Concerned about historic truth
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Over 20,000 motorcyclists made a pilgrimage to Jasna Gora this year. The view was magnificent. Afterwards some 80 of them went to Dachau. I had the occasion to talk to one of the main organisers of this pilgrimage. Among other things he said that in Dachau very few people knew what had happened there during World War II. In fact, the barracks and fence of the concentration camp have been preserved and there is a cloister of the Carmelite Sisters next to them but people are not aware what happened there. Let me remind you: in Dachau, a town close to Munich, there was a training camp founded in 1933 in the former ammunition factory where the Nazi criminals were trained. They tortured and executed people of various nationalities. About 1,780 Polish priests, including those coming from the Diocese of Czestochowa, were transported there. In 1999 John Paul II beatified 108 Martyrs of World War II. The martyrs included priests from Dachau. In 1957 Bishop Franciszek Korczynski from Wloclawek published a book entitled ‘Jasne promienie w Dachau’ [Bright Beams in Dachau] (Pallotinum, Poznan). He showed the figures of the priests who were brought there. The extermination of the Polish clergy was carefully planned as one of the stages of liquidation of the Polish intelligentsia. The priests were starved and tortured. The Nazis made medical experiments on them. The Americans liberated the camp on 29 April 1945. The survivors included late Bishop Ignacy Jez of Koszalin and Archbishop Kazimierz Majdanski who knew that they had been saved ‘to give witness’. But the Germans do not want to remember that it was them who condemned Europe and the world to such a terrible fate, that they began World War II and earlier had elected Hitler as their leader, widely supporting him and wanting to build the Third Reich with him. Then they faced disaster and poverty but thanks to the American help they quickly stood on their own feet and built a strong economy. Currently, they are a leading country in the European Union, imposing their aims on the world economy and imposing their conditions. They are not eager to have the common awareness about the crimes against mankind that they committed as a nation. An example of that is the above-mentioned historical awareness of the inhabitants of Dachau. Therefore, one should not wink while speaking about this history that is so difficult for the Germans to accept but one should rely on the historic truth because only clearly defined matters make people friends. But the Germans form their own vision of the Third Reich in a different way. Several years ago I drove with a German priest through Nurnberg and instinctively asked him about the location of the building where the German war oppressors had been tried. He answered that he did not know. Then all matters were subordinated to certain German pedagogical politics. We must realise that the war criminals were concrete Germans and concrete Russians who played tragic roles in the destruction of world peace and they assumed the responsibility for having murdered millions of people. And one should remember that so that such history would not repeat. When we think about Dachau today let us remember that hundreds of priests were killed there – ca. 800 survived. The patron of the Dachau priests is Saint Joseph who has been venerated especially in the church in Kalisz. The survivors come to Kalisz every year to thank Saint Joseph for saving their lives. Since we should also know that just after the liberation of the camp in Dachau the plan of its liquidation was found and the plan included the extermination of all prisoners. Let us fervently pray to Saint Joseph for those priests who are with the Lord, asking them to intercede for new priestly and religious vocations for the Church. I would like to add that on 27 September – 4 October 2009 there is to be held the 10th Josephological Congress, which falls on the 20th anniversary of the apostolic exhortation ‘Redemptoris Custos’ of John Paul II. And next week (on 13 September) you can buy, together with ‘Niedziela’, a little album dedicated to St Joseph who can help you to prepare for the Congress.