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POles rescuing Jews(Bishops, clargy, ordinary poeple

Rev. PAwel Rytel-Andrianik and others|Monday, June 1, 2015

Priests and the Jewish People at the Time of the Holocaust Reflections in Light of the Newest Research Heroism Amid Terror

 
The Marzheuser Lecture, Cincinnati, OH, November 24, 2014 Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik University of Oxford/PUSC (www.pusc.it) email: x.rytel@gmail.com; tweeter: @xrytel The whole lecture can be watched on St. James Project Platform: http://stjamesproject.org/2014/11/25/2014-marzheuser-lecture-video/ One may ask: Has not enough been written about the Holocaust? When you type the word “Holocaust” into amazon.com you see that there are 30,550 hits for book results, movies, and other resources on the subject. Therefore, people sometimes assume that we know everything or almost everything about the Holocaust. It is argued in this lecture that such an assumption is mistaken, and there are many areas of Holocaust studies that should be developed for a holistic and proper education. To this end, an image may be helpful. It is widely known that Swiss cheese has holes (or gaps) which are known as “eyes.” If there are many holes – or “eyes,” it means that it is a good cheese. Swiss cheese without these “eyes” is called “blind.” In scholarship, it is precisely the other way around. If there is a topic of research with these so called “eyes,” or gaps in our knowledge, people who follow this scholarship are “blind,” and they can make wrong assumptions. This Lecture The Marzheuser Lecture has the goal to fill one of the gaps in the Holocaust studies, which is the relationship between Priests and the Jewish People at the time of the Holocaust. In order to proceed in a clear way, the lecture is divided in three parts, namely: 1) Priests and the Jewish People; 2) Bishops and the Jewish People; 3) Pope Pius XII and the Jewish People. This research is based on about 17,000 interviews; 10,000 pages of documents; extensive research in archives, libraries, and museums, especially in the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem, which is a center for Holocaust studies. About 70 percent of the collected material was never published in English.1 1 The material is collected in the Righteous for the World Foundation Archive (RFWA) in Poland. 2 1. Priests and the Jewish People at the time of the Holocaust The focus of this research is the territory of German occupied Poland, because before the Second World War the largest Jewish Community in the world was in this country. Let’s look at some statistics to get the whole picture: According to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, approximately 9.5 million Jewish people lived in Europe in 1933. This was about 1.7% of the total European population and 60 percent of the world’s Jewish population at that time, which was estimated at 15.3 million. About 3,000,000 Jewish People were in Poland, and 2,500,000 were in the European part of the Soviet Union. Jewish life was flourishing in Poland and Eastern Europe up to the very beginning of the Second World War, when the German Nazis first began to discriminate against the Jewish people and then proceeded to exterminate them in a cruel plan called “Aktion Reinhard,” named after Reinhard Heydrich, one of the German Nazi officers (1904-1942). At the same time, the Poles were also victims of the German Nazis. It is not widely known that in Second World War about 3,000,000 Polish Jews and about 3,000,000 Polish Christians, mainly Catholics, were killed. According to the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem, about 6,000,000 Jewish People were killed throughout all the German occupied countries. Most of them were sent to the extermination camps in German occupied Poland such as Treblinka, Auschwitz, Bełżec, Sobibór and others. In addition, entire Jewish communities were shot just outside the places they had been living for centuries. According to the Nazi rules, the German occupied Poland was the only country where providing help to the Jewish People was punishable by death, not only to the person who helped, but also to members of their family. In the area of Treblinka alone, where I come from, five people were killed just for giving a piece of bread to the Jews, almost 40 other people were shot or sent to the extermination camps for providing shelter to them.2 Very rarely will you see a picture that documents this, but recently, almost 70 years after the Second World War, a photo was discovered that was taken just after the extermination of more than 20 Poles for sheltering Jewish People. The picture was taken in Cegłow-Cisie, about 50 miles East of Warsaw.3 2 P. Rytel-Andrianik, “Polacy z okolic Treblinki zamordowani za pomoc Żydom,” [Poles from the Area of Treblinka Killed for Helping Jews] 167-172. 3 W. Bartoszewski, Z. Lewinówna, Ten jest z Ojczyzny mojej [He Is from My Homeland] 624-625; E. Kopówka, P. Rytel-Andrianik, Dam im imię na wieki (Iz 56,5) [I Will Give Them an Everlasting Name] 128-129, 164-166. 3 Poles killed for helping the Jewish People (Cisie, East of Warsaw). Photo Credit: Private Archive Similar situations were abundant in Poland and they show the true history of the Holocaust, which can be described with a word from the title of this lecture, namely… Horror. Sometimes people say that it was hell on earth. In such a difficult and dangerous situation there were many unknown heroes, who amid the Horror risked their lives and lives of their families to save the Jewish People. One of the most important Jewish historians of our time, prof. Anthony Polonsky wrote the introduction of a book entitled: “I Will Give Them an Everlasting Name” (Is 56:5): Poles Saving Jews in the Area of Treblinka”: Around 40-60,000 Jews survived thanks to Polish assistance. It took more than one Pole to save a Jewish person. “This gives a figure of between 160,000 and 360,000 Poles who, at the risk of their own lives and those of their families, helped rescue Jews.”4 Among the people who risked their lives to save the Jewish People were many priests. According to the statistics, in 1939 about 16,000 priests were in Poland. During the Second World War 4,000 priest were imprisoned in various extermination camps. Thus, in various parishes remained about 12,000 priests. Now is the crucial question: Were they involved in helping the Jewish People? Did some of the Catholic priests risk their lives to save Jewish lives, despite difference of religion and nationality? I remember a similar question asked by a teacher in one of the Israeli schools in Modi’in, Israel 4 A. Polonsky, “Próba podziękowania,” [An Attempt to Thank] 10. 4 where I was invited to speak about the Holocaust for a group of young people who were going to visit the extermination camps in Poland. This teacher asked: Would you risk your own life and the lives of your children or spouses to save other people in danger? We can ask ourselves the same question now in Cincinnati, OH more than 70 years after the Holocaust: Would I risk my life and the lives of loved ones to save other people in danger? There was silence in the Israeli school, but the teacher was not waiting for an answer at that very time. He wanted to indicate those who actually did risk their lives. They were heroes! They were saints! In terms of the Catholic priests, after reading miles of the documents and books as well as listening more than 300,000 min. of interviews, the group of researchers, which I coordinate, came to the conclusion that in Poland about 1,000 Catholic priests risked their lives in order to save the Jewish People. Moreover, there is a list of 368 female religious convents, where the Polish Jews found their home at the time of the Holocaust or received other help. We count that in every convent there were at least five nuns, totaling more than 1,500 nuns involved in saving lives, mainly the lives of children. Now, there is the question of how a Catholic priest could have helped in time when everything must be done in absolute secrecy and when a priest in a parish was wearing a cassock every day, so it was extremely difficult for a priest to do something that was not noticed. Moreover, a priest was a widely known public figure, so even without a cassock people could easily notice that he was a priest. In order to answer this question and to see how the Jewish people remember the Catholic Priests at the time of the Holocaust, our team of researchers (eight in total) worked almost two months – July and August 2014 in the archive in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which is the world center for Holocaust studies.5 Now, let me share with you the newest results of this research. Our group found 115 testimonies of the Holocaust survivors in which a Catholic priest was mentioned. Actually, all of us were surprised and edified at the same time. In 114 cases Jewish people spoke very positively about the Roman Catholic priests, as people who risked their own lives to help them. They describe all sorts of ways in which they received help. Only one testimony is ambiguous, namely, the one in which Germans used to visit a local priest and he did not refuse to receive them the day after they destroyed the Jewish Community in that place. However, we do not know if he had the contact with the Jews or not. So almost all the testimonies of the Jewish survivors are very positive, and they describe the help received. In some cases we have very inspiring and surprising pictures. In one of the testimonies Alicja Heiler describes the story regarding her brother, Dr. Stefan Stiefel from Krosno (southern part of Poland), who received help from Fr. Chodorski, from the national Catholic Church. She writes that Fr. Chodorski not only agreed to give him shelter, but also sent 5 For the summary of the research see: RFWA, A. Dąbek, Człowieczeństwo w czasie Holocaustu [Humanity at the Time of the Holocaust]. 5 him his priestly cassock, which helped him to leave the city and escape into one of the villages. She writes: “And so, my brother in the bright day, at noon, left Krosno wearing a cassock in the company of Jadwiga Niepokoj and other known person called Cichocka. When they were walking on the street women approached my brother – and according to the custom – kissed his hand. It did not even come to their mind who was this “priest.” In the village is a tradition that a new priest celebrates a Mass. Fr. Chodorkowski had to find an excuse to save my brother and himself from this problematic situation. He said that my brother is a refugee from the Poznan area, who suffers some kind of nervous instability as a result of German repressions. They did not even think: who was this priest? My brother stayed with Chodorski certain time and than, with Aryan documents left for Krakow.”6 Dr. Stefan Stiefel survived the Holocaust and lived in Austria. This story has a happy ending, but not all of them finished like this. There is a list of about 30 Catholic priests who were killed for helping the Jewish people.7 One example is Fr. Adam Stark, a Jesuit from Słonim, Eastern Poland. He provided food and money to Jews, issued false baptismal records, urged parishioners to help their Jewish neighbors and hid Jewish children in the convent. When the Germans were burning the ghetto and taking the Jewish people to shoot them, he was courageously collecting children on the streets of the ghetto. Fr. Sztark then sent the children to the convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where the superior Sister Marta and Sister Ewa, a medical doctor, took care of them. Unfortunately, German Nazis found the Jewish children hidden under the roof of their convent. First, the Jewish children and then later Fr. Sztark and Sisters Marta and Ewa were killed on the 19th of December 1942 together with other people who were accused of sheltering Jewish people.8 We have the audio recording from one of the people from the area who testifies that Fr. Sztark was given a chance to escape. He could hide under a car, but he refused saying that he will offer his life with his people.9 The two sisters are now beatified by Pope John Paul II, and the beatification of Fr. Sztark is on the way, as an example of loving one’s neighbor to the end. 6 AYV, sygn. O.3/3421, Testimony of Alicji Heiler (Stiefel) 7-8. 7 RFWA, Lista księży zamordowanych za pomoc ludności żydowskiej [List of Catholic Priests Killed for Helping Jewish People]. 8 E. Kopówka, P. Rytel-Andrianik, Dam im imię na wieki (Iz 56,5) 453, 457, 459. 9 RFWA, sygn. 130607_001, Testimony of Irena Korgul; RFWA, sygn. 130608_001 and sygn. 130608_002, Testimony of Zofia Brancewicz; RFWA, sygn. 130608_003, Testimony of Janina Bućko. 6 Fr. Adam Sztark with his father and brother. Photo Credit: Private Archive Now let me share with you something very personal. I lived in Israel about 5 years and I have had the chance to know many Jewish people and institutions (among them Hebrew Union College, where I studied Hebrew). In particular, I become close to the Jewish Community that comes from my area of Poland. Every year I was invited to participate in their annual meeting. The first time I went there I spoke about the book I wrote with the director of the Treblinka Museum, entitled: “I will give them an everlasting name.” (Is 56:5): Poles saving Jews in the area of Treblinka. When I was speaking about the role of the Catholic priests in saving the prisoners who escaped Treblinka, one of the women, actually a chairperson responsible for this group asked: - Father, may I interrupt. - Absolutely, please do. - I just wanted to confess, that my life was saved by a priest. - How come? - And she said: We were hidden by one family in the place called Morze. When the situation was very dangerous for this family the woman went to see the priest and asked what to do. The priest answered: “They are innocent people! If you can, keep them!” The woman came back and referred what the priest advised and they decided to keep us to the end of the war. In this way, my life was saved – said Hana Broder from Tel Aviv. 7 Chana Broder. Photo Credit : Private Archive Fr. Jan Auder. Photo Credit: Diocese of Drohiczyn Archive This story opened my eyes to one thing. I was actually a parochial vicar in this parish, and I know very well where the village Morze is, where she was sheltered. I know many stories about the pastor at that time, Fr. Jan Auder, but I did not know that he saved her life. I had to go to Tel Aviv to learn about a pastor of my small parish in Eastern Poland.10 Moreover, this story shows that sometimes the Jewish people did not even see even person who helped them. Obviously this was not the only case where the people who were sheltering the Jewish people were encouraged to do so by their priests. If somebody knows the reality in Poland at the time of the Second World War, they realize that many times people were asking priests for advice in such cases, and thanks to the authority of the priests, many Jewish lives were saved. 10 See also account of H. Seroszko (Blumsztajn), קריסטן האָבן מיך רעגא טַעוועט [Christians Saved Me] 400-404. 8 3. Bishops and the Jewish People at the time of the Holocaust Bishop Karol Niemira. Photo Credit: Diocese of Drohiczyn Archive In 1939, there were 21 Roman Catholic dioceses in Poland. Seven remained without diocesan bishops, who were murdered (Diocese of Płock), lived in exile (dioceses of Gniezno, Poznań and Włocław), were interned (Diocese of Lublin), were expelled from the diocese (Diocese of Katowice), or were forced to leave their diocese (Diocese of Pińsk). Thirteen out of the remaining fourteen diocesan bishops or diocese administrators were involved in helping the Jewish population. The activity of the one remaining is being researched.11 Just to give you some examples: Diocese of Czestochowa – Bishop Teodor Kubina Upon his arrival in Czestochowa in 1925, Kubina became friends with the local Rabbi Nachum Asz. During the war he encouraged priests to issue forged Christian birth certificates to Jews and to find shelter for them. According to the Bishop’s instruction, this involvement of priests and laics was effective. Jews in Czestochowa were concealed in the convents of: Albertine Sisters, Magdalene Sisters, Sisters of Nazareth, Oblation Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face, Good Shepherd Sisters, Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate (starowiejskie), Ursulines of the Roman Union, Sisters of the Resurrection, and others. Similarly, the Order of Saint Paul and Salesians of Don Bosco sheltered Jews. The granddaughter of Rabbi Asz (now Elizabeth Zielińska-Mundlak) had been concealed in one of the convent kindergartens. 11 For more information cf. P. Rytel-Andrianik, “Biskupi ratujący Żydów, czyli lista z piuską,” [Bishops Saving Jews, So to Say the List with the Zucchetto] 21-23. 9 Archdiocese of Lviv – Archbishop Bolesław Twardowski According to the testimony of Fr. Mieczyslaw Marszalik, secretary to Archbishop Twardowski, the four-member Jewish, baptized family of Doctor Artur Władyslaw Elmer was concealed at the archbishop’s home for two years. Unfortunately, Elmer’s son was stopped on the street by the Gestapo on August 8, 1943, and after being tortured he disclosed their hiding place. The whole family was killed and Archbishop was being more frequently controlled. Apart from the above-mentioned diocesan bishops and diocese administrators there were other bishops who, staying outside their dioceses, engaged themselves in helping the Jewish population. Karol Radoński, Bishop of Włocławek, for example, condemned German atrocities against Jews in his speech on December 14, 1942, on the London radio. He said: “The murders committed openly on Jews in Poland midst the blustering and jibes of the executioners and their vassals must evoke horror and disgust in the entire civilized world. (…) As a Polish bishop I condemn with all certainty the crime committed in Poland on the Jewish population.”12 Karol Niemira, auxiliary Bishop of Pińsk, staying at St. Augustine parish in Warsaw (at the ghetto border) helped over hundred people, mostly Jewish children. The only bishop who is under investigation is Bishop Maria Splett who, being German in nationality, was appointed as temporary administrator of the neighboring Diocese of Chełmno due to the extremely hard situation there. The main charge against him was his subordination to Nazi authorities. When Germans issued the regulation of October 1939 commanding the use of the German language in churches, Bishop Splett repeated the order. This was met with overwhelming criticism of Cardinal Luigi Maglione, the Vatican Secretary of State, who ordered him to withdraw the regulation in the letter of November 12, 1940. Bishop Splett explained later that he had introduced it after Gestapo arrested six priests hearing confessions in Polish. In terms of Bishops being involved in saving the Jews, it would be naïve to think that thay did not know what their priests are doing in terms, for instance, of issuing false baptism certificates, which served as identity cards, called Kenkarte. At the same time it would be naïve to think that priests did such things without oral permission from their bishops. Pope Pius XII and the Jewish People As we know, sometimes people accuse him of being silent during the Holocaust. Personally I think that Pope Francis gave the best answer, in a very frank and open way. In an interview done in Israel during his visit to the Holy Land, he said to the “La Vanguardia” newspaper (published on June 13, 2014): “They have said all sorts of things about poor Pius XII. But we need to remember that before he was seen as the great defender of the Jews. He hid many in convents in Rome and in other Italian cities, and also in the residence of Castel Gandolfo. Forty-two babies, children of Jews and other persecuted who sought refuge there were born there, in the 12 M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholc Clergy. The Testimony of Survivors (Toronto, 2014) 13. This book can be downloaded from: http://www.kpk-toronto.org/archives/clergy_recue_kpk.pdf. 10 Pope’s room, in his own bed. I don’t want to say that Pius XII did not make any mistakes – I myself make many – but one needs to see his role in the context of the time. For example, was it better for him not to speak so that more Jews would not be killed or for him to speak? I also want to say that sometimes I get “existential hives” when I see that everyone takes it out against the Church and Pius XII, and they forget the great powers. Did you know that they knew the rail network of the Nazis perfectly well to take the Jews to concentration camps? They had the pictures. But they did not bomb those railroad tracks. Why?” – asked Pope Francis. In past years scholars made significant progress in the study of the case of Pius XII, to the point that the exposition regarding this pope in the Yad Vashem Museum has changed from being negative and accusing him for being silent to a more balanced statement. That research is in process and the truth will be known after the Vatican archive becomes available to scholars, which is, actually, the will of Pope Francis. When Pope John Paul II was asked about the attitude of Pope Pius XII to the Jewish Community he answered: “Read Blett” – which means: read the documents of the Holy See published by a renowned Church Historian and Jesuit who spent many years in the Vatican Archives – Fr. Pierre Blett, a Jesuit. A large part of the document is already available online in the collection of Acts and Documents of the Holy See Relative to the Second World War. You can find this online at the address: http://www.vatican.va/archive/actes/index_en.htm These documents show clearly the efforts of the Holy See to save Jewish lives. At this point is should be mentioned that in the whole of Europe 80% of the Jewish people were killed, but in Italy it was the opposite: about 80% were saved, and many of them in the Catholic convents and seminaries. Many religious houses were opened to the Jewish People because of the informal, oral encouragement coming from the Holy See.13 I had a chance to read Blett, which means these documents regarding Jewish People and Pope Pius XII, and it became clear that many diplomats advised Pius XII not to make a public statement, because it would do much harm to the Jewish people sheltered in the Catholic Convents as well as to the priests and nuns who were sheltering them. One of the examples how it worked is the case of the Dutch Bishops, who made a public statement read in all the churches on July 20, 1942, condemning Nazi racism. As a reaction to this statement, on 7 August, the Nazis deported 987 Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp, among them Sister Edith Stein and her sister. 13 Cf. P.E. Lapide, The Last Three Popes and the Jews, 214. 11 At the end we have to answer the question: Why did the priests help the Jewish people? Sometimes it was out of compassion or a feeling of moral duty. Other times it was a sign of human solidarity. Often it was a natural gesture, because at that time many people asked priests for help. It happened also that priests helped the Jewish people whom they knew from before the Holocaust. From the various testimonies we see clearly that very often priests helped for religious reasons. For instance, Fr. Jan Rębisz confessed in a letter sent to the Jewish Historical Commission why he helped a Jewish woman: “I know the danger for two of us, but the Christian thought of helping the other person was stronger.”14 Personally, I think that many priests were convinced that the Anti-Semitism is one of the greatest anti-Christian heresies. We cannot understand Christianity without Judaism. Pope Francis said “within every Christian there is a Jew,” and he specified in the interview mentioned above: “Perhaps it would be more correct to say “you cannot live your Christianity, you cannot be a real Christian, if you do not recognize your Jewish roots.” I don’t speak of Jewish in the sense of the Semitic race but rather in the religious sense. I think that inter-religious dialogue needs to deepen in this, in Christianity’s Jewish roots and in the Christian flowering of Judaism. I understand it is a challenge, a hot potato, but it can be done as brothers. I pray the divine office every day with the Psalms of David. We do the 150 psalms in one week. My prayer is Jewish and I have the Eucharist, which is Christian.” Conclusion The newest research shows many unknown situations where Catholic priests risked their lives in order to save the Jewish People. This data point to the three conclusions: 1) about 1,000 Catholic priests in Poland risked their lives to save Jewish People during the Holocaust. Some of them were killed for such help. 2) Twelve out of the fourteen diocesan bishops or diocesan administrators were involved in helping the Jewish population in Poland. The activity of two remaining is being researched. 3) Catholic clergy’s action to save Jews was not sporadic; rather, it was typical of Catholic charity work during the Holocaust, which is still unknown, because priests did not look for recognitions and honors, but did this according to their Christian values. In this lecture we spoke mainly about the Catholic priests, but there were also courageous nuns and Lay Catholics who risked their lives to save the Jewish people. Let us remember them all as they are heroes amid the horror of the Holocaust. 14 AYV, sygn. O.62/478, List nadesłany w marcu 1947 do Woj[ewódzkiej] Żyd[owskiej] Komisji Historycznej w Krakowie przez ks. Jana Rębisza, wieś Dołha, st. p. Międzyrzec Podl. koło Łukowa, [A letter sent in March 1947 to Voievodship Jewish Historical Commission in Cracow by Fr. Jan Rębisz, village Dołha, railway station Międzyrzec Podl. close to Łuków] 2. 12 BIBLIOGRAPHY Archival documents AYV –Yad Vashem Archive in Jerusalem sygn. O.3/3421, Testimony of Alicji Heiler (Stiefel) 7-8. sygn. O.62/478, List nadesłany w marcu 1947 do Woj[ewódzkiej] Żyd[owskiej] Komisji Historycznej w Krakowie przez ks. Jana Rębisza, wieś Dołha, st. p. Międzyrzec Podl. koło Łukowa, [A letter sent in March 1947 to Voievodship Jewish Historical Commission in Cracow by Fr. Jan Rębisz, village Dołha, railway station Międzyrzec Podl. close to Łuków], 2. RFWA – Righteous for the World Foundation Archive in Poland. sygn. 130607_001, Testimony of Irena Korgul. sygn. 130608_001 and sygn. 130608_002, Testimony of Zofia Brancewicz. sygn. 130608_003, Testimony of Janina Bućko. Other documents Dąbek, A., Człowieczeństwo w czasie Holocaustu. Postawy księży rzymskokatolickich wobec ludności żydowskiej w Polsce wg archiwum Yad Vashem w Jerozolimie [Humanity at the Time of the Holocaust. Attitude of the Roman Catholic Priests Towards Jewish People in Poland According to the Yad Vashem Archive], Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika. Wydział Teologiczny, II Teologiczno- Etnologiczna Konferencja Akademicka. Człowiek – Ciało i Duch, 26.09.2014 r. Lista księży zamordowanych za pomoc ludności żydowskiej [List of Catholic Priests Killed for Helping Jewish People]. Publications Bartoszewski, W., Lewinówna, Z., Ten jest z Ojczyzny mojej. Polacy z pomocą Żydom 1939-1945 [He Is from My Homeland. Poles helping Jews 1939-1945] (Warszawa: Stowarzyszenie ŻIH, 32007). Kopówka, E., Rytel-Andrianik, P., Dam im imię na wieki (Iz 56,5). Polacy z okolic Treblinki ratujący Żydów [I Will Give Them an Everlasting Name (Is 56,5). Poles from the Area of Treblinka Rescuing Jews] (Biblioteka Drohiczyńska V; Treblinka-Oxford: Wydawnictwo Sióstr Loretanek, 2011). 13 Lapide, P.E., The Last Three Popes and the Jews (London, 1967). Paul, M., Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholc Clergy. The Testimony of Survivors (Toronto, 2014). This book can be downloaded from: http://www.kpk-toronto.org/archives/clergy_recue_kpk.pdf. Polonsky, A., “Próba podziękowania,” [An Attempt to Thank] in: E. Kopówka, P. Rytel- Andrianik, Dam im imię na wieki (Iz 56,5). Polacy z okolic Treblinki ratujący Żydów [I Will Give Them an Everlasting Name. Poles from the Area of Treblinka Rescuing Jews] (Biblioteka Drohiczyńska V; Treblinka- Oxford: Wydawnictwo Sióstr Loretanek, 2011) 10. Rytel-Andrianik, P., “Biskupi ratujący Żydów, czyli lista z piuską,” [Bishops Saving Jews, so to say the List with the Zocchetto], wSieci Historii, 4/2014 [April 2014], 21- 23. Rytel-Andrianik, P., “Polacy z okolic Treblinki zamordowani za pomoc Żydom,” [Poles from the Area of Treblinka Killed for Helping Jews] in: E. Kopówka (ed.), Co wiemy o Treblince? Stan badań. What do We Know About Treblinka? The Current State of Research (Siedlce: Elpil, 2013) 167-172. Seroszko (Blumsztajn), Agnieszka Dąbek, Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik Roman Catholic Priests in the Eyes of the Holocaust Survivors According to Yad Vashem Archive Sources Summary The present article aims to show Roman Catholic Priests’ attitudes towards the Jewish People in Poland during the Second World War according to Yad Vashem Archive sources.1 The main question is: Were the Catholic Priests aiding Jewish People at the time of the Holocaust or were they indifferent to their tragedy? The data verified at Yad Vashem shows that Polish clergy took a firm stance in the face of the Holocaust. A good number of priests risked their own lives in order to save Jewish lives. We have managed to find information about more than 110 Roman Catholic priests. According to the Holocaust survivors, each of them was very helpful in various ways. The most common way was issuing false baptismal certificates or other fictitious documents as well as finding a safe shelter with Catholic families or employment as parish staff. It must be added, though, that the number of more than 110 priests is obtained from one archive only. Research carried out by the Righteous for the World Foundation and various scholars in many other archives and countries reveals that approximately 1,000 Catholic priests in Poland were involved in saving Jewish people at the time of the Holocaust (cf. http://www.kpktoronto. org/archives/clergy_recue_kpk.pdf). In coming to this conclusion we are aware of the fact that we have not yet seen all of the documents in Yad Vashem regarding this theme. However, from the archive database and research program it seems that we have studied almost all of the documents available now. Moreover, most of the documents we have researched have never been published before. This research is still in progress and we hope that it will make a significant contribution to interdisciplinary studies related to the Holocaust. 1 In July and August of 2014, the research on the attitudes of Roman Catholic priests towards the Jewish population in Poland was being carried out on the basis of the material gathered at the archive at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The research team included: coordinator - Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik, professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, lecturer at WSKSiM and the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw; Dorota Kiedrowska, Monika Kwiatkowska, Marcelina Surma and Agnieszka Dąbek – all from the Nicolaus Copernicus University (NCU); Faustyna Brunka and Joanna Gerke - both from the Higher School of Social and Media Culture (WSKSiM), and Paulina Makowska from the University of Gdańsk. That was part of the research carried for the benefit of Memorial Chapel, which is being built in Toruń in collaboration with Righteous for the World Foundation. 2 Introduction The genocide of the Jewish population began as the Nazi German troops crossed Polish borders. At the end of November 1939, all Jews were required to wear the Star of David in public. Later, they were placed in ghettos. According to German Nazi rules, being of Jewish origin was a sufficient reason for execution without trial. Hans Frank, Governor General, issued a decree on October 15, 1941, stipulating that Poles caught helping Jews would also be punished by death. Thus, the Holocaust was one of the greatest Jewish and human tragedies. In just six years, between 1939 and 1945, German Nazis murdered approximately six million Jewish people, including nearly one million children. Catholic clergy were also victims of Nazi persecution. The statistics are dramatic. Out of 16,000 Polish priests, about 4,000 were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. About 2,000 of them were murdered by the Nazis. There were some dioceses, such as Dioceses of Włocławek, Gniezno, and Chełmno, where almost 50% of the priests were killed. In connection with the above, we would like to pose a question concerning the attitude of the Catholic priests in face of such terrible events: Were they aiding Jews or were they indifferent to their tragedy? Testimonies of the World War II survivors are being collected in various archives and other institutions. We have studied those preserved at the Yad Vashem Archive. Having verified these testimonies, we have managed to find information about more than 110 Roman Catholic priests who were operating in German occupied Poland. To our surprise, in literally all the cases in which priests were asked for help, they never refused. In addition, we found one ambiguous testimony, in which the Jewish person complains that Germans were visiting a local priest and he did not refuse to give them food. At the same time it must be stressed that the number of more than 110 priests is obtained from one archive only. Research carried out by the Righteous for the World Foundation and other scholars in many archives in various countries reveals that approximately 1,000 Catholic priests risked their lives to save Jewish people in Poland under German occupation (cf. http://www.kpk-toronto.org/archives/clergy_recue_kpk.pdf). 3 Thanks to these materials, the following question was raised: How have these priests helped the Jewish people? In order to answer this question some documents, found in Yad Vashem Archive in Jerusalem, will be presented to show the testimonies of the Holocaust Survivors. On the Way from Auschwitz Fr. Alojzy Pitlok is described in the memoirs of Sara Erenhalt (née Flaks) (born 1923), who used to live with her family in Przemyśl. In 1941 she married Leon Patera. Soon their first child was born. A tragic twist of fate made her and her family stay at one of the two ghettos established by the Nazi Germans in Przemyśl. Leon was killed while trying to escape to the “Aryan” side. Sara’s parents and her sisters were deported to Bełeżec. Other members of her family, including her only child, were killed in the ghetto. In September 1943, she was taken, along with other people, to Birkenau (near Auschwitz). After the quarantine period, she was given the number 66952 and sent to work in the “Union” factory, located three kilometers from the camp. At the beginning of 1944, she was transferred to Auschwitz while continuing to work in the factory2. At the end of 1944, the process of liquidating the camp began. In January 1945, there were not enough wagons to transport all prisoners. The remaining camp prisoners were led in the so-called death march – barefoot towards German borders. To everyone’s surprise, Germans ordered a stop in the village of Poręba, near Pszczyna, and allowed prisoners to look for accommodation. Sara and six other women went towards the nearby houses. She recounts: “We all entered some cottage. There was an old man. We greeted him saying "Praised be Jesus Christ." We asked him about the night in his barn. He replied: Poor little things, how can I let you sleep in a barn at minus eighteen degrees. It appeared that our host was a priest, dressed at that time in secular clothing. We started talking to him and asking for shelter at his home. He agreed immediately to hide me and Genia. (…) We were trying to persuade him that we cannot separate from our female 2 AYV, Ref. O.3/1588, Testimony of Sara Erenhalt (née Flaks), pp. 2-3. 4 companions because we were together all the time in the camp, and if they go away, they surely will die.”3 Father Alojzy Pitlok agreed to host all of the women. He was also willing to offer them help after the liberation, “he said that it did not matter that we were Jews, but it was important that our guardian angel had sent us to him, and he could save us. He also underlined that if we did not manage to find our families, we could always come back to his place and find a job.” After the war, Sara contacted the Zionist organization. In 1946, she went to Israel.4 Keeping People Calm The story of Father Wojniusz, the parish priest in Kiemieliszki, is an interesting example of keeping people’s calm. Father Wojniusz as a balding, chubby old man, who was not too good at theology, or at making poignant speeches, but he “spoke right from the heart.” Thanks to that, his words truly reached his parishioners. As Masza Rudnicka recalls in her testimony, just when the first signs of mutual hostility appeared among the people of Kiemieliszki, Father Wojniusz reacted just in time. Masha describes it this way: “At that critical moment we were saved by Father Wojniusz, who announced a solemn procession, a sort of procession which is organized only at special occasions. There was such mystical mood among the Christians living in the village that people quickly forsook their actions.”5 Masha Rudnicka was later transported to the ghetto in Kiemieliszki, from which she would be relocated to labor camps. After the liberation, when she and her sister returned to Kiemieliszki, Father Henryk Wojniusz offered them help and took care of them. Testimony given by Rachela Rudnik, who, like Masza, had to stay for some time in the ghetto in Kiemieliszki, also confirms the aid given by Father Wojniusz6. 3 Ibid.. p. 15. 4 Ibid., p. 3. 5 AYV, Ref. O.3/2333, Testimony of Masza Rudnicka, p. 8. 6 AYV, Ref. O.3/1833, Testimony of Rachela Rudnik, p. 3. 5 Unbaptized “Priest” Another case concerns the priest belonging to the Polish National Catholic Church, not the Roman Catholic Church, mentioned in the title of the present paper. However, due to the uniqueness and distinctiveness of this form of aid in comparison with others, we would like to focus on this story more carefully. Alicja Heiler (born 1918), along with her family was living in Krosno when the war started. In her memoirs from that time, she recalls the story of her brother: “My brother, Dr. Stefan Stiefel (…), who currently lives in Austria, hid from NKVD roundups at the house of the Sochański family. Immediately after the operation, he turned to his friend Father [Lesław] Chodorski-Kędra, relative of the pianist Władysław Kędra. Chodorski belonged to the National Church. He agreed to give my brother a shelter at his house. What’s more, he sent him a priestly robe to make his leaving from Krosno to the country easier. And so, my brother left Krosno, at bright noon, dressed as a priest, accompanied by Jadwiga Niepokój and other friend named Cichocka. As they were walking down the street, women approached my brother to kiss his hand, in a common gesture, unaware who that priest was! As it is customary in small villages that the newly arrived priest celebrates masses, Father Chodorski had to think how to get my brother and himself out of trouble. He explained that my brother was a priest - a refugee from Poznań, who suffered a nervous breakdown after the Nazi persecution. My brother lived with Father Chodorski and his friends for some time. Later, given Aryan papers, he moved to Krakow.”7 The picture of Dr. Stefan Stiefel in a cassock can be seen at the Yad Vashem website under this address: http://collections1.yadvashem.org/arch_srika/1501-2000/1803-1869/1869_640.jpg 7 AYV, Ref. O.3/3421, Testimony of Alicja Heiler (née Stiefel), pp. 7-8. 6 Baptism During the Holocaust, some Jewish people asked to be baptized. That was, however, quite a complicated issue. They would have to find somebody who would agree to give them some classes of Catholic doctrine and to perform the Baptism. It was much easier to give just a fictitious baptism certificate, which could serve as a reliable document for obtaining the ID Card (Kennkarte). In one of the accounts we find a story of the Pilichowski family who lived in the Warsaw ghetto and in November, 1942 wanted to join the Catholic Church and get out of the ghetto: “All our family members were baptized in the parish of the Saviour in Warsaw. Father [Seweryn] Popławski agreed to baptize us at once without any further questions. Our Polish friend directed us to this priest. Our baptismal certificates became the proof that we were Aryan. My mother got her birth certificate for the name of the already deceased parishioner - Maria Anna Kowalewska. My father became Aleksander Franciszek Będzikowski. I and my sisters kept our original surname.”8 In this case, the family wanted to be baptized. It might be that they were led also by a desire to survive. Was it right for the priest to baptize them in such a situation? We leave this to your personal reflection. Motivations The reasons for aiding Jews people constitute an important issue. There were surely numerous reasons – a subconscious sense of responsibility, an instinctive moral duty, deep compassion, or just an ordinary, human reflex of solidarity. Sometimes the person helping had Jewish friends, whom they knew before the war, who came to them looking for help while facing death, sometimes they did not know each other at all. Father Jan Rębisz, in his letter of March 1947 that was sent to the Jewish Historical Commission in which he described how he helped a Jewish girl when he was a vicar at 8 AYV, Ref. O.3/2826, Testimony of Zofia Pilichowska (Weiser), pp. 7-8; cf, AYV, Ref. O.3/2338, Testimony of Anastazja Bitowtowa, pp. 2-3. 7 the parish church in Sokołów Podlaski, simply states: „I knew that we were both facing death but the thought of giving Christian help to my sister suppressed all my fears.”9 Conclusions Summarizing our work and research conducted at Yad Vashem, it can be firmly stated that the priests living in Poland under Nazi German occupation did not remain indifferent in the face of the tragic fate of the Jewish people. Polish clergy sought to save their suffering Jewish brothers and sisters with great courage, understanding, and compassion. They frequently risked their own lives at the time, when even the slightest act of human kindness was liable to be punished by death. BIBLIOGRAPHY AYV - Archive of Yad Vashem Testimonies Ref. O.3/2338, Anastazja Bitowtowa. Ref. O.3/1588, Sara Erenhalt (née Flaks). Ref. O.3/3421, Alicja Heiler (née Stiefel). Ref. O.3/2333, Masza Rudnicka. Ref. O.3/1883, Rachela Rudnik. Ref. O.3/2826, Zofia Pilichowska (Weiser). Correspondence Ref. O.62/478, List nadesłany w marcu 1947 do Woj[ewódzkiej] Żyd[owskiej] Komisji Historycznej w Krakowie przez ks. Jana Rębisza, wieś Dołha, st. p. Międzyrzec Podl. koło Łukowa, [A letter sent in March 1947 to Voievodship Jewish Historical Commission in Cracow by Fr. Jan Rębisz, village Dołha, railway station Międzyrzec Podl. close to Łuków]. 9 AYV, Ref. O.62/478, List nadesłany w marcu 1947 do Woj[ewódzkiej] Żyd[owskiej] Komisji Historycznej w Krakowie przez ks. Jana Rębisza, wieś Dołha, st. p. Międzyrzec Podl. koło Łukowa, [A letter sent in March 1947 to Voievodship Jewish Historical Commission in Cracow by Fr. Jan Rębisz, village Dołha, railway station Międzyrzec Podl. close to Łuków] 2. 8 Appendix Some documents in the Archive of Yad Vashem, which testify about the Catholic priests, who were saving Jewish people. Testimonies (alphabetical order): Ref. O.3/7433, Tzvi Abramovitz. Ref. O.3/4107, Oded Amarant. Ref. O.3/13133, Zipora Cheslava Anbar (Domb). Ref. O.3/2882, Sender Apelbaum. Ref. O.3/442, Halina Ashkenazi (Raps). Ref. O.62/53, Leokadja Bachner. Ref. O.3/7897, Shifra Ben Nun (Kahane). Ref. 0.33.C/3457, Ruti Ben Shalom. Ref. O.3/4812, Moshe Berezin. Ref. O.3/2827, Zopora Feiga Berkovicz Barkai (Reznik). Ref. O.33/7027, Helena Bibliowicz. Ref. O.3/2338, Anastazja Bitowtowa. Ref. O.3/4415, Bela Brawer. Ref. O.93/18946, Czesława Czereśnia. Ref. O.3/5315, Irma Irena Dagon (Anikst). Ref. O.3/ 12263, David Danielski Danieli. Ref. O.3/3376, Gina Diamant. Ref. M.49/6010, Jan Doliwa Śledziński. Ref. O.3/2999, David Enzenberg. Ref. O.3/10995, Miriam Erlich. Ref. O.3/1588, Sara Erenhalt (Flaks Pater). Ref. O.3/10098, Bracha Bronia Freiberg Bendori (Kleinman). Ref. O.3/3956, Szoszana Roza Gerszuni Nachimowicz (Medlinski). Ref. O.3/4457, Sabina Gilboa. Ref. O.33.C/1485, Chana Gindelman. Ref. O.93/28393, Władysław Głowacki. 9 Ref. O.3/10176, Batia Golan (Klig). Ref. O.3/2689, Miriam Goldin (Ginter). Ref. O.3/862, Esther Grinberg (Morgenstern). Ref. O.3/3494, Jehoszua Grinberg. Ref. O.3/3283, Priwa Grinkraut (Koniecpolski). Ref. M.49/4151, Rudolf Hermelin. Ref. O.33/193, Jakob Jehoszua Herzig. Ref. O.3/3512, Mosze Jung. Ref. M.11/376, Zelda Kaczerewicz. Ref. O.62/438, Szymon Kahane. Ref. O.3/3643, Ida Kapłan (Lewkowicz). Ref. O.3/1828, Szabtaj Kapłan. Ref. O.33/8486, Alek Elias Kleiner. Ref. O.3/2824, Teresa Komer (Esterstein). Ref. O.3/2518, Helena Korzeniewska. Ref. 0.33.C/4774, Yocheved Kreminitzer. Ref. O.3/174, Gina Lanceter (Hochberg). Ref. O.3/10545, Esther Liber. Ref. O.3/6820, Esther Lisak. Ref. M.49/1922, Szymon Loeffelholz. Ref. O.3/1652, Hena Nomberg (Bakalarz). Ref. O.3/5434, Ludwika Oberleder (Aran). Ref. O.3/7494, Ziona Oberman (Veisman). Ref. O.3/2668, Mina Omer. Ref. O.3/3527, Nachum Pelc. Ref. O.3/12885, Eliahu Perevoski Levin. Ref. O.3/2826, Zofia Pilichowska (Weiser). Ref. O.3/3878, Esther Pop (Tesler). Ref. O.3/182, Zeev Portnoy. Ref. M.49/1221, Ada Rems. Ref. O.62/179, Ada Remz. Ref. M.49/6274, Josef Rosenbaum. Ref. O.3/2611, Sarah Ross (Immelman). 10 Ref. O.3/ 2885, Zofia Roze (Haas). Ref. O.3/2333, Masza Rudnicka (Szvizinger). Ref. O.3/1833, Rachela Rudnik. Ref. O.62/172, Regina Rueck. Ref. M.49/1225, Jakub Sanzer. Ref. O.3/5538, Aleksander Serel. Ref. O.3/5645, Klara Chaya Stern (Heler). Ref. O.33, Sonya Stizel (Silber). Ref. O.3/2864, Witold Szymczukiewicz Ref. M.49/ 217, Jan Tarlaga. Ref. O.3/2567, Anna Thau (Wilf). Ref. M.11/374, Alter Trus. Ref. O.3/2365, Ewa Turzyńska (Trauenstein). Ref. O.33.C/4297, Aviva Unger. Ref. O.3/3333, Abraham Wand. Ref. O.3/6513, Henia Kristina Wasiak (Niewiadomski). Ref. O.3/5010, Marishka Yanovska. Agnieszka Dąbek, Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik Roman Catholic Priests in the Eyes of the Holocaust Survivors According to Yad Vashem Archive Sources Summary The present article aims to show Roman Catholic Priests’ attitudes towards the Jewish People in Poland during the Second World War according to Yad Vashem Archive sources.1 The main question is: Were the Catholic Priests aiding Jewish People at the time of the Holocaust or were they indifferent to their tragedy? The data verified at Yad Vashem shows that Polish clergy took a firm stance in the face of the Holocaust. A good number of priests risked their own lives in order to save Jewish lives. We have managed to find information about more than 110 Roman Catholic priests. According to the Holocaust survivors, each of them was very helpful in various ways. The most common way was issuing false baptismal certificates or other fictitious documents as well as finding a safe shelter with Catholic families or employment as parish staff. It must be added, though, that the number of more than 110 priests is obtained from one archive only. Research carried out by the Righteous for the World Foundation and various scholars in many other archives and countries reveals that approximately 1,000 Catholic priests in Poland were involved in saving Jewish people at the time of the Holocaust (cf. http://www.kpktoronto. org/archives/clergy_recue_kpk.pdf). In coming to this conclusion we are aware of the fact that we have not yet seen all of the documents in Yad Vashem regarding this theme. However, from the archive database and research program it seems that we have studied almost all of the documents available now. Moreover, most of the documents we have researched have never been published before. This research is still in progress and we hope that it will make a significant contribution to interdisciplinary studies related to the Holocaust. 1 In July and August of 2014, the research on the attitudes of Roman Catholic priests towards the Jewish population in Poland was being carried out on the basis of the material gathered at the archive at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The research team included: coordinator - Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik, professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, lecturer at WSKSiM and the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw; Dorota Kiedrowska, Monika Kwiatkowska, Marcelina Surma and Agnieszka Dąbek – all from the Nicolaus Copernicus University (NCU); Faustyna Brunka and Joanna Gerke - both from the Higher School of Social and Media Culture (WSKSiM), and Paulina Makowska from the University of Gdańsk. That was part of the research carried for the benefit of Memorial Chapel, which is being built in Toruń in collaboration with Righteous for the World Foundation. 2 Introduction The genocide of the Jewish population began as the Nazi German troops crossed Polish borders. At the end of November 1939, all Jews were required to wear the Star of David in public. Later, they were placed in ghettos. According to German Nazi rules, being of Jewish origin was a sufficient reason for execution without trial. Hans Frank, Governor General, issued a decree on October 15, 1941, stipulating that Poles caught helping Jews would also be punished by death. Thus, the Holocaust was one of the greatest Jewish and human tragedies. In just six years, between 1939 and 1945, German Nazis murdered approximately six million Jewish people, including nearly one million children. Catholic clergy were also victims of Nazi persecution. The statistics are dramatic. Out of 16,000 Polish priests, about 4,000 were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. About 2,000 of them were murdered by the Nazis. There were some dioceses, such as Dioceses of Włocławek, Gniezno, and Chełmno, where almost 50% of the priests were killed. In connection with the above, we would like to pose a question concerning the attitude of the Catholic priests in face of such terrible events: Were they aiding Jews or were they indifferent to their tragedy? Testimonies of the World War II survivors are being collected in various archives and other institutions. We have studied those preserved at the Yad Vashem Archive. Having verified these testimonies, we have managed to find information about more than 110 Roman Catholic priests who were operating in German occupied Poland. To our surprise, in literally all the cases in which priests were asked for help, they never refused. In addition, we found one ambiguous testimony, in which the Jewish person complains that Germans were visiting a local priest and he did not refuse to give them food. At the same time it must be stressed that the number of more than 110 priests is obtained from one archive only. Research carried out by the Righteous for the World Foundation and other scholars in many archives in various countries reveals that approximately 1,000 Catholic priests risked their lives to save Jewish people in Poland under German occupation (cf. http://www.kpk-toronto.org/archives/clergy_recue_kpk.pdf). 3 Thanks to these materials, the following question was raised: How have these priests helped the Jewish people? In order to answer this question some documents, found in Yad Vashem Archive in Jerusalem, will be presented to show the testimonies of the Holocaust Survivors. On the Way from Auschwitz Fr. Alojzy Pitlok is described in the memoirs of Sara Erenhalt (née Flaks) (born 1923), who used to live with her family in Przemyśl. In 1941 she married Leon Patera. Soon their first child was born. A tragic twist of fate made her and her family stay at one of the two ghettos established by the Nazi Germans in Przemyśl. Leon was killed while trying to escape to the “Aryan” side. Sara’s parents and her sisters were deported to Bełeżec. Other members of her family, including her only child, were killed in the ghetto. In September 1943, she was taken, along with other people, to Birkenau (near Auschwitz). After the quarantine period, she was given the number 66952 and sent to work in the “Union” factory, located three kilometers from the camp. At the beginning of 1944, she was transferred to Auschwitz while continuing to work in the factory2. At the end of 1944, the process of liquidating the camp began. In January 1945, there were not enough wagons to transport all prisoners. The remaining camp prisoners were led in the so-called death march – barefoot towards German borders. To everyone’s surprise, Germans ordered a stop in the village of Poręba, near Pszczyna, and allowed prisoners to look for accommodation. Sara and six other women went towards the nearby houses. She recounts: “We all entered some cottage. There was an old man. We greeted him saying "Praised be Jesus Christ." We asked him about the night in his barn. He replied: Poor little things, how can I let you sleep in a barn at minus eighteen degrees. It appeared that our host was a priest, dressed at that time in secular clothing. We started talking to him and asking for shelter at his home. He agreed immediately to hide me and Genia. (…) We were trying to persuade him that we cannot separate from our female 2 AYV, Ref. O.3/1588, Testimony of Sara Erenhalt (née Flaks), pp. 2-3. 4 companions because we were together all the time in the camp, and if they go away, they surely will die.”3 Father Alojzy Pitlok agreed to host all of the women. He was also willing to offer them help after the liberation, “he said that it did not matter that we were Jews, but it was important that our guardian angel had sent us to him, and he could save us. He also underlined that if we did not manage to find our families, we could always come back to his place and find a job.” After the war, Sara contacted the Zionist organization. In 1946, she went to Israel.4 Keeping People Calm The story of Father Wojniusz, the parish priest in Kiemieliszki, is an interesting example of keeping people’s calm. Father Wojniusz as a balding, chubby old man, who was not too good at theology, or at making poignant speeches, but he “spoke right from the heart.” Thanks to that, his words truly reached his parishioners. As Masza Rudnicka recalls in her testimony, just when the first signs of mutual hostility appeared among the people of Kiemieliszki, Father Wojniusz reacted just in time. Masha describes it this way: “At that critical moment we were saved by Father Wojniusz, who announced a solemn procession, a sort of procession which is organized only at special occasions. There was such mystical mood among the Christians living in the village that people quickly forsook their actions.”5 Masha Rudnicka was later transported to the ghetto in Kiemieliszki, from which she would be relocated to labor camps. After the liberation, when she and her sister returned to Kiemieliszki, Father Henryk Wojniusz offered them help and took care of them. Testimony given by Rachela Rudnik, who, like Masza, had to stay for some time in the ghetto in Kiemieliszki, also confirms the aid given by Father Wojniusz6. 3 Ibid.. p. 15. 4 Ibid., p. 3. 5 AYV, Ref. O.3/2333, Testimony of Masza Rudnicka, p. 8. 6 AYV, Ref. O.3/1833, Testimony of Rachela Rudnik, p. 3. 5 Unbaptized “Priest” Another case concerns the priest belonging to the Polish National Catholic Church, not the Roman Catholic Church, mentioned in the title of the present paper. However, due to the uniqueness and distinctiveness of this form of aid in comparison with others, we would like to focus on this story more carefully. Alicja Heiler (born 1918), along with her family was living in Krosno when the war started. In her memoirs from that time, she recalls the story of her brother: “My brother, Dr. Stefan Stiefel (…), who currently lives in Austria, hid from NKVD roundups at the house of the Sochański family. Immediately after the operation, he turned to his friend Father [Lesław] Chodorski-Kędra, relative of the pianist Władysław Kędra. Chodorski belonged to the National Church. He agreed to give my brother a shelter at his house. What’s more, he sent him a priestly robe to make his leaving from Krosno to the country easier. And so, my brother left Krosno, at bright noon, dressed as a priest, accompanied by Jadwiga Niepokój and other friend named Cichocka. As they were walking down the street, women approached my brother to kiss his hand, in a common gesture, unaware who that priest was! As it is customary in small villages that the newly arrived priest celebrates masses, Father Chodorski had to think how to get my brother and himself out of trouble. He explained that my brother was a priest - a refugee from Poznań, who suffered a nervous breakdown after the Nazi persecution. My brother lived with Father Chodorski and his friends for some time. Later, given Aryan papers, he moved to Krakow.”7 The picture of Dr. Stefan Stiefel in a cassock can be seen at the Yad Vashem website under this address: http://collections1.yadvashem.org/arch_srika/1501-2000/1803-1869/1869_640.jpg 7 AYV, Ref. O.3/3421, Testimony of Alicja Heiler (née Stiefel), pp. 7-8. 6 Baptism During the Holocaust, some Jewish people asked to be baptized. That was, however, quite a complicated issue. They would have to find somebody who would agree to give them some classes of Catholic doctrine and to perform the Baptism. It was much easier to give just a fictitious baptism certificate, which could serve as a reliable document for obtaining the ID Card (Kennkarte). In one of the accounts we find a story of the Pilichowski family who lived in the Warsaw ghetto and in November, 1942 wanted to join the Catholic Church and get out of the ghetto: “All our family members were baptized in the parish of the Saviour in Warsaw. Father [Seweryn] Popławski agreed to baptize us at once without any further questions. Our Polish friend directed us to this priest. Our baptismal certificates became the proof that we were Aryan. My mother got her birth certificate for the name of the already deceased parishioner - Maria Anna Kowalewska. My father became Aleksander Franciszek Będzikowski. I and my sisters kept our original surname.”8 In this case, the family wanted to be baptized. It might be that they were led also by a desire to survive. Was it right for the priest to baptize them in such a situation? We leave this to your personal reflection. Motivations The reasons for aiding Jews people constitute an important issue. There were surely numerous reasons – a subconscious sense of responsibility, an instinctive moral duty, deep compassion, or just an ordinary, human reflex of solidarity. Sometimes the person helping had Jewish friends, whom they knew before the war, who came to them looking for help while facing death, sometimes they did not know each other at all. Father Jan Rębisz, in his letter of March 1947 that was sent to the Jewish Historical Commission in which he described how he helped a Jewish girl when he was a vicar at 8 AYV, Ref. O.3/2826, Testimony of Zofia Pilichowska (Weiser), pp. 7-8; cf, AYV, Ref. O.3/2338, Testimony of Anastazja Bitowtowa, pp. 2-3. 7 the parish church in Sokołów Podlaski, simply states: „I knew that we were both facing death but the thought of giving Christian help to my sister suppressed all my fears.”9 Conclusions Summarizing our work and research conducted at Yad Vashem, it can be firmly stated that the priests living in Poland under Nazi German occupation did not remain indifferent in the face of the tragic fate of the Jewish people. Polish clergy sought to save their suffering Jewish brothers and sisters with great courage, understanding, and compassion. They frequently risked their own lives at the time, when even the slightest act of human kindness was liable to be punished by death. BIBLIOGRAPHY AYV - Archive of Yad Vashem Testimonies Ref. O.3/2338, Anastazja Bitowtowa. Ref. O.3/1588, Sara Erenhalt (née Flaks). Ref. O.3/3421, Alicja Heiler (née Stiefel). Ref. O.3/2333, Masza Rudnicka. Ref. O.3/1883, Rachela Rudnik. Ref. O.3/2826, Zofia Pilichowska (Weiser). Correspondence Ref. O.62/478, List nadesłany w marcu 1947 do Woj[ewódzkiej] Żyd[owskiej] Komisji Historycznej w Krakowie przez ks. Jana Rębisza, wieś Dołha, st. p. Międzyrzec Podl. koło Łukowa, [A letter sent in March 1947 to Voievodship Jewish Historical Commission in Cracow by Fr. Jan Rębisz, village Dołha, railway station Międzyrzec Podl. close to Łuków]. 9 AYV, Ref. O.62/478, List nadesłany w marcu 1947 do Woj[ewódzkiej] Żyd[owskiej] Komisji Historycznej w Krakowie przez ks. Jana Rębisza, wieś Dołha, st. p. Międzyrzec Podl. koło Łukowa, [A letter sent in March 1947 to Voievodship Jewish Historical Commission in Cracow by Fr. Jan Rębisz, village Dołha, railway station Międzyrzec Podl. close to Łuków] 2. 8 Appendix Some documents in the Archive of Yad Vashem, which testify about the Catholic priests, who were saving Jewish people. Testimonies (alphabetical order): Ref. O.3/7433, Tzvi Abramovitz. Ref. O.3/4107, Oded Amarant. Ref. O.3/13133, Zipora Cheslava Anbar (Domb). Ref. O.3/2882, Sender Apelbaum. Ref. O.3/442, Halina Ashkenazi (Raps). Ref. O.62/53, Leokadja Bachner. Ref. O.3/7897, Shifra Ben Nun (Kahane). Ref. 0.33.C/3457, Ruti Ben Shalom. Ref. O.3/4812, Moshe Berezin. Ref. O.3/2827, Zopora Feiga Berkovicz Barkai (Reznik). Ref. O.33/7027, Helena Bibliowicz. Ref. O.3/2338, Anastazja Bitowtowa. Ref. O.3/4415, Bela Brawer. Ref. O.93/18946, Czesława Czereśnia. Ref. O.3/5315, Irma Irena Dagon (Anikst). Ref. O.3/ 12263, David Danielski Danieli. Ref. O.3/3376, Gina Diamant. Ref. M.49/6010, Jan Doliwa Śledziński. Ref. O.3/2999, David Enzenberg. Ref. O.3/10995, Miriam Erlich. Ref. O.3/1588, Sara Erenhalt (Flaks Pater). Ref. O.3/10098, Bracha Bronia Freiberg Bendori (Kleinman). Ref. O.3/3956, Szoszana Roza Gerszuni Nachimowicz (Medlinski). Ref. O.3/4457, Sabina Gilboa. Ref. O.33.C/1485, Chana Gindelman. Ref. O.93/28393, Władysław Głowacki. 9 Ref. O.3/10176, Batia Golan (Klig). Ref. O.3/2689, Miriam Goldin (Ginter). Ref. O.3/862, Esther Grinberg (Morgenstern). Ref. O.3/3494, Jehoszua Grinberg. Ref. O.3/3283, Priwa Grinkraut (Koniecpolski). Ref. M.49/4151, Rudolf Hermelin. Ref. O.33/193, Jakob Jehoszua Herzig. Ref. O.3/3512, Mosze Jung. Ref. M.11/376, Zelda Kaczerewicz. Ref. O.62/438, Szymon Kahane. Ref. O.3/3643, Ida Kapłan (Lewkowicz). Ref. O.3/1828, Szabtaj Kapłan. Ref. O.33/8486, Alek Elias Kleiner. Ref. O.3/2824, Teresa Komer (Esterstein). Ref. O.3/2518, Helena Korzeniewska. Ref. 0.33.C/4774, Yocheved Kreminitzer. Ref. O.3/174, Gina Lanceter (Hochberg). Ref. O.3/10545, Esther Liber. Ref. O.3/6820, Esther Lisak. Ref. M.49/1922, Szymon Loeffelholz. Ref. O.3/1652, Hena Nomberg (Bakalarz). Ref. O.3/5434, Ludwika Oberleder (Aran). Ref. O.3/7494, Ziona Oberman (Veisman). Ref. O.3/2668, Mina Omer. Ref. O.3/3527, Nachum Pelc. Ref. O.3/12885, Eliahu Perevoski Levin. Ref. O.3/2826, Zofia Pilichowska (Weiser). Ref. O.3/3878, Esther Pop (Tesler). Ref. O.3/182, Zeev Portnoy. Ref. M.49/1221, Ada Rems. Ref. O.62/179, Ada Remz. Ref. M.49/6274, Josef Rosenbaum. Ref. O.3/2611, Sarah Ross (Immelman). 10 Ref. O.3/ 2885, Zofia Roze (Haas). Ref. O.3/2333, Masza Rudnicka (Szvizinger). Ref. O.3/1833, Rachela Rudnik. Ref. O.62/172, Regina Rueck. Ref. M.49/1225, Jakub Sanzer. Ref. O.3/5538, Aleksander Serel. Ref. O.3/5645, Klara Chaya Stern (Heler). Ref. O.33, Sonya Stizel (Silber). Ref. O.3/2864, Witold Szymczukiewicz Ref. M.49/ 217, Jan Tarlaga. Ref. O.3/2567, Anna Thau (Wilf). Ref. M.11/374, Alter Trus. Ref. O.3/2365, Ewa Turzyńska (Trauenstein). Ref. O.33.C/4297, Aviva Unger. Ref. O.3/3333, Abraham Wand. Ref. O.3/6513, Henia Kristina Wasiak (Niewiadomski). Ref. O.3/5010, Marishka Yanovska. 1 Bishops Saving Jewish People in Poland Rev. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik University of Oxford/PUSC (www.pusc.it) p.rytelandrianik@pusc.it; tweeter: @xrytel Eleven out of thirteen diocesan bishops/administrators who remained in their dioceses in Poland during the Holocaust were helping Jewish People. The activity of the other two bishops is being researched. In addition, one diocesan bishop, who emigrated to England condemned the Nazi crimes against the Jewish population in London radio. In 1939 in Poland, there were twenty one Roman Catholic dioceses. Eight remained without diocesan bishops, who: were murdered (diocese of Płock); lived in exile (dioceses of Gniezno, Poznań and Włocławek); were interned (dioceses of Lublin, Łódź); were expelled from the diocese (diocese of Katowice,); or were forced to leave their diocese (diocese of Pińsk). Eleven out of the remaining therteen diocesan bishops or diocese administrators were involved in helping the Jewish population, which in Poland was unter death punishment. The activity of the remaining two bishops is being studied. It has to be underlined also that one diocesan bishops in emmigration condemned the Nazi crimes against the Jewish People in Poland. Diocese of Czestochowa - Bishop Teodor Kubina1 On arrival in Czestochowa in 1925, Kubina became friends with the local Rabbi Nachum Asz. During the war he encouraged priests to issue forged Catholic birth certificates to Jews and find shelter for them. Under the Bishop’s instruction, involvement of priests and laics in this effort was effective. Jews in Czestochowa were concealed in the convents of the Albertine Sisters, Magdalene Sisters, Sisters of Nazareth, Oblation Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face, Good Shepherd Sisters, Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate (starowiejskie), Ursulines of the Roman Union, Sisters of the Resurrection, and others. Similarly, the order of Saint Paul and Salesians of Don Bosco had sheltered Jews. The granddaughter of Rabbi Asz (now Elizabeth Zielińska-Mundlak) had been concealed in one of the convent kindergartens. 1 A preliminary version of this article appeared in wSieci Historii, 4/2014, 21-23 (in Polish). I thank Artur Rytel-Andrianik and Katarzyna Bruszewska for their bibliographical help. A. Klich, “Teodor Kubina: Czerwony biskup od Żydów,” passim; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 155; F. Stopniak, Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji, 25; J. Walter, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego, 14; P. Rytel-Andrianik, “Księża dla Żydów – wyniki badań,” 27. 2 Diocese of Kielce - Bishop Czesław Kaczmarek2 Like other bishops, he encouraged aid to Jews in all possible ways. According to numerous sources, Jews were hidden in Kielce in monasteries of the Albertine Sisters, Daughters of Mary Immaculate, Dominican Sisters, Sisters of Nazareth, Passionist Sisters, and Sisters of Charity. Priests and diocesans from Kielce were also involved in this aid. Archdiocese of Krakow - Archbishop Adam Sapieha3 There is list of priests who Archbishop Sapieha allowed to issue forged Catholic birth certificates to the Jewish People or baptize them if they wished. As a result, many people could get fictitious IDs (for example, the eleven-member Kleinmann family). In a letter of February 28th 1942, Sapieha wrote to Pope Pius XII about the concentration camps (castra concentrationis) in Nazi-occupied Poland. On November 2, 1942 he spoke with German authorities againts the terror towards the Jewish People. 2 F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 25; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 186-187; J. Walter, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego, 14. 3 P. Blett et al. (ed.), Actes et documents du Saint Siège, III, esp. 44-45, 539-541; W. Bartoszewski, Z. Lewinówna, Ten jest z Ojczyzny mojej, 50, 593-594, 824; T. Berenstein, A. Rutkowski, Assistance to the Jews in Poland 1939-1945, 40; E.K. Czaczkowska, “Są Sprawiedliwi znani tylko Bogu,” online: http://gosc.pl/doc/1808581.Sa-Sprawiedliwi-znani-tylko-Bogu/2 [January 12, 2015]; B. Kaliski, “Polityka okupantów wobec Kościoła Katolickiego,” 30; M. Kałuski, Wypełniali przykazanie miłosierdzia, 154-155, 170; F. Kącki, Udział księży i zakonnic w holokauście Żydów, 21, 42, 50-51, 113, 116-117; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 28-29; T. Pawlikowski, Adam Stefan Kardynał Sapieha, 82-86; F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 24-25; J. Walter, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego, 14, 33, 40. 3 Archdiocese of Lviv - Archbishop Bolesław Twardowski4 According to the testimony of Fr. Mieczyslaw Marszalik, secretary to Archbishop Twardowski, the four-member, Jewish, and baptized family of doctor Artur Władysław Elmer was concealed at the archbishop’s home for two years. Unfortunately, Elmer’s son was stopped by the Gestapo on the street on August 8, 1943, and after being tortured he disclosed their hiding place. The whole family was killed, and Archbishop was more frequently controlled. Diocese of Łomża - Bishop Stanisław Łukomski5 Józef S. Kutrzeba, known as Arie Fajwisz, describes that he wrote a letter to bishop Łukomski asking for permission to be baptized. The bishop agreed and supported Fr. Stanisław Falkowski, who was concealing him. Having the support of the bishop, Fr. Falkowski also gave shelter to other Jews, including – which is not widely known – famous writer Paweł Jasienica (Leon Lech Beynar). Diocese of Łuck - Bishop Adolf Piotr Szelążek6 Szelążek asked his diocesan priests to distribute a leaflet entitled “Protest,” in which its author, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, urged Polish Catholics to oppose German cruelties no matter what their attitude toward Jews was, because: “(...) he who remains silent in the face of murder – becomes an accomplice of the murder. He who does not condemn, condones.” The local Jewish population was given help owing to the support of bishop Szelążek. 4 G. Chajko, Arcybiskup Bolesław Twardowski (1864-1944), 386-388; M. Kałuski, Wypełniali przykazanie miłosierdzia, 157-158; B. Łoziński, “Życie za życie,” on-line: http://gosc.pl/doc/792380.Zycie-za-zycie [January 12, 2015]; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 134; F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 25. 5 S. Łukomski, “Wspomnienia,” 62; W. Jemielity, “Martyrologium księży diecezji łomżyńskiej 1939- 1945,” 55; E.K. Czaczkowska, “Są Sprawiedliwi znani tylko Bogu,” on-line: http://gosc.pl/doc/1808581.Sa-Sprawiedliwi-znani-tylko-Bogu/2 [January 12, 2015]; M. Kałuski, Wypełniali przykazanie miłosierdzia, 158; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 262-263; F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 25; J. Walter, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego, 15. 6 F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 25; P. Rytel-Andrianik “Księża dla Żydów – wyniki badań,” 27. 4 Diocese of Przemyśl - Bishop Franciszek Barda7 In a letter of November 4, 1939, bishop Barda wrote to pope Pius XII that the Curia building was being converted into apartments for Jews. In June 1942, he sent a request to Bernhard Giesselmann, the commissioner of Przemyśl, to move Catholic Jews to a safe place that they did not have to go and stay in the ghetto. Unfortunately, this brought the opposite effect. Jews were arrested and immediately deported to the ghetto. Some of them died. Bishop Barda also passed forged Catholic birth certificates to Jews, including Stanley and Lusi Igel (Igiel) and their daughter Toni (later Toni Rinde). Diocese of Sandomierz - Bishop Jan Kanty Lorek8 Jewish People prayed for a week in the synagogue of Sandomierz for the local bishop after he managed to successfully (and financially) free Jews in 1939. Moreover, some Jewish families were concealed in the seminary of Sandomierz and the cathedral tower. Bishop Lorek promised to give shelter to Yehiel Halevi Halshtok, Rabbi of Ostrowiec, but did not accept the help, saying he could not save only himself when his people were being killed. 7 S. Zych, Diecezja przemyska obrządku łacińskiego, 199-205; M. Janowski, “Polityka niemiecka władz okupacyjnych wobec ludności polskiej i żydowskiej w Przemyślu w latach 1939-1944,” 215; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 134; E. Rączy, Pomoc Polaków dla ludności żydowskiej na Rzeszowszczyźnie 1939-1945, 76, 79; E. Rączy, I. Witowicz, Polacy ratujący Żydów na Rzeszowszczyźnie w latach 1939-1945, 167; F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 25; J. Walter, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego, 14. 8 B. Kaliski, “Polityka okupantów wobec Kościoła Katolickiego,” 30; M. Kałuski, Wypełniali przykazanie miłosierdzia, 165; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 15-16; F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 25; J. Walter, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego, 14; Z. Zieliński, (ed.), Życie religijne w Polsce pod okupacją hitlerowską 1939-1945, 444. 5 Diocese of Tarnów - Bishop Edward Komar9 Komar encouraged his diocesans to help the Jewish and Gypsy populations. He did not yield to the pressure of the Gestapo to formally forbid priests to cooperate with the Polish underground and help Jews. Germans frequently searched his apartment and threatened him. In response to this, he informed Archbishop Adam Sapieha about the actions of German occupants. Archdiocese of Warsaw - Archbishop Stanisław Gall10 Gall was saving Jewish priests from Warsaw, including Fr. Tadeusz Puder, whom he appointed chaplain at the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary convent in Białołęka. He also allowed the issuing of forged Catholc birth certificates (e.g. to Rev. Marceli Godlewski), which helped rescue many Jews. Archbishop Stanisław Gall died in September 1942. 9 E. Kurek, Dzieci żydowskie w klasztorach, 211-215, 232-234; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 176-177; F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 25, 31. 10 P.F. Dembowski, Christians in the Warsaw Ghetto, 61-62; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 118; E.K. Czaczkowska, “Są Sprawiedliwi znani tylko Bogu,” on-line: http://gosc.pl/doc/1808581.Sa-Sprawiedliwi-znani-tylko-Bogu/2 [January 12, 2015]; F. Stopniak, Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji, 27; J. Walter, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego, 45. 6 Archdiocese of Vilnius - Archbishop Romuald Jałbrzykowski11 In 1941, the archbishop of Vilnius asked to conceal ghetto runaways at religious orders. He sent Jewish professors from the University of Stefan Batory – Michael Reicher and Julian Abramovich – to the Sisters of Nazareth convent. He also was a great support to the local clergy in saving the Jewish people. Some of them were killed for saving Jews. Bishop in Emmigration – Bishop Karol Radoński Apart from the above-mentioned diocesan bishops and diocesan administrators there were other bishops who, staying outside their dioceses, engaged themselves in helping the Jewish population. Karol Radoński, Bishop of Włocławek, for example, condemned German atrocities against Jews in his speech on December 14, 1942, on the London radio. He said: “The murders committed openly on Jews in Poland amidst the blustering and jibes of the executioners and their vassals must evoke horror and disgust in the entire civilized world. … As a Polish bishop I condemn with all certainty the crime committed in Poland on the Jewish population.”12 The Remaing Two Diocesan Administrators Activities of the two diocesan administrators: Karol Maria Splett (diocese of Chełmno) and bishop Czesław Sokołowski (diocese of Siedlce i.e. Podlasie Diocese) require further research. While Splett (who was German) was accused of lack of firm opposition to the commands of German occupants for the reason of his origin, Sokołowski’s activity is being more frequently shown in a positive light. 11 W. Bartoszewski, Z. Lewinówna, Ten jest z Ojczyzny mojej, 50; S. Bak, Painted in Words, 335-346, 353-360; M. Kałuski, Wypełniali przykazanie miłosierdzia, 171; D. Nespiak, “Żydzi na Kresach. Słowa i czyny,” on-line: http://www.lwow.home.pl/kres-zydzi.html [January 12, 2015]; M. Paul, Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy, 139; 146; F. Stopniak, “Katolickie duchowieństwo w Polsce i Żydzi w okresie niemieckiej okupacji,” 23-24; J. Walter, Dzieło miłosierdzia chrześcijańskiego, 15; Z. Zieliński (ed.), Życie religijne w Polsce pod okupacją 1939- 1945, 51. 12 G. Górny, Sprawiedliwi, 148. 7 Bishop Splett, diocesan bishop of Gdańsk, was appointed temporary administrator of the neighboring diocese of Chełmno due to the extremely difficult situation there. The main charge against him was his lack of opposition to German authorities. When Germans issued the regulation of October 1939 commanding the use of German language in churches bishop Splett repeated the order. This met with overwhelming criticism by Cardinal Luigi Maglione, the Vatican Secretary of State, who ordered to withdraw the regulation in a letter of November 12, 1940. Bishop Splett explained later that he had introduced it after Gestapo arrested six priests hearing confessions in Polish.13 Recent research by Rafał Dmowski showed that allegations against bishop Czesław Sokołowski, the administrator of the Diocese of Siedlce i.e. Podlasie Diocese, are largely unfounded.14 He has been alleged of, among other things, hosting Germans at his residence. At that time, however, bishop Sokołowski was moved from his residence by German occupants and was staying at a former Orthodox parish (37 Sienkiewicz Street). At the turn of 1943/1944 bishop Sokołowski was sentenced to death by the Home Army for presumed collaboration with the German occupants, which and this was later changed to infamy (deprivation of good reputation). Yet, how do we explain the fact that he appointed seven chaplains of the National Armed Forces in 1943, and was recommended as the future Archbishop of Warsaw by the anti-German Cardinal Hlond (letter of August 31, 1942)?15 In addition, it’s worth mentioning that according to some sources bishop Sokołowski was released from prison in 1939 on bail – watches gathered among Jews. Conclusions Relations of the auxiliary diocesan bishops with Jews still require further research.16 Additionally, study on Greek Catholic priests helping Jews, including the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv Andrey Sheptytsky, may bring important information.17 So far there has been no monograph on bishops who rescued Jewish People. However, it is clear that almost all bishops and administrators of Roman Catholic dioceses in Poland were involved in this assistance, although in this country it was under the death punishment. 13 P. Blett et al. (ed.), Actes et documents du Saint Siège, III, esp. 5-14, 23-24, 326-328, 336-340, 346. 14 R. Dmowski, Unitis Viribus, 157-188. 15 P. Blett et al. (ed.), Actes et documents du Saint Siège, III, esp. 629-631. 16 Cf. efforts of Karol Niemira, auxiliary bishop of Pińsk. Staying at St. Augustine parish in Warsaw (at the ghetto border) he helped over a hundred people, mostly Jewish children to escape fro the ghetto. Eugeniusz Baziak, auxiliary bishop of Lviv, was involved in the rescue of Karolina Jus (née Frist) and her family. 17 P. Blett et al. (ed.), Actes et documents du Saint Siège, III, esp. 625-629. 8 Bibliography Bak, S., Painted in Words: A Memoir (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press; Boston: Pucker Art Publications, 2001). 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