajowniczek Dead; Priest Died for Him at Auschwitz. The priest was Maximilian Kolbe and Gajowniczek lived to see the day 40 years later when, in October 1982, Kolbe was canonised by a fellow-Pole, Pope John Paul II, at St Peter's in Rome. One of them, Polish army sergeant Franciszek Gajowniczek reportedly cried out in anguish that he … He was a professional soldier who took part in the defense of Wieluń as well as Warsaw in September 1939. Father Maksymilian Kolbe (actually: Rajmund Kolbe) was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp on May 28, 1941 from the Pawiak prison in Warsaw. One of those chosen, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out in desperation, ‘My wife, my children!’ On seeing his terror, Kolbe stepped forward and took Gajowniczek’s place. In the underground cell the priest sought to console the condemned men, leading them in prayers and hymns. Francziszek Gajowniczek: born Stradchomin, Poland 1901; died Brzeg, Poland 13 March 1995. In 1971 Fr. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. He spent more than five years in Auschwitz and in another Nazi camp, Sachenhausen. As a prisoner of Auschwitz (no. Mr. Gajowniczek attended the canonization ceremony in St. Peter's Square and spent much of his life after World War II bearing witness to the sacrifice made for him by Father Kolbe. There, the difference between life and death often remained up to the macabre game … After putting pen to paper, I finally managed to get some sleep. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Franciszek Gajowniczek–the stranger who Father Kolbe sacrificed himself to save. Gajowniczek was … He joined the Polish army as a young man and was given a commendation for his role in the 1920 Battle of the Vistula, when the Poles defeated the Red Army which had moved in to crush Polish independence. Mr. Gajowniczek, one of several prisoners selected by the Nazis to die by starvation in a dungeon at Auschwitz called the "hunger bunker," survived because the Rev. of death of Fr. One of the 10 selected to die, Franciszek Gajowniczek, began to cry: My wife! The commandant agreed to the switch. 16670) on 29 July 1941, he sacrificed his life to save a person selected for starvation death after an escape of a prisoner. Gajowniczek was captured by the Gestapo in Zakopane and sentenced to forced labour in Tarnów. This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. During th… Gajowniczek had been sent to Auschwitz concentration camp from Gestapo prison in Tarnów. (Photo by Wojtek Laski/Getty Images) I won’t ever forget my visit nor will I forget the fluttering wings of the butterfly that danced past a gas chamber that day. His life ended on March 22 2017, after he had killed five pedestrians and left others with “catastrophic injuries” by driving into them on Westminster Bridge, and stabbed a … On a visit to the United States last December, Mr. Gajowniczek told the story himself: "Father Kolbe told the commandant, 'I want to go instead of the man who was selected. Mr. Gajowniczek, one of several prisoners selected by the Nazis to die by starvation in a dungeon at Auschwitz called the "hunger bunker," survived because the Rev. Gajowniczek was born in the Polish town of Stradchomin in 1901. Knowing Gajowniczek was married with a family, the priest stepped forward, asking to take his place in the underground starvation cell. At the end of July 1941, one prisoner escaped from the camp, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick ten men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts. Francziszek Gajowniczek lived to the ripe old age of 93 thanks to the self-sacrifice of a Polish Franciscan priest in Auschwitz in July 1941. Mr. Gajowniczek was 41. When the church decided to canonize Father Kolbe, the specter of anti-Semitism in his past arose. POLAND - 1971: Franciszek Gajowniczek Saint Maximilian Kolbe's portrait in the background. When he alone remained alive, the guards killed him with a lethal injection. Franciszek Gajowniczek survived to tell the story and died in 1995 at the age of 95. In July 1941 in the Auschwitz concentration camp, a Nazi officer selected a group of prisoners to die a slow death by starvation. Francziszek Gajowniczek lived to the ripe old age of 93 thanks to the self-sacrifice of a Polish Franciscan priest in Auschwitz in July 1941. He regarded himself as no more than an instrument of her will, and the only time he was known to lose his temper was in defence of her honour. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. 11. Upon hearing that he was sentenced to die, Franciszek Gajowniczek - a sergeant in the Polish army and father of two - burst into tears, prompting the … Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. His love for Mary Immaculate now became the devouring characteristic of his life. He was religious from a young age. His widow, Janina Gajowniczek, told The Associated Press that her husband "had a deep sense of Kolbe's presence and had a feeling Kolbe will know when to take him. He traveled across Europe and the United States, giving talks about the priest and helping dedicate new churches in his name. Along with nine others he was taken to an underground bunker where they were to be starved to death. Poland, in 1971. "He was blamed for this at the camp. Father Kolbe was then 47. In 1971 Fr. Krakow, Poland, (CNA) - 9 July 1941 | After an escape from #Auschwitz of a Polish prisoner Zygmunt Pilawski SS authorities selected 10 prisoners for starvation death. Franciszek Gajowniczek, a husband and father, was one of these sentenced to death. He shouted out that he had a wife and children and the inmates became brutal and mean to him. Ten prisoners were chosen at random to be starved to death. The man that cried out for his family that day, who Maximilian gave his life for, was named Franciszek Gajowniczek. 29 July 1941 | After an escape from #Auschwitz of a Polish prisoner Zygmunt Pilawski SS authorities selected 10 prisoners for starvation death. I will never see them again! He was liberated there by the Allies, after spending five years, five months, and nine days in Nazi camps in total. A year later, Kolbe and his brother enrolled at the Franciscan seminary where he professed his final vows in 1914. Father Maximilian Kolbe offered his life in the man's place. He always expressed the desire that he should be buried in the Franciscan cemetery at the monastery, a wish respected by his family. Franciszek Gajowniczek - retired soldier, former prisoner of German concentration camp Auschwitz, whose life was saved by Saint Maximilian Kolbe. He arrived at Auschwitz on 8 October 1940. He has a wife and family. I am a Catholic priest.' Gajowniczek said he and the other prisoners in the death lineup realized that Kolbe's gesture was the work of God because the Nazi commander agreed to it. During his time in the death cell, Maximilian led the prisoners in prayer. He never got to see his sons again. Kolbe volunteered to take his place. 1. Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? The Franciscan priest-martyr Maximilian Kolbe died at Auschwitz in 1941. One of them, Franciszek Gajowniczek, begged for mercy. He survived the camp, and he was able to go back home to his family after the war. After the reconstitution of sovereign Poland, he moved to Warsaw in 1921, married, and had two sons. We apologise for any inconvenience caused but are excited to bring you a host of new commenting features very soon. At this Maximilian Kolbe stepped forward and asked to die in his place. Gajowniczek survived the camp and died in 1995. In 1940, as a sergeant, Gajowniczek was captured by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz, where he was branded with the number 5659. When a camp prisoner appeared t… The switch was permitted; after all his cellmates died, Kolbe (prisoner 16670) was put to death with an injection of carbolic acid. Franciszek Gajowniczek, later transported to Sachsenhausen, survived until the liberation of the camp by the U.S. forces in 1945. … Gajowniczek was spared. The wish was granted and the priest died there the following month. {{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}. I am alone. After ten days, on Aug. 14, 1941, he and three others remained alive. ", See the article in its original context from. Kolbe was beatified and one year after Kolbe’s beatification, Franciszek Gajowniczek and nearly 150,000 pilgrims went to Auschwitz on the anniversary of his beatification. Gajowniczek was sent from Auschwitz to Sachsenhausen concentration camp on October 25, 1944. "He felt guilty," said the Rev. They lost a priest and confidant.". He was by now in an advanced state of tuberculosis, and he felt himself overshadowed by death. Thaddeus Horbowy, who translated for Mr. Gajowniczek during his visit to the St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Houston last year. This interpretative biography is based upon his writings and first-hand testimonies from people who knew him. On May 28, 1941, he was imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Father Kolbe was beatified in 1971 and in 1982, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Father Kolbe a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. On 14 August 1941, he was murdered with a phenol injection. When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, "My wife! Two months later he offered his life for Franciszek Gajowniczek, designated by the SS to death by starvation in reprisal for the escape of one of the prisoners. His mission to "repay a debt", as he put it, was rewarded in 1971, when Kolbe was beatified by Pope Paul VI, and reached its climax when he was declared a saint in 1982. The switch was permitted; after all his cellmates died, Kolbe (prisoner 16670) was put to death with an injection of carbolic acid. The survivor of this death camp provided inspiring introductory remarks which included his first sentence: “I want to express my thanks, for the gift of life.” He also spoke out against Freemasons and Communists, movements he also associated with Jews. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. Maximillian Kolbe, born in 1894, was a Polish Franciscan friar. He died on 14 August 1941, murdered by an injection of phenol in the basement of the so-called Block of Death. My children! Father Maximilian Kolbe was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1971 and canonized by Pope John Paul II on 10 October 1982 with Franciszek Gajowniczek in attendance. When a prisoner escaped from the camp, the Nazis selected 10 others to be killed by starvation in reprisal for the escape. Gajowniczek was appointed by President Lech Walesa to the committee which organised last January's commemoration at Auschwitz of the 50th anniversary of the camp's liberation towards the end of the war. Maksymilian Kolbe volunteered to take his place. One of them, Franciszek Gajowniczek, begged for mercy. He was 94. Between 1940-45 Germans incarcerated at least 464 priests, seminarians & monks as well as 35 nuns in the Auschwitz camp. — Franciszek Gajowniczek Grave (grób Franciszka Gajowniczka) - panoramio (1).jpg 4,000 × 2,672; 4.78 MB Franciszek Gajowniczek Grave (grób Franciszka Gajowniczka) - … He was the creator of a major religious publishing concern, and excerpts from its publications indicated open disapproval of what he considered an excessive presence of Jews in Polish economic life. Franciszek Gajowniczek (November 15, 1901 – March 13, 1995) was a Polish army sergeant whose life was saved by priest St. Maximilian Kolbe by volunteering to die in his place. After his release, he and his wife Janina settled in Brzeg, near Opole in southern Poland, remaining there until his death. Read our full mailing list consent terms here. Eventually, after 15 days in a cell without food or drink, he was killed with a phenol injection and his body was burnt in Crematorium No. Want an ad-free experience?Subscribe to Independent Premium. Mr. Gajowniczek spent five years, five months and nine days in Auschwitz. When the punishment was imposed because another inmate had escaped, Mr. Gajowniczek, who was a farmer in civilian life, pleaded that he should be spared because he had a wife and children. He also kept in close contact with Fr Maximilian's Franciscan community at Niepokolanow, near Warsaw. Many of these witnesses the author himself has known and interviewed, including the man for whom Fr. At the turn of July and August 1941, after the escape of one of the prisoners, the Germans appointed ten randomly selected prisoners, in retaliation condemning them to death by starvation in the basement of block No. Franciszek Gajowniczek, the Polish army sergeant whose life was spared when a Franciscan monk took his death sentence at Auschwitz 53 years ago, died on Monday in the Polish city of Brzeg. Last December, at Niepokolanow, he took part in commemorations marking the centenary of Kolbe's birth. The Man He Sacrificed for Lived to 94 Franciszek Gajowniczek, the man that Kolbe had stood in for, survived the Holocaust and died in Brzeg in 1995. He was captured while crossing the border with Slovakia after the defeat of the Modlin Fortress … Each day, he celebrated Mass for the other starving prisoners and prayed and sang with them. 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