Auschwitz Memorial chronicles the sacrifice of St. Maximilian Kolbe

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Krakow, Poland, Aug 14, 2019 / 08:46 am (CNA).- On July 29, the Auschwitz Memorial published historical photos chronicling the sacrifice of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who died in that Nazi concentration camp on August 14, 1941.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>29 July 1941 | After an escape from <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Auschwitz?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Auschwitz</a> of a Polish prisoner Zygmunt Pilawski SS authorities selected 10 prisoners for starvation death. One of them, Franciszek Gajowniczek, begged for mercy. Father Maximilian <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Kolbe?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Kolbe</a> sacrificed his life asking SS men to take him instead. <a href=”https://t.co/fpVznLQyJl”>pic.twitter.com/fpVznLQyJl</a></p>&mdash; Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AuschwitzMuseum/status/1155735026480427008?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 29, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

On July 29, 1941, after a Polish prisoner, Zygmunt Pilawski tried to escape, the SS security forces selected 10 prisoners to starve to death, as a lesson for the entire camp.

One of the prisoners chosen to be starved was Franciszek Gajowniczek, who asked for mercy. He mentioned that he had a wife and children. Fr. Kolbe offered to die in his place.

“Fr. Kolbe told the commandant, ‘I want to go instead of the man who was selected. He has a wife and family. I am alone. I am a Catholic priest,'” Gajowniczek told the NY Times in 1995.

In a Twitter thread, the Auschwitz Memorial has published the photos of both Gajowniczek and Zygmunt Pilawski, the man whose escape attempt prompted SS punishment.
 
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”pl” dir=”ltr”>Camp photo of Franciszek Gajowniczek, the man saved by Father Maximilian Kolbe in <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Auschwitz?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Auschwitz</a>. <a href=”https://t.co/yg8JJkJIG5″>pic.twitter.com/yg8JJkJIG5</a></p>&mdash; Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AuschwitzMuseum/status/1155735642510450689?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 29, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Zygmunt Pilawski, after whose escape from <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Auschwitz?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Auschwitz</a> the selection for starvation took place, was later arrested and once again imprisoned in the camp on 25 June 1942. He was shot on 31 July 1942. <a href=”https://t.co/gPpE90kpVo”>pic.twitter.com/gPpE90kpVo</a></p>&mdash; Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AuschwitzMuseum/status/1155917724247384064?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 29, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

The Auschwitz Memorial also published a photo of the starvation cell in which Kolbe died. He is reported to have led other prisoners in prayer as, one by one, they died. Though Kolbe was held without food or water for two weeks, he did not die of starvation. Instead, camp guards killed him with an injection of carbolic acid on Aug. 14, 1941.
 
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Cell no. 18 in the basement of Block 11. The starvation cell into which on 29 July 1941 ten prisoners were locked to die. Maximilian Kolbe was among them <a href=”https://t.co/PtOryHF9cM”>https://t.co/PtOryHF9cM</a> <a href=”https://t.co/s6ql73XlxQ”>pic.twitter.com/s6ql73XlxQ</a></p>&mdash; Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AuschwitzMuseum/status/1155776637839056902?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 29, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
 
He was canonized a saint on Oct. 10, 1982.

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