Religious Persecution: The Catholic Church
The Polish nation is known to be one of the most pious peoples in Europe, especially as far as
the peasants are concerned. The Polish Clergy, largely composed of sons of farmers, is enjoying high authority among the masses
on account of its generally high moral standing.
From the very beginning the German authorities of occupation started a campaign of barbarous
extermination of the Church in Poland. Its character and intensity can find no parallel other than the anti-religious terror
of the Bolshevists immediately after the revolution, while in some respects the Bolshevists themselves have been
The German authorities displayed, already in the Autumn of 1939, an attitude of particularly
ferocious brutality against the Church, especially in the provinces of Poznania, Pomerania and Silesia, and in the regions
of Wloclawek, Lodz and Kalisz. It is in those provinces that the religious life of Poland was most intense. The invaders
are therefore aiming at the complete destruction of the Church organization and religious life. They are even making it impossible
for the Polish population to participate in any religious worship. The aim has been achieved to a large extent through violence
The general practice of the Nazi authorities is to keep silent on everything concerning the "incorporated"
territory and to deal only with the "Government General" where the terror suffered by the Catholic Church and the Polish population
is not quite so ruthless as in Western Poland. This method is designed to produce among foreign readers or listeners the impression
that the "Government General" constitutes the whole of the Polish territory occupied by the Germans and thus to conceal the
monstrous crimes carried out in Western Poland. This method is used consistently by the Nazi palatines like Goebbels,
Frank and Seyss-Inquart in their speeches, and by the German radio or the official Deutsches Nachrichten-Buro.
1. The General Situation
Cardinal Hlond, in his final observations closing his second report to the Pope, gives the following
account of the general situation in the "incorporated" territories:
"Hitlerism aims at this systematic and total destruction of the Catholic Church in the rich and
extensive territories of Poland, which have been 'incorporated' in the Reich, in the face of all right and justice, because
of their metallurgical and textile industries, the abundance of their fine quality coal, and the fertility of their soil and
their beautiful forests.
"Except in the diocese of Katowice, where the invaders have observed certain limits in order
not to provoke the Catholic worlers in the metallurgical industries and the coal mines beyond endurance, almost everywhere
the ecclesiastical administration of the dioceses has been effectively destroyed. The bishops, even when they are left in
their Sees, are only allowed to exercise their pastoral functions to a very limited extent. One bishop has been deposed together
with his Suffragan. Two Suffragans are in concentration camps. No pastor can visit his parish, even secretly,although, after
such disasters and persecutions, his visits would be more than ever necessary. The curias, and their archives, are in the
hands of the police and cannot function at all.
"The Cathedrals have been closed and their keys are kept by the invaders; one has been made into
a garage. Five bishops' palaces have been invaded, and one of them has been turned into an inn, the bishop's chapel serving
as a ballroom. In the Chapel of the Primate's palace at Poznan the police have put a dog kennel. All the seminary students
have been dispersed and the seminaries occupied by Nazi authorities.
"The clergy are the most harshly persecuted. It is known for certain that 35 priests have been
shot, but the real number of victims, whose names could not be ascertained, undoubtedly amounts to more than a hundred. More
than 20 have died in prison. A hundred priests were maltreated and tortured; another hundred are suffering in concentration
camps; hundreds of others, again, have been driven into Central Poland. Those who have been permitted to stay are subjected
to numerous humiliations, are paralysed in the exercise of their pastoral duties, and are stripped of their parochial benefices
and all their rights. They are entirely at the mercy of the Gestapo, without possiblity of appeal.
"In many districts the life of the Church has been completely crushed, the clergy having been
almost all expelled; the Catholic churches and cemeteries are in the hands of the invaders. Catholic worship hardly exists
any more; the word of God is not preached, the Sacraments are not administered, even to the dying. In certain localities Confession
is forbidden. In the remainder of the territory the churches can only be opened on Sundays, and then for a very short time.
For seven months marriages between Poles have been forbidden. The Catholic Action has been completely suppressed. The Catholic
Press has been destroyed. The least initiative in the matter of the religious life is forbidden. Charitable associations and
works have likewise been dissolved.
"Monasteries and convents have been methodically suppressed, as well as their flourishing works
of education, publicity, social welfare and care of the sick. Their houses and their institutes have been occupied by the
army of the Nazi party. Many monks have been imprisoned; a great number of nuns have been dispersed. Soon there will be no
more traces left of hundreds of religious families, and in this way will be accomplished the annihilation of the intense contribution
which they have made to the religious, moral and intellectual character of the population.
"The invaders have, further, confiscated or sequestrated the patrimony of the Church, considering
themselves as its masters. The cathedrals, the bishops' palaces, the seminaries, the canons' residences, the revenues and
endowments of bishoprics and chapters, the funds of the curias and seminaries, the fields and woods constituting the ecclesiastical
benefices, the churches with their furniture, the presbyteries with their furniture and the personal linen of the priests,
the archives, and the diocesan and religious museums - all have been pillaged by the invaders. They rob for themselves and
the State; they take off to Germany everything that can be transported and leave the rest to the new German colonists. The
moral licence of their proceedings is illustrated by the fact, among others, that at Wroclawek Monseigneur Kozal's furniture
and effects were given by the police as a present to the prostitutes.
"Everything has been deliberatley planned with the aim of completely destroying the Church
and its vitality in one of the most religious countries in the whole world. The above enumerated terrible proceedings have
now continued in their intransigence and impiety for seven months. After so many centuries passed in the service of the Church,
Poland witnesses the establishment in its midst of a paganism so godless, so immoral, atrocious and inhuman, that it could
only be accepted by morbid minded individuals who have lost all human dignity and are blinded by hatred of the cross of Christ.
"It is like an apocalyptic vision of the Fides depopulata."
As an illustration of that general description of conditions, it may be added that in the dioceses
of Chelmno, that is in Polish Pomerania, only 20 out of 650 priests of the diocese, i.e. barely 3%, have been permitted to
remain at their posts. The remainder, i.e. 97%, were either shot, imprisoned or deported. The religious life of that province
has been completely crushed and driven underground as in the time of the early Christians.
In the autumn of 1940, German propaganda which succeeded in misleading certain Spanish papers,
endeavoured to spread abroad an impression that the situation of the Catholic Church under German occupation had
undergone a change for the better. These lies were immediately unmasked by the Vatican Radio. On November 16 and 17 a number
of broadcasts in different languages, including English and Spanish, stated that many millions of Catholics living in
Poland under German occupation are still suffering a brutal religious persecution, e.g. during the last 4 months
alone (i.e. from the middle of July to the middle of November 1940) at least 400 priests were deported from those provinces.
On November 29, 1940, a French braodcast of the Vatican Radio contained the following statements:
"A statement which
has appeared in one of the Breslau journals must be corrected. It referred to signs of the revival of religious life in Poland,
and to the protection which the faithful in that country enjoy in the performance of religious practices. The German journal
mentions the close relations alleged to exist between Catholic associations and the Polish Red Cross on the one hand,
and the German State authorities on the other. But the author did not mention that a large part of 5 dioceses is situated
on Polish territories unceremoniously incorporated with the Reich.
"In view of this the author's conclusions cannot be recognized as a criterion of the general
developments of religious life in Poland, but can only refer to the 'Government General.' Undoubtedly the churches in this
part of Poland are filled to overflowing with the faithful, but the Catholic associations in the 'Government General' also
have been dissolved, the Catholic educational institutions have been closed down, and Catholic professors and teachers have
been reduced to a state of extreme need, or have been sent to concentration camps. The Catholic Press has been rendered impotent.
2. The Treatment of the Bishops and of the Ecclesiastic Administration
The German persecution struck at the whole clergy from the bishops down to the vicars and junior
priests in small towns and villages. The members of the religious congregations share the fate of the lay clergy.
Nearly all the bishops in the area "incorporated" in the Reich were either interned or imprisoned.
The Bishop of Lodz, Mgr. Jasinski, has been subjected to home arrest and his house is closely
guarded. It is also known that the German authorities treated him with brutality, compelling him to sweep the square in front
of the Cathedral and the railway station, to remove debris and carry out other manual work.
The auxiliary Bishop of Lodz, Mgr. Tomczak, met with an even worse fate. We quote again Cardinal
"Mgr. Tomczak was arrested and sent to the concentration camp of Radogoszcz, near Lodz, where
he was beaten, insulted and forced to carry out humliating tasks. He is still there."
(Another report states that Bishop Tomczak was tortured by beating with a cane on his hands until
blood ran from his fingers.)
The situation in the diocese of Wloclawek is no better, as the report goes on to state:
Excellency Mgr. Radonski is at Budapest, whence the German authorities have refused him permission to return to his diocese
or to any other part of Poland.
"H.E. Mgr. Kozal, Suffragan bishop and Vicar-General, devoted himself most zealously to the service
of the people of Wloclawek during the hostilities. On the arrival of the Gestapo he was arrested and subjected to painful
examinations; and after 2 months passed in the prison at Wloclawek was interned in the concentration camp at Lad, of which
more will be said presently:
"The episcopal Curia has been raided and occupied by the police. Its Tribunal is unable to function
any more. Of the 42 clergy resident at Wloclawek, either as members of the Chapter, or attached to the Curia or the Catholic
Action, or engaged in the cure of souls, only one sick canon and one young priest were left; the rest were imprisoned and
sent to concentration camps.
"The bishop's palace was first denuded of its furniture, works of art, and linen. Then a Hitlerian
personage was installed in it, but he left it when the new masters of the palace had spoilt the central heating in the midst
of a severe winter.
"The Cathedral was closed after having been thoroughly searched by the police, who kept the keys
and are doing all they can to find the treasure.
"The residence of the canons, as well as the large and small seminaries, are occupied by German
It is known from other sources that Bishop Kozal was kept in prison together with common criminals.
According to the facts described in the report, the situation in the diocese of Plock is similar:
Bishop of Plock, Mgr. Nowowiejski, the most aged of the bishops in Poland, was ejected from his residence and is under arrest in
"His general assistant and Vicar-General, Bishop Wetmanski, was at first arrested, then released,
and finally sent to join Mgr. Nowowiejski in Slupno.
"The Curia of a diocese is not allowed to carry on its work."
According to news received in June, 1941, the 83 year-old bishop Nowowiejski died in a German
Here is an account of the situation in the Archdiocese of Gniezno contained in the first report
of Cardinal Hlond:
"At Gniezno the post of Vicar-General is held by the Reverend Edward van Blericq, metropolitan
canon, Doctor of Canon Law. When the Germans had occupied the territory, they forbade him to exercise acts of ecclesiastical
jurisdiction, a prohibition which was lifted in the middle of November. Moreover, the possiblities of so acting were limited.
The Archdiocesan Curia was closed by the Gestapo. The Vicar-General exercises his office in his own house, deprived of access
to the records and to the archives, which, on the contrary, are the object of study on the part of the police. He may receive
those priests only who obtain permission to come to Gniezno, but he himself is not permitted to visit the parishes outside
of the City.
"The money of the Curia has been seized and the fund of 80,000 zlotys sequestrated. Likewise,
the Metropolitan Tribunal of the first and second instance has been closed and taken over by the Gestapo.
"The Metropolitan Chapter was dispersed. The Vicar-General and Mgr. Krzeszkiewicz remain in their
houses. The others were deported to the 'Government General'."
One of the testimonies annexed to the report and dated November 29, 1939, gives the following
information about the fate of the canons:
"Canon Brasse has been in the concentration camp for 4 weeks. Canon Styczynski was driven from
his house. Canon Formanowicz is forbidden entrance to his house. Canon Tloczynski is in a concentration camp."
In a testimony attached to the report and dated December 10, 1939, we find the following account:
"The Primate's palace in Poznan has been completely ruined, the liturgical objects of devotion
destroyed, decorations torn down, furniture broken. They carried off the linens, wine and paintings; they burnt the records
and books. The palace is now closed."
The situation in Polish Pomerania is characterised by Cardinal Hlond's second report in the following
"H. E. Mgr. Okoniewski, Bishop of Chelmno, was evacuated by the Polish authorities and went to
Rome, whence he has been unable to return to his diocese, the German Government having refused the necessary authorisation.
His Vicar-General, Mgr. Dominik, a priest of great merit, fell seriously ill. The German authorities forbade him to carry
out his functions and he was scarcely restored to health when, on January 31, the German police ordered him to leave Pelplin
and establish himself in Danzig.
"The episcopal Curia at Pelplin (the seat of the bishops of Chelmno) was closed and its archives
confiscated; and the same was done with the ecclesiastical tribunal. All the members of the Curia without exception were deported.
"The Cathedral canons, with the exception of H. E. Mgr. Dominik and Mgr. Sawicki, were thrown
into prison and some were sent to forced labour. The other likewise had much to suffer. The head of the Chapter, Mgr. Bartkowski,
apostolic protonotary, despite his advanced age and precarious health, was forced to perform hard labour.
"The bishop's palace was entered and despoiled of all its treasures, works of art and furniture.
The valuable library, containing about 20,000 volumes, was pillaged. The diocesan park was laid waste. Shortly afterwards
the bishop's palace was turned into an hotel, its beautiful chapel being used as a ball-room.
"It is to be added that the archives of the episcopal Curia and the libraries of the diocese
(40,000 volumes) and of the Seminary were partly destroyed and partly dispersed."
In the "Government General" the diocese of Lublin remains the scene of the most ruthless persecution
of the Church. This may be due to the fact that the Gestapo in Lublin is headed by an individual who was responsible for the
Nazi campaign against Cardinal Innitzer in Vienna.
On November 8, in the afternoon, the Bishop of Lublin, Mgr. Fulman, his general assistant, Bishop
Goral, the Prelate Pobozny, the Chancellor of the Curia, Reverend Ochalski, and a number of other priests were arrested.
They were at first all taken to the prison in Lublin Castle, then locked in the pharmaceutical dispensary of the prison, and
finally the two Bishops and all the leading members of the diocese and clergy were deported to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg,
without being allowed to see anyone before their departure.
Mgr. Kaczynski, the author of La situazione della Chiesa Cattolica nella Polonia occupata
dai tedeschi gives the following account of the arrest and the subsequent sufferings of the two bishops:
"The Bishop of Lublin, Mgr. Fulman, was receiving in his Palace the clergy of the diocese when
Gestapo agents suddenly entered the building, arresting the bishop, his deputy, Mgr. Goral, and all those present. The Bishop
of Lublin was charged with hiding in the garden of his Palace, near the enclosure, a machine gun. It is to be observed that
the park surrounding the bishop's Palace is well out out of town, neighbouring with open fields, so that any object can be
easily thrown into the park over the low fence. Even some of the Germans belonging to the present administration of Lublin
were of the opinion that the machine gun was purposely planted in the park by the Gestapo chief who specialized in persecution
of the clergy. The charge made against the bishop is indeed a fantastic one, for it is hard to imagine that a man of over
75 years of age, of delicate health, and known to all for all his kind character, could threaten the powerful German army
with a weapon which he did not know how to use.
"After temporary imprisonment in Lublin Mgr. Fulman and his companions were judged in December
by an emergency Court (Sondergericht); the Court condemned them to death
after a secret session during which the accused were given no opportunity for defence. The penalty of death was later commuted
by the grace of the Governor-General to life imprisonment.
"After this verdict the two Bishops of Lublin together with other priests were taken to Berlin
and thence to the camp of Oranienburg and billeted in wooden sheds, built of thin board and suitable only for summer use.
Each of the bishops was locked in a separate cell. On their arrival at the concentration camp they were deprived of their
ecclesiastical robes, had their heads shaved and then were led under a shower of icy water. Then they had their film pictures
taken from all sides in the presence of the guards and of members of Hitler Youths.
"Mgr. Fulman, a tall man of broad build, was specially given small-size clothes so that he is
unable to button up his coat during the severe cold. The prisoners receive always the same food. It is composed of hot water
with a little flour in the morning, of potato or turnip soup at midday and a cup of black coffee at night, with 30 grammes
of bread per day. On Sunday some beans are added to the soup. The prisoners receive no fats or meat.
"The bishops must attend every day without coat or head-gear, even on days of severe frost, a
roll call which sometimes lasts from one to three hours. Mgr. Fulman was frequently so numbed with cold that he could not
walk back to his cell and had to crawl on all fours.
"The bishops and other prisoners are struck on the head for the slightest infringement of the
regulations. Whenever the Gestapo agents come into the cells the bishops have to stand to attention on the order Achtung!
"The treatment meted out to Mgr. Fulman, Mgr. Goral and other priests in the concentration camp
of Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg brings disgrace upon our age.
"Forty-Five other Polish, Czech and German priests live in Oranienburg under similar conditions
and suffer in some cases even more brutal treatment."
This is an account based on closely checked testimonials.
When the officials of the episcopal Curia in Lublin came to their offices on the day following
Mgr. Fulman's arrest they were also arrested and the Gestapo began to investigate the archives of the Curia.
The agents of the Gestapo and the Selbstschutz robbed the palace of Mgr. Fulman of all
its appointments, including many works of art; they even tore off the leather binding of the bishop's breviary and took off
the silver ornaments on an ancient Missal. The house of Mgr. Goral was also looted.
The canons were all arrested.
The Bishop Suffragan of Siedlce, Mgr. Sokolowski, was also arrested and imprisoned in Lublin
Castle before his deportation to Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg. Nothing is known of his subsequent fate.
The Bishop Suffragan of Cracow, Mgr. Rospond, was arrested and taken to Germany. The Metropolite
of Cracow, Archbishop Sapieha, is carrying on his work under extremely difficult conditions. The magnificent historical Wawel
Cathedral, which has seen the Coronations of many kings of Poland and contains their tombs, was closed November 1, 1939. The
German authorities eventually permitted two nominated priests to celebrate Mass in the cathedral twice per week - on Sundays
and Wednesdays. The Mass is not attended by the public but a Gestapo agent is present. The Sacristan and one Ministrant are
the only persons allowed inside the cathedral, from which they are escorted after the Mass by an armed soldier. The keys of
the Cathedral and its treasury are in the hands of the German authorities.
3. The Terror Suffered by the Clergy
Many priests, especially in the "incorporated" territories, were executed or simply murdered
without trial and even without the slightest pretence of a motive.
The total number of Polish priests executed or tormented to death in German prisons and concentration
camps was estimated in reports of January 1941 at over 700. There were at that time about 3,000 Polish priestsin German concentration
There are in prisons and concentration camps thousands of priets who are treated with inhuman
cruelty, beaten and humiliated at almost every moment. Their accommodation is designed to be particularly harmful to their
health, while the prisoners are systematically starved, for their food is inadequate both in quality and quantity.
Moreover, a large number of priests from the "incorporated' provinces were deported to the "Government
General." In consequence, the Province of Pomerania is almost entirely deprived of Catholic clergy. The Province of Poznania
aslo lost most of its clergy, while in the remaining "incorporated" territories at least 50% to 60% of the clergy were either
murdered, imprisoned, interned or deported.
Many of the priests, especially of advanced age and higher rank, were forced from the very beginning
to peform strenuous or humiliating duties. Numerous members of the clergy, especially during the first months of the occupation,
were held as hostages, together with other prominent citizens. In many towns in the Provinces of Poznania and Pomerania, priests
were compelled to witness the mass executions of their countrymen and then to dig graves for the dead and bury them.
The German authorities endeavour to humiliate and ridicule the priests in the eyes of the population.
They hope to attain this object by forcing the priests to perform hard labour in public places - in the streets, on roads
and bridges. The moral effect of this persecution is naturally to the one intended.
Various reports, not only from the "incorporated" provinces, but also from the rest of Poland
under German occupation, contain accounts of horrible cruelty, of which we shall quote the most significant.
The Archdiocese of Gniezno
According to the reports of Cardinal Hlond, the following priests were shot by the Germans in
Anthony Lewicki, Rural Dean and Parish Priest of Goscieszyn,
Michael Rolski, Rural Dean and Parish Priest of Szczepanowo,
Mathew Zablocki, Rural Dean and Parish Priest of Gniezno,
Venceslas Janke, Parish Priest of Jaktorowo,
Zenon Niziolkiewicz, Parish Priest of Slaboszewo,
John Jakubowski, Curate at Bydgoszcz,
Casimir Nowicki, Curate at Janowiec,
Ladislaus Nowicki, Curate at Szczepanowo,
Peter Szarek, a Lazarist Father, Curate of Bydgoszcz,
Wiorek, a Lazarist Father, Curate of Bydgoszcz,
Father Wybuda, of the Oblate Order, Parish Priest of Markowice.
The ostensible motives of the executions were often incredibly trifling. Father Niziolkiewicz
of Slaboszewo, for example, was accused of establishing a chapel, a long time before the war, in a former German school which
was quite legally acquired. Father Janke, of Jaktorowo, was simply found dead in a pototo field, near Gniezno.
On e of the executed priests, Dean Rolski, was aged 76.
Dean Zablocki, a middle aged priest of great kindness of heart, organized in Gniezno, with other
citizens, an emergency civic guard, designed to maintain order in the town after it was left by the Polish authorities and
police. When the regular German army reached the town, he was sent to the German commander in a car flying the white
flag, for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements. He was nevertheless shot twice in the arm. The Germans apologized
for this accident. When Father Zablocki had cured his wounds in hospital, he was taken to Inowroclaw with 14 other members
of the civic guard and they were all executed by firing squad.
"Reverend Marian Skrzypczak, curate at Plonkowo," states the Cardinal's report, "was killed by
German soldiers with their rifle butts."
"Rev. Joseph Domeracki, rural dean and vicar of Gromadno, died as a consequence of the hard labour
which was inflicted on him."
"Rev. Canon Boleslaus Jaskowski, parish priest in Inowroclaw, and Rev. Romuald Soltysinski, vicar
of Rzadkwin, died in prison.
"The vicar of Piaski, Rev. Kubicki, died in the prison of Stuthof."
Besides these cases on which detailed evidence is available, there were in the Archdiocese of
Gniezno probably about 20 other priests killed or tortured to death. It is believed that Canon Stepczynski, from Bydgoszcz,
was executed by firing squad. The Rev. Canon Shultz, from Bydgoszcz, was beaten immediately after his arrest until he was
unconscious and then he was taken away. It was learned subsequently that he was taken to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg
and died there.
Cardinal Hlond's report, dated January 6, 1940, further states that scores of priests from the
province of Gniezno are kept in prisons, suffering daily tortures and indignities.
"Some of them were deported to Germany and of those there are no news. Others have been interned
in concentration camps. The expulsion of priests into the 'Government General' has already started. The return is forbidden
and quite impossible. An increasing number of priests are deported. Some of the clergy managed to conceal themselves among
the people, accomplishing some measure of pastoral work in the regions which had already been completely despoiled of their
spiritual leaders. Arrest and imprisonment were often carried out in such circumstances that priests did not even have an
opportunity of either consuming the Holy Sacrament or placing it in a place secure from profanation."
Many priests were placed in the concentration camps of Kazimierz Biskupi, near Slupca, and of
Gorna Grupa, in Pomerania, in which there are 89 priests.
The Cardinal's report contains the following account of the conditions prevailing in those camps
and during hard labour:
"Those priests who are detained in the camp at Kazimierz Biskupi, if unable to pay 4 zlotys a
day for their support, are forced to do hard labour. In the camp of Gorna Grupa, they have been frequently maltreated. It
is not rare to see a priest in the midst of labour gangs working in the fields, repairing roads and bridges, drawing wagons
of coal, at work in the sugar factories, and even engaged in demolishing the synagogues. Some of them have been shut up for
the night in pigsties, barbarously beaten and subjected to other tortures."
Bydgoszcz was the city in which the clergy as well as the Polish population in general suffered
the most ferocious terror, described in one of the preceding chapters.
"Upon entering the city," states one of the reports, "the Germans arrested a large part of the civil
population and the clergy. The prisoners were lined up in the town square and ordered to remain motionless with their arms
raised for 4 hours. When the narrator, a member of the group, felt that his strength was failing, he asked a priest to
give him absolution. At this moment the prisoners were accorded a little rest. But when our informant crossed his hands on
his breast he heard the exclamation: 'You ass, you can pray, but that won't do you any good.' One of the victims - a
woman -unable any longer to endure this martyrdom, endeavoured to escape. She was immediately shot.
"Already there were seven corpses in the square, including those of the Fathers Szarek and Wiorek.
The former has suffered great cruelty. His nasal bone was fractured, his spectacles broken and his eyes put out, as it seems;
his jaw-bone broken and hanging, and one arm broken.
"To a corpulent priest the torturers cry out: 'You ass, why aren't you married?'
After such ill treatment, a part of the prisoners was placed in the cellars of the Lazarists,
another part in the barracks and in the stables. There often they were lined up while their tormentors struck them. Seeing
a venerable priest attacked in this way, one of the prisoners, a dean, interceded one day on his behalf, adding: 'This does
not reflect honour upon the Germans.' For this he was beaten with the butt-end of a rifle, which knocked out several of his
"The Reverend Curate Jakubowski was ordered to witness the mass executions in the market
square. When, overcome with nervous shock, he could no longer hold a cry of horror, he was struck with rifles and then shot.
"The Reverends Reiter, Kukulka and Musial were also brutally maltreated."
"At Bydgoszcz, in September, about 5,000 people were imprisoned in a stable, in which there was
not even room to sit on the ground. A corner of the stable had been designated as the place for the necessities of nature.
The Canon Casimir Stepczynski, rural dean and parish priest, was obliged, in company with a Jew, to carry away in his hands
the human excrement, a nauseating task, considering the great number of prisoners. The curate, Adam Musial, who wished
to take the place of the venerable priest, was brutally beaten with a rifle-butt.
"A repugnant scene took place at the Convent of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
of Bydgoszcz.The Gestapo invaded the papal cloister, and summoned the nuns to the Chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.
One of the police ascended the pulpit, and cried that the nuns were wasting their time praying, because, 'God does not exist,
for if there were a God we would not be here.' The nuns, with the exception of the Mother Superior, who was gravely ill, were
conducted outside the cloister and shut up for 24 hours in the cellars of the Passstelle (passport office). Meanwhile
the Gestapo searched the Convent, and one of the policemen carried to the Mother Superior, confined to bed in her cell, the
Ciborium that had been taken out of the tabernacle. He commanded her to consume the consecrated hosts, crying: Auffressen!
(eat them up). The unfortunate nun carried out the command, but at one point asked for water, which was refused. With an effort,
the nun managed to consume all the sacred species, and thus saved them from further profanation.
"In November, at Gniezno, about 300 families, assaulted totally unawares, were thrust out of
their homes, and shut up in the warehouse of a leather factory. Many were arrested on the street as they were returning from
church. It was here that the Chancellor of the Archdiocesan Curia, the Reverend Canon Alexius Brasse, the Director of the
Primatial Choir, the Rev. Canon Stanislaus Tloczynski, three Conventual Fathers, the Vicars, Rev. Bogdan Bolc and Lawrence
Wnuk were also confined. The last mentioned was taken by surprise, while still undressed, and was imprisoned, clothed only
in pyjamas. Only after several days was he permitted to send for his clothes. All of these citizens, men, women, young and
old, were shut up and confined promiscuously with the priests, with no separation whatever. This was a painful situation for
the poor priests, especially when some time later another 150 families were added. Finally, all were deported in cattle trucks
to the 'Government General.'
In one of the testimonies annexed to the first report of the Cardinal, dated 20th November 1939,
we find the following account:
"Fr. Namyslowski was beaten; they tried to force him by inhuman torture to profane the cross;
he was taken to Wrzesnia half dead, and nothing more has been heard of him. Fr. Smolinski, of Morzewo, was put in prison and
forced to dig potatoes. At Naklo the Pastor, Fr. Geppert, and his assistants, Frs. Chojnacki and Domek, were put in prison
and are probably at Weimar-Buchenwald; their church is closed, ecclesiastical funds confiscated; Fr. Chojnacki had been forced
to transport coal through the streets of Naklo. Fr. Koncewicz at first in prison at Gniezno, was later deported to Germany.
Canon Schwarz, at first in prison, was later interned. Mgr. Schenborn is in prison. The interned priests of the Decanate of
Trzemeszno were compelled to tear down a synagogue. For the past 2 months Mass has not been celebrated in the district of
Znin; all the priests are under arrest. At present, the priests of Znin are forced to break stones on the streets."
In the testimony of the 30th December 1939 we read:
"Incredible tortures are inflicted on those in prison. Some of the victims have lost their reason.
At Gniezno one night a soldier entered the prison cell and called a priest who was imprisoned there. He led him out saying:
'Come along, you will be shot.' The poor prisoner was recommending his soul to God, when the soldier said: 'Now you can
go back to your sleep.'"
Here are some excerpts from other reports:
1) "In Naklo the parish priests were immediately arrested and only the school chaplain, Rev.
Chojnacki, was left free. In November 1939 he was arrested, too, while listening to confession in the church. Soldiers and
uniformed members of the Nazi party dragged him from the confessional, took him out of the church and forced him into the
harness of a coal cart, which he was compelled to pull throughout the day, for the benefit of some German tradesman. Afterwards
he was taken away."
2) "In Lopienno, in the County of Wagrowiec, the Rev. Professor Nawrot was dragged out of bed
at night. He was allowed to put on only a shirt and trousers and was led barefoot through the streets, as a spectacle for
the crowd. A few weeks afterwards, on the night of October 19, three priests were arrested in the same locality: the
Revs. Badzinski, Gozdziewicz and the Rev. Professor Nawrot. They were locked in a pigstye."
The Archdiocese of Poznan
"The clergy is subjected to the same treatment as the priests of the Archdiocese of Gniezno.
They are maltreated, arrested, held in prison or concentration camps, deported into Germany, expelled to the 'Government General.'
At present, about 50 are in prison and in concentration camps."
The first report of Cardinal Hlond, completed on this point by his second report, contains the
following list of priests shot or tortured to death by the Germans:
"John Jadrzyk, Parish Priest of Lechlin,
"Anthony Kozlowicz, Parish Priest of Bukowiec,
"Adam Schmidt, Parish Priest of Roznowo,
"Ignace Czemplik, Parish Priest of Noskow,
"Anthony Rzadki, professor of Religion at Srem.
"There have been numerous reports to the effect that several other priests have also been shot.
"The following priests died in prison:
"Louis Haaze, Parish Priest of Kicin,
"Paul Polednia, Parish Priest of Krzyzowniki,
"Casimir Szreybrowski, Metropolitan Canon and Parish Priest of the Poznan Cathedral.
"Seven other priests also died in prison."
The bodies of the eleven victims were cremated so as to leave no trace of the sufferings which
had been inflicted on them.
It is to be noted that Father Anthony Rzadzki, who was referred to above, was executed by firing
squad in the main square of Srem, together with many other citizens of that town.
In Rogozno, the Germans also shot a priest, together with 7 other persons. The German authorities
did not permit an ordinary funeral to be carried out, but ordered the 8 bodies to be put into one case and buried in the local
Father Dziubinski, Parish Priest of Obrzycko, Father Laskowski, Parish Priest of Konarzewo, Father
Kluge, Parish Priest at Pniewy, were also shot.
According to more recent reports the Reverend Steinmetz, the Parish Priest of the collegiate
church of St. Mary Magdalene in Poznan, was shot. The Parish Priest of St. Adalbert's in Poznan, the reverend Narcyz
Putz, was arrested in spite of his state of health and suffered particularly atrocious treatment.
The Rev. Dr. Janicki of Sroda, the delegate of the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Hlond, to the
Association for the Care of Poles living Abroad, was tortured to death in the Fort No. VII in Poznan. During the period of
the most severe frost in the winter of 1939-40 he was - according to the testimony of an actual witness of that event - forced
to climb an escarpment covered with ice. He was so brutally beaten by his torturers that he finally lost consciousness. Then
he was placed in the so-called "hospital" of the fortress, the worst dungeon, in which he soon died. Poznan priests received
the worst cells in the prisons, with the ironic remark that they would be more suitable for contemplation. Other priests were
imprisoned together with common criminals.
In one of the villages of Wolsztyn County, the Germans inhumanly tortured the Parish Priest,
Father Roman Dajadczynski. He was twice stripped naked, driven through the village, and his arms twisted until he lost
the use of them. He was then taken to hospital; after a few days he was driven out and ordered to peel potatoes for various
German families. One day he was beaten unconscious, and lost his sight. He was tortured for a whole month, from the middle
of February to the middle of March 1940, until at last he was killed. The local people found his body among bushes some time
"At least 40% of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Gniezno and Poznan are in prison," states a
testimony of April 7, 1940, annexed to the second report of Cardinal Hlond. "Those who have suffered or will have to
suffer in the dungeons of the citadel at Poznan are true martyrs in the strictest sense of the term... many clergy have been
shot, or deported to Germany, where they die. Those who have had the worst treatment are Canon Szreybrowski, Curate Janicki
of Sroda, Father Hasse, Vicar of Kicin, and Canon Swinarski of Czarnkow. The priests' families were told that they must
pay three marks to have their ashes."
The Rev. Canon Swinarski of Czarnkow, referred to above, died subsequently in the camp of Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg.
The Rev. Professor Drygas and the Rev. Professor Krysinski of Poznan were tortured to death in the camp of Mauthausen. The
bodies of the two priests were cremated and the urn containing their ashes sent to their families so as to further offend
their Catholic susceptibilities.
Generally speaking, the clergy are living in a constant anxiety, threatened as they are day and
night with arrest and acts of violence.
Here are three examples of that barbarous terror, contained in other reports:
1) "In Podzamcze, in the County of Kepno, a German soldier was killed during a battle near
the vicarage. The Germans accused the local population of having killed him and burnt down the whole village. Then they attacked
the Vicar, Father Myszowiak. He was dragged out of his house and one of the soldiers tore off his cassock which he then donned
himself. The priest was driven with blows, to the body of the German soldier and ordered to dig a grave with his hands in
the hard soil and bury the corpse. After that the Rev. Myszkowiak was driven half naked through the village and then disappeared.
It became known, after some time, that he ahd been taken to a concentration camp near Nuremberg."
2) In Koscian the Rev. Graszynski, the chairman of the local branch of the Polish National Party,
together with some nuns, was forced to wash off the blood of the victims of a mass execution which was carried out on the
square in front of the church."
3) "In Poznan the Germans expelled the Jesuits from their house, arrested them and took them
to Golina in the Konin County. They drove up to a Jewish house, threw out the Jews, who were just having supper, and ordered in
the Jesuits, saying: 'You will stay here - there is even supper for you.' The Jesuits were then locked in the house, which
they were not allowed to leave."
The general situation of the clergy in the Archdiocese of Poznan, in the beginning of April 1940,
is summarized in the following words in the second report of Cardinal Hlond:
"5 priests shot;
"27 priests confined in harsh concentration camps at Stuthof and elsewhere
in the Altreich;
"190 priests in prison or in concentration camps at Bruczkow, Chludowo, Goruszki, Kazimierz Biskupi,
Lad, Lubin and Puszczykowo;
"35 priests expelled into the territory known as 'Government General.'
"11 priests died in prison and their bodies burned in crematoriums.
"11 priests seriously ill in consequence of ill-treatment;
"122 parishes entirely without priests."
Reports dated February 1941 state that in the Archdiocese of Poznan some 60 priests have been
murdered, and 240 are imprisoned; 143 out of 371 parishes are without priests.
The Diocese of Chelmno
The situation of the clergy in that diocese is characterized by the fact, referred to in Cardinal
Hlond's second report, that only 20 out of 650 priests have been left at liberty.
"The others," states the report, "were imprisoned or deported, or forced to perform exhausting
and humiliating labour, at which some died of fatigue.
"Those priests who worked in the Catholic Youth Association had most to suffer.
"It is not known where the majority of the clergy are detained, as the German authorities keep
it a secret. It seems likely, however, that a large number are imprisoned in the concentration camp at Gorna Grupa, and the
rest in that of Kazimierz Biskupi, or at Stuthof near Danzig, if not in other concentration camps in Germany. Some, however,
were sent to the area of the 'Government General.'
"It is stated that a large number of priests have been shot, but neither the number nor
the details is as yet known, as the occupation authorities maintain an obstinate silence on the point.
"In any case it seems certain that 9 priests:
"Mgr. Felix Bolt, the octagenarian Parish Priest of Srebrniki.
Fr. Burdyn, Parish Priest of Gorna Grupa,
Fr. Chudzinski of Pelplin,
Fr. Dykier, Curate of Fordon,
Fr. Echaust, Curate of Nowe,
Fr. Kotowicz, Parish Priest of Pieniazkowo,
Fr. Litewski, Curate of Sliwice,
Mgr. Bernard Losinski, Parish Priest of Sierakowice, and Father Raszkiewicz, Curate of Fordon,
have been executed.
"Mgr. Szydzik, apostolic protonotary and Parish Priest of Fordon, died in prison, and Fr. Kaszubowski,
Parish Priest of Kossakow, died as a result of the sufferings he endured in prison."
Some of the names mentioned in the report require a few words of comment.
The only guilt of the Rev. Prelate Felix Bolt, aged 80, was that he was organizing the Polish
economic and cultural life in Pomerania before the first world war of 1914, and that he was elected a member of the Polish
Parliament and then of the Senate.
Another of the executed priests, the Rev. Canon Bernard Losinski, of Sierakowice, also about
80 years of age, was elected to the Parliament on several occasions by the local population which had known and respected
him ever since the pre-1914 days.
Both those aged leaders of the Polish clergy in Pomerania, men of the finest character, were
killed by the Germans simply because they were Poles who had assumed the leadership of the Polish population of Pomerania.
The Rev. Dr. Chudzinski, of Pelplin, the publisher of two Catholic dailies, Pielgrzym
and Goniec Pomorski, was murdered for the same reason. He was shot in the market square in Tczew, and before his
death he was forced by his executioners to confess two Jews amidst the jeers of the German crowd.
Besides the priests mentioned in the Cardinal's report, there were many other victims. One of
them was the Rev. Bronislaw Dembienski, of Nowemiasto Lubawskie, the editor of a Catholic daily, Drweca and
a publisher of Catholic books.
It is believed that the Rev. Joseph Wrycza, the Vicar of Wiele, a former Chaplain with the rank
of Colonel in the Polish Army during the Bolshevik war of 1920, also met his death at the hands of the Germans.
In addition, it is known that Father Mitrega has been murdered.
Here are excerpts from other testimonies:
1) "In Torun, Prelate Ziemski, an aged man revered by every one, was forced to labour with other
members of the local population on bridge reparations. The Honorary Consul of France, Mr. Hozakowski, worked by his side.
When the old priest, exhausted by the task, fell into the water, the other labourers hastened to his rescue. But the S.S.
agents put a stop to their humane endeavours by shooting him as he struggled in the river in a vain attempt to reach
2) "In the same town the Redemptorist Monks were locked in a synagogue and ordered to undress
and wash, throughout the day and night, corpses in the state of advanced decomposition. The guards wore masks of cotton wool
to protect them against the terrible stench. When the monks dropped down with fatigue they were beaten. One of the victims
was Father Szelderski, the well-known historian, aged 72. Afterwards all the monks were taken to Swiecie."
3) "As soon as the German troops entered Pelplin all the priests with the exception of 2 Germans
(Manthey and Sawitzky) were driven to the farm of the Seminary, where they were given spades and escorted to the Wola estate.
There they were forced to dig potatoes. Old men of 60 to 75 who could not walk fast enough were beaten with the butt-ends
of rifles. Afterwards all the priests (about 30) were taken to a concentration camp in Germany. Some of them died there."
4) "All the priests in Gdynia have been either arrested or expelled. When a priest who was
being beaten in a concentration camp cried out 'I am a Roman Catholic,' the Nazi guard struck him twice in the face saying:
'One for the Catholic and one for the Roman'."
5) "Priests have been clearing the sidewalks on their knees. Such scenes were seen in Gdynia,
Wejherowo and other towns."
In the County of Starogard only 3 parishes out of 17 are provided with priestly ministration,
only 4 priests are left out of 72, and 20 priests have been executed.
It is reckoned that some 200 priests were shot or otherwise murdered in the prisons and camps
in Pomerania. Some 500 priests were held in the prisons at Torun, Grudziadz, Swiecie, Bydgoszcz, Fordon and Koronowo, and
were afterwards transferred to concentration camps. Here they are being ill-treated and tortured.
In the Free City of Danzig neighbouring with the diocese of Chelmno, the Polish Vicar
of the Parish of St. Stanislas was assaulted and severely beaten. Other priests were also assaulted.
When mass arrests of priests were carried out in the early days of the occupation in Pomerania
and in Danzig, laymen imprisoned together with the priests lent them their clothes to save them from the fury excited in the
guards by the sight of a cassock.
In February 1941 came the news that in the concentration camp in Stutthof, near Danzig, 4 Polish
priests from Danzig, died: Fathers Komorowski, Rogaczewski, Wiecka and Hoeft. They were placed in this camp immediately
after the entrance of the occupants and were most brutally treated and subjected to beating and abuse. It is not known whether
they were murdered by the hirelings of the Gestapo or wether they died from the tortures inflicted upon them.
The Diocese of Katowice
We quote Cardinal Hlond's second report:
"The secular and regular clergy of Katowice are in a painful and difficult situation as the German
authorities take no official notice of them whatsoever. The priests are frequently exposed to insults and vexations of all
kinds, particularly at meetings of the N.S.D.A.P. party and at those of the Hitler Youth, who surpass themselves in invectives
against the Church and its clergy.
"Some priests have been executed, others arrested. For example:
a) Father Mamzer, Curate of Gostyn, was shot by the Germans;
b) Father Kukla, Curate of Konczyce Wielkie, died in prison in consequence of the atrocious
treatment which he suffered.
c) Father Kwiczala, Curate of Cieszyn, died in Cracow as a result of the torture and atrocities
he endured in prison;
d) Four priests died in prison in unknown localities, viz.:
Father Galuszka, Curate of Jablonkow,
Father Kupilas, Parish Priest of Ledziny,
Father Henry Olszak, Parish Priest of Trzyniec, and
Father Robota, Parish Priest of Gieraltowice.
"The treatment inflicted on certain priests has been outrageous.
"For example, Fr. Kupilas, Parish Priest of Ledziny, was shut up for 3 days in the confessional
of the church at Bierun, where 300 women were imprisoned at the same time without anything to eat and without being allowed
to satisfy their natural needs.
"Fr. Wycislik, Parish Priest of Zyglin, was arrested and beaten in the streets of Tarnowskie
Gory until the blood ran, and kicked and even trampled on until he lost consciousness.
"Curate Budny had his sides pierced by numerous bayonet stabs, because the German authorities
had ordered him to hold his hands up, and after a certain time he was unable through fatigue to do so any longer.
"The terrorism to which the clergy and the 500 civilians interned in the concentration camp at
Opava (Troppau) in the Sudetenland were exposed during September and October, 1939, was particularly frightful. On their arrival
they were received with a hail of blows from sticks. Priests were confined intentionally together with Jews in wooden huts,
without chairs or tables. Their bedding consisted of rotten and verminous straw. The Germans forced the priests to take off
their cassocks, and their brevaries, and rosaries were taken from them. They were set to degrading labours. For any infraction
of the regulations, even involuntarily, the prisoners were beaten; sometimes, merely in order to terrorise them, or perhaps
from caprice, they were beaten until the blood ran. Many died, among them Father Kukla, above mentioned, and, it seems, also Father
Galuszka, Curate of Jablonkow, of whom no news has been received since that of the harsh treatment he was enduring in the
camp in question."
In the testimony of February 27, 1940, annexed to the second report of Cardinal Hlond, we find
the following account:
"A few days ago I was at Katowice, when there were renewed mass executions of Poles near the
municipal park. Among the victims were priests. Their eyes were bandaged with pocket handkerchiefs. After the volley had been
fired, these same handkerchiefs, bloodstained though they might be, were used to bandage the eyes of others of the condemned.
One of the priests was not killed and began to rise. He was then despatched by blows from gun-butts."
Such is the picture presented by the Cardinal's report. His account finds confirmation in another
"The priests are treated in concentration camps alike with the Jews. They are ordered to clean
lavoratories and they sleep on straw infested with lice. They are beaten and their wounds are soaked with salt water, causing
the flesh to disintegrate. Their wounds allow them only to lie face downwards. Father Wycislik, of Tarnowskie Gory, was the
object of particular cruelty: he was ordered to lie on the threshold, so that everyone entering the room had to tread over
his body. He repeated the rosary aloud while suffering this atrocious treatment."
Similar conditions prevailed in the concentration camp of Sosnica near Gliwice.
Besides the priests already named, the following members of the clergy were arrested - according
to other reports - in Cieszyn Silesia alone; Father Superior Franciszek Kaluza, Jesuit administrator in Western Cieszyn; Father
Pirog, Curate in Western Cieszyn; Father Marian Gazek, Curate in Zebrzydowice; Father Karol Franek, Vicar of Dziecmorowice;
Father Joseph Olszak, administrator in Dziecmorowice; Father Leon Haronski, Vicar of Leszna Gorna; Father Jan Taska, administrator
in Laki; Father Murza, of Piotowice.
According to subsequent reports, Father Haronski, Vicar of Leszna Gorna, died in a concentration
camp in Germany.
Among the priests arrested in Upper Silesia were the Rev. Plonka, of Katowice; the Rev. Matuszka,
of Siemianowice; Father Pawleta, the illness-ridden Vicar of Piekary Rudne; the Rev. Professor Marekwica; Father Bak; Father
Niedziela, of Pawlowice; Father Wandrasz; Father Tamarczyk; Father Raba, of Laziska; Father Kwapulinski; Father Boda, and
"Father Gayda, of Chorzow," as states one of the reports, "was deported to Dachau for having
said: 'Queen of Poland, pray for us!' during the litany to the Holy Virgin."
Diocese of Lodz
"A terrible avalanche of arrests and penalties," states the second report of Cardinal Hlond,
"struck the secular and monastic clergy. At least half of their number were arrested and imprisoned or deported. After
suffering all kinds of indignities in an ordinary prison, the priests were sent to the concentration camp of Radogoszcz, near
Lodz, a centre of terrorism and sadism."
An eye-witness reports as follows:
"In the diocese of Lodz alone several dozens of priests and religious clergy, with their Bishop,
Mgr. Tomczak, were sent to Radogoszcz. The newcomers were greeted with a terrible hail of blows with sticks, which did
not spare even H.E. Mgr. Tomczak. The majority were then left without food for 3 days. The number of those detained amounted
to about 2,000. They had to sleep on mouldy straw. The guards insulted and cruelly maltreated the prisoners.
"One could not enumerate all the insults and humiliations inflicted on them. The priests were
made to wash out the latrines with their hands. It was not rare for the guards to order the prisoners to kneel down in a row,
touch the ground with their foreheads, and call out, 'We are Polish pigs.' One day a policeman came into a room and said
sarcastically, 'You would like me to hang a picture of the virgin on the wall for you pray for victory? That would be the
last straw.' Then, turning to the Bishop, he added, 'You also will be hanged soon.' A man who asked to be allowed to tend
the Bishop's injured foot was shot." (Authentic statement.)
After long weeks of this sort of treatment, the sick priests were dismissed from the camp, and
immediately sent to the "Government General." In this way the unhappy diocese was deprived of its clergy.
In another report we find the following account:
"The priests in Lodz are suffering terrible persecution. Once a priest was seen in harness, together
with horses, drawing a furniture van. In Piotrkowska Street, the main thoroughfare of Lodz, priests were compelled by the
Germans to clean the gutters during rain. Another priest was seen daily sweeping the street in front of the jail.
"After the Germans had blown up the Kosciuszko monument, they forced the clergy of the town,
together with the Jews, to clear away the debris."
The Diocese of Wloclawek
Cardinal Hlond's report describes the conditions in that diocese in the following words:
"The clergy are suffering the same fate as those of the other dioceses 'incorporated' in the
Reich. Both secular and regular priests are maltreated, injured and beaten. Half of the clergy have been arrested. After weeks
spent in various prisons where they have suffered treatment which has been described elsewhere, these priests were collected,
together with those of the contiguous dioceses, in three concentration camps: Gorna Grupa, at Kazimierz Biskupi, and at Lad.
In the last named Mgr. Kozal and about 80 priests are detained: they live in the College of the Salesians, the Director of
which is charged with their maintenance.
"From the said concentration camps the priests are sent in groups to the 'Government General,' whilst their
places are filled by others who have been forcibly removed from their parishes. In this way Catholic life in these districts
is being destroyed according to a pre-arranged plan. There are, however, some priests who are living in hiding and continuing
their work among the people.
"At Kalisz, Father Pawlowski, Parish Priest of Chocz, was publicly shot. He was led to the place of execution
barefoot and without his cassock. The police compelled the Jews to fasten him to the execution post, to unbind him after he
had been shot, to kiss his feet, and to bury him in their ritual cemetery."
The circumstances of the murder of 70 year-old Father Pawlowski were so terrible that we will quote another
testimony on the subject:
"The Gestapo arrested Father Pawlowski, charging him with concealment of arms. At 2 a.m. a close search
was made throughout his house, resulting in the discovery of two old sporting-gun cartridge cases (the vicar, in spite
of his age, liked to shoot partridges before the war). Immediately afterwards the priest was cruelly beaten so that his
shirt was soaked with blood and his face was lacerated beyond recognition. Then Father Pawlowski was driven throughout the
night, in his trousers and shirt alone, along the 20 mile long road to Kalisz. On October 17, 1939, in the morning the population
of the town was herded in the square and the priest was publicly shot, after having been tied to a post" (in the circumstances
"The Germans - states the same report - arrested all the Jesuits in Kalisz. It was alleged that a shot was
fired from the windows of their monastery - an obvious untruth. They were taken from the monastery to the cemetery of
Tyniec about a mile and a half from town. They were all ordered to march with their arms uplifted. The Father Superior, the
Rev. Sopuch, was unable to keep his arms up for such a long time, but whenever he dropped them down, overcome with fatigue,
a German soldier struck him with the butt of his rifle. Father Konopinski was holding in his hands a breviary, but the escorting
soldiers tore it out of his hands and trampled on it with their feet, beating the priest.
"Near the Tyniec cemetery they were led into a field and told to turn their backs to the guards. They were
to be shot, but the execution was stopped at the last moment. The prisoners were taken to jail in which they were held a long
"Two monks were deported to the new concentration camp for Poles in Gagau, in Silesia.
"The Germans are still treating the clergy very badly. They always address the priests in the contemptuous
"The Jesuit monastery in Kalisz was turned into a prison in which Poles resisting deportation are jailed."
It is believed that one of the leading members of the Kalisz clergy, Father Zaborowicz, was hanged by the
"In the first days of November, 1939," states another reliable report. "eight priests from Piotrkow Kujawaski
and the neighbouring localities Sadlno, Byton, Patajewo, etc., were imprisoned and then shot in that town.
"Four Fathers and 3 Brothers of the Franciscan order were deported to Kalisz from their monastery of Chocz.
They were held without being given any food for 28 hours, their habits were torn off and they were forced to clean latrines
with their hands.
"Prelate Florczak, of Turek, near Kalisz, was arrested in Poznan and beaten until he was covered with blood.
Then he was released for a short time and arrested again. He is still in prison."
"In Wroclawek," states another report, "Twenty priests and 22 clerics were arrested, besides the Bishop,
Mgr, Kozal. A monk was arrested when he was celebrating Mass. He was dragged away from the altar. The town of Wloclawek has
been completely deprived of priests."
The Diocese of Plock
The conditions in that diocese are described in Cardinal Hlond's report in the following words:
"A large part of the clergy were arrested, detained in the monasteries, and finally expelled into the occupied
territory called the 'Government General.' The extensive district of Mlawa, Przasnysz and Ciechanow, which extends from the
borders of East Prussia to the Vistula, has lost many of its clergy. Those of Rypin County had to endure the most suffering.
There are parishes without pastors and without Mass. Marriages are forbidden. The Catholic Action does not exist any more.
The Sunday services are limited to only two hours.
"At Soczewka the Vicar Kwiatkowski was shot; other priests have disappeared and there is no news of them."
Archdiocese of Warsaw
"The day after the occupation of Warsaw," states one of the reports, "the Germans arrested the majority
of the clergy, incarcerating some 330 priests, 80 school-teachers and several professors. They seized them haphazard in their
homes, or simply arrested them in the streets, not sparing the priests brutal kicks, hustling them and threatening them with
their revolvers without reason. At the prison, after a perfunctory enquiry - and more often, without even that - the groups
were turned over to the guards.
"The prisoners were thus detained for 2 weeks under horrible conditions: without sufficient water, in dark
cells without window-panes or windows; without sufficient food; unable to carry out the most elementary forms of hygiene;
without Mass, even on Sundays; and with no possibility of having their brevaries brought them. The prisoners were taken twice
a day, all together, to six public conveniences, all in one place, which were, through lack of water, in a disgusting condition.
"The sound of shots from the execution was made within the hearing of the prisoners with the aim of depressing
and undermining the spirit of the imprisoned priests.
"No reason was given for their arrest. On October 11, the priests aged over 60 and some of those who were
ill were released. On October 14 the Reichskommissar, Dr. Otto, visited the prison and made a speech in which he
stated that the prisoners will be released on the following day if they undertake to keep away from politics, and especially
avoid the mention of political subjects in sermons, generally refraining from any activity harmful to the German State. The
Gestapo officer repeated this promise in the prison infirmary.
"Contrary to that promise many priests, including the most prominent among them, were detained in prison
on the following day.
"The majority of those priests were released after some time, but many others were detained and several
new ones were arrested. Among those detained in the prison were the Fathers Dettkens, Florczak, Hilchen, Jachimowski, Suwala,
Szkudelski, Wilk - the Guardian of the Franciscan Convent, and others.
"The second series of arrests took place on November 10. Canaon Mystkowski, vice-rector of the Diocesan
Seminary and the professors of the Seminary, Fathers E. Dabrowski and Ulatowski were then arrested for the second time."
Another report, dated January 1, 1940, states that the following Warsaw priests were at that time in prison:
E. Dabrowski, Edward Dettkens, Henryk Czapczyk, Tadeusz Jachimowski, Alexander Zyberk-Plater, Feliks Kozlowski, Kauczynski,
Kliszka, Stanislaw Mystkowski, Wladyslaw Lewandowicz, Wisniewski, Kowalski, Sowinski, Ulatowski, Weglewicz, Marceli Nowakowski,
Great anxiety is felt for Father Nowakowski, the vicar of the parish of St. Saviour's.
"In the second half of February, 1940," states Mgr. Kaczynski in his report entitled La situazione Chiesa
Cattolica nella Polonia occupata dai tedeschi, "Father Marceli Nowakowski was sentenced to death merely because leaflets
with a prayer for the independence of Poland were found in his church. It is still not known whether the sentence was carried
out, for the Gestapo never provides any information in the subjects of persons condemned to death or deported to a concentration
camp, no matter whether they are laymen or priests. If a death sentence is carried out, the Gestapo does not give up the body,
but buries it at night in some remote spot. As there is no information about many priests arrested several months ago, no
one knows whether they are still alive and if so, where they are detained.
"In March, 1940, there were 30 priests in Warsaw prisons, including 18 members of the archdiocesan clergy.
"In Mszczonow, near Warsaw," states the same report, supported by other evidence, "the Gestapo shot the
vicar, Father Paciorkowski, and his 2 curates. They were killed in the vicarage, without any accusation or trial."
In the County town of Gora Kalwaria, near Warsaw, the local parish priest, Fr. Sejna, was executed by firing
So far 7 priests from the archdiocese of Warsaw were tortured to death in concentration camps.
In January, 1941, 3 priests, named Burakowski, Gromulski and Kubrycht, were arrested in Warsaw.
Most of the Decanate of Kutno, which belonged to the archdiocese of Warsaw, has been "incorporated" to the
Reich. Its clergy is suffering the persecution inflicted on all priests in "incorporated" territory.
The Diocese of Sandomierz
Many priests were arrested. In the largest town of the diocese, Radom - about 70,000 inhabitants - there
were cases of barbarous terror.
The report of Mgr. Kaczynski, quoted above, states that 4 priests were massacred during a Gestapo interrogatory
in that town. Their teeth were knocked out and their jaws broken.
"The following questions were among those asked by the police," states the report, "'Do you believe in God?
If you do, you are an idiot, and if you don't you are a charlatan.' When the victim observed that the question itself was
blasphemous, he was struck on the face."
"Another question was: 'Who is the greater statesman - Hitler or Mussolini?' When the priests named Mussolini,
they were beaten again and told that they were liars, for Hitler is greater than Mussolini. The type of the questions asked
and the methods of Gestapo questioning require no comment."
In the diocese of Sandomierz 7 priests have been killed, according to latest reports received in March,
They were 5 Franciscans from the Skarzysko-Kamienna, Fr. Paul Koppa, prior of the Oblate Order at Swiety
Krzyz and Canon Stanislas Klimecki.
Some of these victims were thrashed and treated in the worst possible way by the Germans before death.
This was the fate of Canon Klimecki: on the way to the place of execution they tore his cross from him and
beat him in the face with it.
The Diocese of Lublin
Besides the two bishops of Lublin, H. E. Mgr. Fulman and H. E. Mgr. Goral, and the members of the Diocesan
Chapter, 150 priests have been under arrest since October, 1939. Thus the majority of the diocesan clergy are in prison. This
fact is confirmed by the report La Situazione della Chiesa Cattolica nella Polonia occupata dai tedeschi, which also
adds that many priests are compelled to remain in hiding.
The vicar of Kreznica, near Lublin, Father Jar, was executed. Moreover, the Germans murdered 10 other priests
from the diocese of Lublin. Many priests suffer monstrous tortures in concentration camps.
In February, 1940, a priest was shot at Zamosc for burying fallen Polish soldiers, whose bodies had been
exhumed from the neighbouring fields, in the cemetery.
All the ecclesiastic professors of the Catholic University of Lublin, except one, have been arrested.
"The Germans also arrested and deported to Dachau Father Krystyk, of the Oblate Order. After having been
authorized at his own request to read Mass, he was forced by the guards to leave the church with the chalice in his hand,
in sacerdotal robes and holding a revolver in the other hand, in order to be photographed in this get-up."
The Germans deported from Chelm Lubelski, a town of 30,000 inhabitants, all its 27 priests, leaving
the city's churches and hospitals without spiritual care.
According to a report of march, 1941, 200 priests of the Lublin diocese, including many Jesuits and Franciscans,
have been arrested. One has died in prison, and 10 were shot.
The Dioceses of Siedlce and Lomza
Many priests were arrested in the diocese of Siedlce besides its Bishop, Mgr. Sokolowski. The Gestapo terror
is as severe there as in the diocese of Lublin.
In June, 1940, the local priest of the village of Komorowka Podlaska was arrested; he was shot later. At
the village of Drelow Father Wojszczak (spelling should be Wajszczak, according to a correction received from his nephew,
Dr. Waldemar Wajszczuk, 11/2006 with more information available at http://www.drelow.siedlce.opoka.org.pl/wajszczuk/index_e.htm and http://www.wajszczuk.v.pl) was arrested about the same time. The priests have been deported from the County town of Biala Podlaska and the churches
have been closed. The Gestapo arrested Canon Pabisiewicz at the village of Adamow, 3 priests and the organist at Okrzeja,
and the prior of the Dominican Fathers and the organist at Wola Gulowska.
As to the diocese of Lomza, it is mainly under Soviet occupation. In the part occupied by Germany the conditions
are similar to those prevailing in the rest of the "incorporated" territories.
The Dioceses of Czestochowa and Kielce
Some parts of these dioceses belong to the "incorporated" territories but the major part is within the "Government
"The clergy had much to suffer there," states the second report of Cardinal Hlond, "but there are still
some priests here and there."
On September 5, 1939, the German authorities carried out a search in the convent of the Scholastic
Brothers. An old sporting rifle and some boy scout caps were found among the theatrical requisites used by the pupils. Two
monks and the father of one of the members of the congregation were arrested under the false charge of "concealment of arms"
and they were all executed by firing squad in the yard of the 27th infantry regiment. Their bodies were buried in the barrack
The following priests were among those deported to concentration camps from the diocese of Czestochowa:
The Rev. Klarzak, vicar of Kamienica Polska, near Czestochowa; the Rev. Dean August Kantoch, of the parish of Choron, who
was taken in a summer cassock and night slippers; and the Rev. Brykalski, vicar of Kozieglowy. The latter, a man of 99, was
treated as brutally as the other priests, and he was broken down when he returned after 2 months of terrible sufferings. The
vicars of Siewierz and Konopiska belonged to the same group of prisoners.
In one of the towns near Czestochowa the local vicar was tormented merely because he failed to open
the door immediately after the arrival of the Gestapo agents in their car. He was told to kneel on the ground while a revolver
was held to his head. This suspense between life and death lasted 40 minutes and the guards changed places from time to time,
each of them pretending that he was going to be the one to carry out the execution. The priest's hair went white during his
Father Roman Klaczynski of Czestochowa was arrested in the sacristy after preaching a sermon in which he
urged the people to "build Poland in their hearts." He was sent to the concentration camp at Oswiecim. Thirty other priests
were also arrested at Czestochowa. Of these, 3 were shot, including the distinguished astronomer and director of the Observatory,
Canon Bonawentura Meller.
There was one priest among the sixty persons taken from the diocese of Kielce to Katowice and shot there.
According to a report received in March, 1941, Fr. Adam Rozalski, of Kielce, was shot at by a military patrol
in the street for no obvious reason. He took refuge in a house. An agent of the Gestapo followed him and killed him with his
In January, 1941, Dean Kosinski was arrested in Radom.
The Diocese of Cracow
The conditions in the "incorporated" part of the diocese are described in Cardinal Hlond's report in the
"... the clergy is living under the terror of the Gestapo. The Rev. Canon Thomas Czaplicki, Vicar of Trzebinia,
aged 75, was executed in November 1939, together with his curate, Father Felix Piatka."
Amongst others a number of teachers of religion were arrested there and deported to the prison of
Wisnicz. There are in this prison also 26 Jesuits from Cracow.
The conditions prevailing in this gaol are monstrous. On one occasion the priests were ordered to stand
in two rows opposite to each other and to strike each other on the face as hard as they could. On another day one of the Jesuits
was told to trample the cross under his feet, and when he refused to do so he was beaten on the head with the same cross.
In the village of Skomielna the vicar was shot through the head with a revolver, merely because a Polish
major had been quartered in his house for one hour during the September campaign. He was taken to hospital and his life was
saved, but he was eventually taken to the prison of Olomouc (Olmutz), in Moravia, in which he is held to this day.
One priest from the district of Zywiec was shot. He was taken from that district, together with 43 other
persons, to Katowice and they were all executed there.
In that part of the diocese which was "incorporated" to the "Government General," the conditions in
which the clergy is working are also difficult, though not so severe as in the part annexed by the Reich.
A report from March 1941 states that in the Cracow diocese 87 priests have been banished to concentration
camps; of that number, 37 (Jesuits, Missionaries, Carmelites and Albertines) are working in stone quarries at Mauthausen,
near Linz, in Austria.
The Dioceses of Tarnow and Przemysl
A number of priests have been arrested. In many towns, as, for instance, in Rzesow and Tarnobrzeg,
the priests are held in common prisons together with thieves and other criminals, sometimes with prostitutes.
Father Cierniak, of the diocese of Tarnow, was arrested and charged with having made some statement in his
sermon - although it was one which could not be regarded as criminal even from the German point of view.
Over 60 priests were arrested in the diocese of Przemysl.
Priests in War Prison Camps
Among the Polish prisoners of war interned in camps in Germany there are some priests, either military chaplains
or volunteers who joined the army as simple privates.
Their sufferings are terrible. A report about the Polish prisoners of war in one of the camps in Germany
mentions the fact that a barbarously tortured Polish priest was brought there from another camp. It took nearly a month
to heal his wounds in the camp infirmary.
The Nazis have paid an unintentional tribute to the devotion of the Polsih Catholics by arresting priests
in many dioceses because the peasants failed to declare full results of their harvests. The peasants were punished for this
"crime" by being deprived of spiritual ministration. In the districts where peasants produced the grain which the Germans
alleged to be missing, the priests were set free. But before being released, they were forced to sign a statement
that they would remind their parishoners to hand over the quantity of grain demanded by the Germans.
4. The Persecution of the Lay Leaders of Religious Life
According to the reports of Cardinal Hlond, the German authorities extended their cruel persecution
not only to the clergy, but also to laymen playing a prominent part in the Catholic religious, intellectual and social life.
The leaders of the Catholic Action, whether priests or laymen, suffered most heavily.
"The National President of the Catholic Youth Association, Edward Potworowski, of Gola, near
Poznan, Private Chamberlain of Cape and Sword to His Holiness, was publicly shot in the square of Gostyn.
"The President of the Catholic Girls' Association, Miss Maria Suchocka, together with her mother
and brother, who had been deprived of his pharmacy at Pleszew, was robbed even of personal effects and expelled from Poznan
to the 'Government General.'
The Director of the Catholic Action in the diocese of Lodz, Father Nowicki, was so cruelly beaten
that a trepanation had to be carried out to save his life.
"The President of the Catholic Action in the diocese of Wloclawek, Mr. Pulawski, Chamberlain
of the Cape and the Sword to his Holiness, was shot."
5. The Destruction, Profanation, Closing Down or Looting of Churches and Objects of Religious
Already in the course of the hostilities a large number of churches and cemeteries in Poland
were destroyed, looted or profanated.
The churches and their immediate surroundings were favoured targets for the German artillery
and bombers. The heaviest damage was naturally done in Warsaw, which has been continually bombarded for nearly 4 weeks.
The churches of All Saints, in Grzybowski Square, and St. Peter and Paul's, in Koszyki, were
totally destroyed by high explosive and incendiary bombs. The historical Gothic Cathedral of St. John, dating from the 14th
century, was very seriously damaged. The Jesuit church, built in 1606, has had its facade damaged by shells, while the roof
was destroyed by fire. The Gothic Church of the Holy Virgin, in the suburb of Nowe Miasto (15th century), has damaged walls,
while its roof is destroyed. St. Martin's Church, in Piwna Street (A.D. 1356) has damaged arches, and its facade has also
The following churches were also partly destroyed during the bombardment: the fine Church of
the Visiting Sisters, the Ex-Carmelitan Church, St. Florian's, in the suburb of Praga, the Solec Church and the chapel of
the Przezdziecki family. One of the principle temples of the capital, the Church of the Holy Cross, situated in the centre
of the city, was seriously damaged. Shells penetrated the roof and the vaulting, exploding inside the church, with the loss
of many lives. The main altar, the organ and the pulpit were destroyed, as well as 4 other altars and the chapel of the Holy
Virgin of Czestochowa. The urn containing the heart of the great Polish composer Chopin was also broken.
In the Church of the Saviour both the towers and the roof were destroyed by a fire started by
incendiary bombs. The rest of the church was saved by the public, which fought the fire at the risk of life. The roof of the
University Church of St. Ann's was also burnt out, and a chapel built in the 17th century was also destroyed there. The chapel
in the House of Writers of the Societas Jesu, containing the relics of St. Andrew Bobola, specially venerated by the people
of Poland, was also destroyed. The glass case containing the relic was broken.
The Warsaw Ecclesiastic Seminary was destroyed by bombs. Six seminarists and Diacon Konia, who
previously did heroic service by distributing the Holy Communion among the wounded and burying the dead in the grounds of
the emergency hospital in the university, were buried under the debris.
The historical Catholic Cemetery of Powazki, in which some of the greatest Poles were buried,
suffered heavily. The so-called catacombs were completely destroyed by the German shells and bombs. Hundreds of graves were
destroyed by the bombs, which sometimes dug out coffins and threw them away, smashed to pieces. In some cases even the
bodies of the dead were flung out of their graves and suspended on nearby trees.
The cathedral of Lublin, built in 1582, was seriously damaged. Its roof was destroyed by fire,
while the classical portico and the Chapter Hall of the 18th century were also smashed.
The famous Collegiate church of Lowicz was partly destroyed by fire. St. Leonard's, St. John's
and the Ex-Missionaries' church of the 17th century were also destroyed in that town.
The effects of the bombing, however, although it was frequently specially directed against churches
and cemeteries, were insignificant by comparison with the regular profanation, destruction and looting of churches and objects
of religious worship by the German military and civilian authorities.
A start was made by herding together hundreds and even thousands of people in churches in which
they were locked for several days at a time, without food and without any hygienic facilities. This was done deliberately
for the double-purpose of inflicting hardship on the people thus imprisoned and of profanating the churches with filth.
In Czestochowa, immediately after the arrival of the German troops, on September 4, about 700-800
people -men and women, Poles and Jews- were assembled under guard near the cathedral of the Holy Family. They were all ordered
to stand there with their arms lifted up. Anyone who allowed his arms to drop was beaten and kicked by the soldiers. In the
evening the whole crowd was locked in the cathedral and remained there for 2 days and 2 nights. No one was allowed to leave
and neither food nor water were provided for anyone. Many persons collapsed. Thus the Germans acheived their object of profaning
the cathedral. A detailed account of the events in Czestochowa is to be found on another page.
In Bierun, in Upper Silesia, as already stated elsewhere, 300 men and women were locked for 3
days in the local church. Father Kupilas, vicar of Ledziny, was among them. They did not receive any food and had no facilities
for carrying out natural functions of the body.
"In Radom," states another report, "the Germans expressed their anti-religious feelings by locking
up 2,000 Polish prisoners of war, in the beginning of November 1939, in the Church of Our Lady, the largest in the city, and
forbidding them to leave, on any pretext whatever, for 48 hours."
"In Gdynia," stated the second report of Cardinal Hlond, "the churches were at first converted
into prisons. They were profanated by the fact that people locked in them for whole days had no hygienic facilities of any
In another locality the population was locked in the church and a machine gun was placed on the
organ. A monk who did not obey the order to remove the cross from the altar was shot dead in the church, in the presence of
Other acts proved that the Nazi invaders wanted to insult and systematically offend the
most profound feelings of the population. Their hate towards religion was so intense that they did not recoil from the destruction
of the finest monuments of art of the past centuries merely because they were devoted to religious worship.
"The ancient cathedral of Pelplin in Pomerania," states the second report of Cardinal Hlond,
"a real gem of Gothic art, was at first closed then converted into a car garage and it is now proposed to make it into
a market hall. The statue of the Immaculate Virgin, erected in front of the cathedral in 1854, to commemorate the promulgation
of the dogma, has been pulled down.
"At Gdynia the Germans publicly pulled down the great Cross which stood before the Church of
the Holy Virgin, and covered it with filth. The population then went in secret to cover the remains with flowers and
take small pieces as relics, until this act of piety was rendered impossible by the German authorities.
"The great Cross standing on Kamienna Gora, which used to be illuminated at night and venerated
from afar by mariners at sea as a greeting of Catholic Gdynia, was also overthrown."
Another report states that the Germans have completely dismantled the old historic church of
Kolibki, near Gdynia. The German authorities ordered the destruction of all the Polish tombs in the cemetery of
Oksywie, near Gdynia. Amongst others, the fine mausoleum of General Orlicz-Dreszer, one of the builders of the Polish port
of Gdynia and of the Polish mercantile marine, was also destroyed. The cemeteries of both Oksywie and of Kolibki were liquidated,
because they annoyed the Germans by providing evidence of the ancient Polish tradition on the Baltic coast.
"The Chapel of the Ursulines, at Koscierzyna," states one of the annexes to the second report
of Cardinal Hlond, "suffered profanation. The sacred vestments were used for sacrilegious buffooneries. One of the stoles
was put on a dog. A servant-girl succeeded in saving the Holy Sacrament: she opened the tabernacle, put the Blessed Host herself
on a consecrated linen cloth, and carried it, hidden on her breast, to the parish church."
In another annexe to the same report, dated April 5, 1940, we find the following document of
the anti-religious fury of the Nazis:
"The Chapel of the Monastery has been closed and the pews burnt in the stoves. The church has
been closed. The consecrated linen from the chapel and the church, the chandeliers and all the objects used in the church
services have been carried away. On March 14 the new Nazi tenants got up a religious masquerade. They rang the church bells,
which had been silent for months, and when the faithful from the vicinity arrived, they saw a crowd of young people making
merry, wearing chasubles, copes, and priests' skull caps, going round the park in procession, with rosaries and Holy Water
sprinklers in their hands. The people withdrew in indignation. It was the eve of the festival of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows!
"The Brothers are made to serve the new tenants, all fanatical Nazis; for whom they have to cook
and work in the garden and in the electrical power house; they do not receive any pay.
"All the books from the libraries and book-shops were taken in lorries to the paper-mill, while
all the laboratory apparatus, all the linen and clothing belonging to the house or the Brothers, the best furniture, the tables
and the piano were sent to Germany. At the present time the machines are being dismounted in preparation for removal. The
same kind of robbery has been carried out in every parochial presbytery, in every monastery and in private houses."
In Bydgoszcz, members of the German army and of the Gestapo organized throughout September 1939
revolting orgies in the Church of the Missionary Fathers which was afterwards closed and falsely proclaimed to be an unsafe
The old Jesuit church in the same town was pulled down. It was in front of the same church that
the Germans previously massacred 136 youthful Polish schoolboys and boy-scouts. A new town hall is being built on the site
of the demolished church.
The monuments of the Heart of Jesus, in Bydgoszcz, and Pakosc, were profanated and then
"In Samsieczno," states one of the reports, "the church was completely plundered by German soldiery
in September 1939. The Holy Host was trampled, the liturgical wine and candles robbed, the chalices torn to pieces. One half
of a liturgical vestment was hung on the outside door of the church."
In Torun the Germans destroyed the statue of the Holy Virgin as Queen of the Polish Crown, standing
in front of the garrison church.
The excuse of baufalligkeit was used in many cases for the purpose of closing down churches,
especially those which were regarded by the Poles as national sanctuaries.
The ancient cathedrals of Gniezno and Poznan, closely connected with the history of Poland since
its earliest days and full of valuable relics and works of art were also closed as baufallig.
"The Basilica of the Primates of Poland in Gniezno," reads the first report of Cardinal Hlond,
"restored and beautifully decorated in recent years, was declared unfit for use and closed by the police, who took it over
themselves. Concerts from records are given there behind closed doors, for purposes of German propaganda. It appears that
the sanctuary is used as a workshop, without any supervision, and it is to be feared that the venerable Basilica is being
despoiled of its old ornaments and precious decorations."
The keys of the Poznan cathedral are also in the hands of the Gestapo.
"The most beautiful of Poznan churches," goes on the first report of Cardinal Hlond, "the Collegiate
Church of St. Mary Magdalene, a parish of 23,000 souls, has likewise been closed, and it seems that the Germans are carrying
on behind its closed doors some work giving cause for the worst suspicions and fears."
"It is believed," states another report, "that this church is to be converted into a concert
hall. Many other churches were closed in Poznan; the Jesuit church was turned into a depository and St. Michael's, in the
Lazarz quarter, is to become a cinema. The beautiful church of the Bernardine Fathers has been closed."
The second report of Cardinal Hlond states that: "The Nazi police installed a kennel in the chapel
of the Primate's palace in Poznan, while the church of the Sisters of St. Vincent was turned into a gymnasium."
One of the first acts of the German authorities after their occupation of Poznan was the destruction
of the great monument of the Heart of Jesus situated in the centre of the city and particularly dear to the Catholic population
of Poznan. The monument was composed of a stone arch adorned with bas-reliefs and a bronze statue of Christ. The golden heart
was first removed from the statue and then it was felled down. It was attached on long chains to a lorry and dragged
through the streets among the jeers of the German soldiers, to the greatest mortification of the Polish public. The statue
was thus dragged out of town to the municipal rubbish dump and left there. A wooden enclosure was then erected around and
the Nazis covered it with blasphemous and obscene inscriptions which would not bear repeating.
The arch of the monument was blown up with dynamite. During this act of vandalism any man who
removed his hat in passing was arrested, whipped and forced to take part in the work.
A few months afterwards the Germans cut down and threw into the river Warta the historic
cross of the Chwaliszewo bridge, erected by the citizens of Poznan in the 17th century in thanksgiving for the extinction
of an epidemic of cholera.
The old church of the Franciscans in Gniezno was pulled down. The principle parish church - that
of the Holy Trinty - was profanated (according to the Cardinal's first report). The church of Jarocin was turned into a prison.
The church of Dziewierzewo, in the archdiocese of Gniezno, was burnt down.
"The Church of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Ostrzeszow," states the second report
of the Cardinal, "which formerly belonged to the Minor Brothers, was converted into stables. Besides the numerous statues
of the Holy Virgin and of different saints, situated in public squares, the statues of the Sacred Heart in the principal squares
of Kozmin, Krotoszyn and Wolosztyn were demolished. The statue of Cardinal Ledochowski, in Ostrow, met a similar fate.
The same report refers to identical acts of vandalism committed in the diocese of Katowice, in
"The parish church of Laziska" - it reads - "and the Church of the Oblates of the Immaculate
Virgin at Lubliniec were damaged in the course of military operations in September 1939. The latter was then used by the German
authorities for secular purposes and its presbytery was used as a store for wireless sets confiscated from the Polish population.
The statues of Saints in that church had their heads knocked off and in one case a moustrap was placed in the tabernacle.
"The large cross which stood in the main square of Tarnowskie Gory is there no more. At Ruda
the Germans have smashed the statues in the Grotto of the Immaculate Conception.
"At Dziedzice, in Cieszyn Silesia, a chapel was pillaged and the organ, and sacred figures and
images were destroyed. A memorial cross was also destroyed.
"All the crosses were removed from schools and public buildings. In Lubliniec the cook of the
Arbeitsdienst fed his kitchen stove with broken crosses removed from the school-rooms."
The Germans liquidated many hospital chapels in Silesia, notably in Szarlej and Tarnowskie Gory.
Their altars were burned.
The church at Hel, in Pomerania, has been turned into a military building.
"The cathedral of Wloclawek was closed, after a close search carried out by the police, who did
their best to find the treasury and still keep the keys in their hands.
"Immediately after the publication of the Encyclical Summi Pontificatus the police destroyed
a monument of Pius XI placed in the wall of the cathedral. Chapels and crosses in the whole diocese of Wloclawek suffered
In the well-known spa of Ciechocinek, situated on the Vistula, between Wloclawek and Torun, the
Germans destroyed on the night of November 9, 1939, a statue of the Holy Virgin which had been brought from Lourdes.
The church of Grabowiec, in the diocese of Kielce, was profanated by the Germans who turned it
The church of Kamionek, 15 miles from Czestochowa, was profanated in a similar manner.
The garrison church of Pulawy, in the diocese of Lublin, was converted by the Germans into offices.
The church of Zamosc, in the same diocese, was looted.
The newly built church in Tarnow was turned into a hay store.
"The cathedral of Plock," states another report, "which had been damaged during the bombardment,
has been closed. The divine service is celebrated in the Catholic Home, which is about to be taken over by the Germans
as a market hall."
A particularly revolting incident occurred in the diocese of Plock.
"In the church of Skepe," states the second report of Cardinal Hlond, "in which there was a statue
of Our Lady particularly venerated by the population, the German police destroyed the altars and the statues of the saints.
The parishoners were forced to clear the debris. When the people of Skepe, shocked by the sacrilege and the devastation
of the church, went there to remove the broken fragments, the police put on the walls of the town posters stating that the
population had destroyed the altars on its own initiative and that the entry to the church had been forbidden under the most
severe penalties, in order to save the sanctuary from further damage by the public. Thus the church, in which many sought
spiritual comfort, was closed to the faithful. Sacrilege was mixed here with deep perfidy."
Among the churches recently destroyed is the Carmelite Church at Wisnicz in Southern Poland.
This church was built in early Baroque style, and dated from the first half of the 17th century. Not only was it a valuable
memorial of those times by reason of its architecture, but it also contained some fine sculptings and paintings. It was in
a perfect state of preservation and had not suffered at all from war operations. Until recently the buildings surrounding
it were used as a concentration camp, and the German guards frequently desecrated the church, which had been closed, by firing
at the frescoes and images. Now it has been pulled down to its very foundations, on the ground that it is 'a dangerous structure,'
the altars and ornamentation have been smashed, some of the pictures destroyed on the spot, and others carried off.
"At Wisnicz, the Germans," one report states,"organized continual and anti-religious orgies:
they dressed in sacerdotal vestments and danced wild dances, firing at the sacred images. A figure of Christ, which had been
thrown down, was tied to a horse, on which a villager stripped naked was set. Jewish girls were brought, ordered to undress,
and walk along the street."
Similar orgies were organized in the church of Chelm, where German soldiers dressed in sacerdotal vestments
and performed parodies of services.
The Gothic church at Zawichost, dating from the 13th - 14th centuries, which was open for services
until quite recently, has now been turned into a military petrol stores. Under the Polish regime it was kept in a perfect
state of preservation as a valuable historical monument.
The churches at Nasielsk, Mlawa and Pultusk are now used as warehouses.
Many churches were closed in the whole territory under German occupation, but mostly in the "incorporated"
part. In some cases no excuse was given and in some the churches were declared baufallig, or unsanitary. Such excuses
were deprived of the slightest foundation of fact, for the condition of the churches, especially in Western Poland, was extremely
good, thanks to the care of the clergy and the generosity of the population. It is noteworthy that quite new or recently rebuilt
churches - including the Gniezno and Poznan cathedrals referred to above - were among those closed down for that reason.
In some Counties, notably those of Szubin, Wyrzysk, Znin and Wrzesnia, in the diocese of Gniezno,
all the churches were closed for several months. Many of them have not opened since.
After the casual looting during the war operations, the authorities of occupation started a systematic
robbery of artistic objects from churches.
"The Polish opinion was profoundly moved," writes Mgr. Kaczynski in his report, "By the news
of the confiscation of liturgical vessels, pictures, vestments and other objects of great artistic value. Contrary to international
law and especially to the Hague Convention, the German authorities are forcibly confiscating objects of religious worship
for the purpose, it is understood, of selling them abroad and using the funds thus obtained for the further prosecution of
war. Two artistic cups, from the 16th and 17th centuries respectively, were taken from the Warsaw cathedral. One of them was
personally made by the King of Poland, Sigismund III, and presented by him to the cathedral. Among the relics carried off
from the Wawel Cathedral in Cracow, is the spear of St. Maurice, a valuable relic of the 10th century, which was a gift from
Kaiser Otto III to the Polish King Boleslav the Brave. It had been preserved in the Wawel for a thousand years.
"From the Church of Our Lady in Cracow," states Mgr. Kaczynski's report, "the Germans took the
famous gothic altar, carved by Wit Stwosz, and 19 valuable pictures by Hans Suess, of Kulmbach, dating from the beginning
of the 16th century. The German officials came to take the pictures when a forty hours' service was in progress. The vicar,
Father Kulinowski, begged the Germans to wait until the end of the service. His request was not granted and the German soldiers
entered the church with their caps on, put up ladders and removed the pictures with a great deal of noise, to the silent indignation
of the faithful."
A report of March, 1941, states that the Germans have also taken 6 chalices from St. Mary's Church.
The ancient Lombard reliquary of St. Florian, and four pictures by Hans Suess, of Kulmbach, giving
scenes from the life of St. John the Evangelist, were taken from St. Florian's Church in Cracow. The keys of the treasure
rooms of the Wawel Cathedral and St. Mary's Church, in Cracow, are in the hands of the Gestapo, and the rightful guardians
of those treasures have no access to them. Eight valuable pictures were stolen from the church museum in Tarnow, and a silver
gothic monstrance was taken from Wieliczka.
On March 2 and 3, 1940, all the precious church plate, pictures, bronzes, etc., were removed
from the garrison church in Dluga Street, Warsaw.
The same thing happened all over the "Government General."
"In Lublin," states another report. "the Germans forced open the small door of the tabernacle
in the Dominicans' church. Then they forced the reverend father, at the point of their revolvers, to disclose the loation
of valuable liturgical objects, worth about 100,000 American dollars. They also took away priceless old documents, including
a Bulla of Pope Honorius III, dated A.D. 1224. All those valauables were robbed.
An ancient baptistery of great artistic value was taken from the Lublin cathedral.
"The church of Turek, in the district of Kalisz," states another report, "was deprived of its
stained glass, designed by the famous modern Polish artist, Mehoffer."
"Churches are despoiled," states the second report of Cardinal Hlond, "of their consecrated vessels,
of liturgical objects used for purposes of divine worship and of sacred ornaments."
According to a report of March, 1941, the Germans have now established themselves in the famous
Polish monastery at Czestochowa. The Gestapo took over the monastery and made a number of searches for the precious votive
offerings which formerly adorned the walls of the church. The Gestapo men quickly began to terrorise the priests, and people
who went to pray before the famous picture of the Madonna.
According to recent reports, there were among the objects of religious worship recently presented
to Spain by Adolf Hitler many of the pyxes, monstrances, pictures, etc., robbed from the churches of Poland. Such was
the "generous" gesture of the Fuhrer towards the "friendly" Spanish nation...
In January, 1940, at Ignacow, the Germans shot at a picture of the Virgin Mary, making sacrilegious
comments as they did so. The Parish Priest and Sisters of Mercy were present as witnesses.
The Germans barbarously destroyed in the "incorporated" provinces the way-side shrines and crosses
which were so numerous in Poland and were sincerely venerated, especially by the peasants, who adorned them with flowers and
frequently prayed before them. Many of those shrines and crosses were works of art of great age and value. In many localities
the population itself was compelled to destroy them. The refusal to do so meant beating or in some cases even death.
The villagers collected the broken fragments of the shrines and crosses, which they took to their homes, to keep them there
with respect until better times.
Here is the evidence of some reports concerned with this point:
"In the archdioceses of Gniezno and Poznan, hundreds of way-side shrines and crosses," states
the first report of Cardinal Hlond, "have been destroyed and profanated.
"In the archdiocese of Gniezno, from the time of the entrance of the German troops into those
regions, numerous crucifixes, busts and statues of Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin and of the Saints that adorned the streets
and highways, were pulled down and smashed. The artistic statues of the patron Saints, places in the squares of the cities
and even the pictures and sacred monuments on houses and on private grounds met with the same fate. In Bydgoszcz, the monument
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was profanated and destroyed."
The second report of the Cardinal mentions similar incidents in the dioceses of Chelmno, Katowice
and other "incorporated" dioceses.
Here are some excerpts from other reports:
1) "The statues and crosses in the Counties of Konin, Nieszawa, and Mogilno were all destroyed,
profanated and trampled in the mud."
2) "All of the statues of Our Lady and of the Saints in the Provinces of Poznania and Pomeranis
were either pulled down or sawn off in the middle. Even the oldest statues, famed for miracles and possessing immense artistic
value, were not spared. The statues of Our Lady were the object of a particular frenzy of destruction."
3) "In many parts of the districts of Poznan and of Kalisz the Germans forced the population,
at the point of revolvers, to destroy way-side statues."
4) "In the town of Pobiedziska, near Poznan, the local German locksmith, who before the war served
in Rawicz a sentence of 4 years' imprisonment for burglary, was appointed Mayor by the German authorities. When he saw people
taking off their hats in front of the figure of Saint Laurent, he observed aloud: 'This must be finished' ('das muss
ein Ende nehmen'). During the night of October 28, 1939, the Germans, led by a policeman, pulled down the statue of the
Saint. The statues of the Saints in Rogozno and Ryczywol, in the Province of Poznan were also removed."
5) "In the County of Wolsztyn many way-side statues and crosses were destroyed. Everything Polish
and Catholic was doomed to destruction. In the town of Wolsztyn itself three religious statues of great artistic value were
removed. On the previous night someone broke off their arms and legs - it was obviously an attempt to provide an excuse for
the total destruction of the statues."
6) "Religious pictures and crosses are being removed from factories and schools in Upper Silesia."
7) "In August, 1940, the Gestapo removed the crosses and religious figures in the town of Kutno.
In October of the same year there was a congress of Hitlerjugend in Kutno; these German youngsters destroyed all
the roadside crosses and figures left in the locality."
8) "In December, 1940, in the diocese of Siedlce, German armoured forces stationed there tested
the powers of their lorries and tanks by driving them at roadside shrines, reducing the shrines to rubble. In this fashion
many articles of artistic and historical value were destroyed."
"The Germans proceed to deface all Polish inscriptions in churches and cemeteries," states the
second report of Cardinal Hlond, "even including the oldest ones and those engraved in stone."
Here are some typical cases mentioned in other reports:
In Szarlej, in Upper Silesia, there was in the parochial church of the Holy Trinity the following
Polish inscription in the Presbytery: "Glory to the Lord, to the Son and to the Holy Ghost." This inscription was defaced
at the order of the new German Mayor.
In Piekary, also in Silesia, there stood in front of the Church of Our Lady 12 statues of the
Apostles, erected about 1860; the names of the Apostles were carved in stone in Polish. The Germans left the figures, but
they ordered plaster to be put over the Polish inscriptions so that not a trace of them was left. There have been many hundreds
of such cases.
In many regions the population is compelled to remove the Polish inscriptions from the tombs
in the cemeteries, or else the tombstones are simply destroyed.
6. The Polish Population Deprived of Religious Services
The German authorities of occupation are doing their utmost to render the practice of religious
worship impossible for the Polish population, or at least limit reilgious practice to the absolute minimum. The methods used
for acheiving this aim, especially in the "incorporated" territories, frequently surpass those of the bolshevists themselves.
First of all the population of the "incorporated" dioceses was largely deprived of its clergy
as a result of the deportation, imprisonment, or murder of hundreds and even thousands of priests.
The Polish population in the "incorporated" territories has been deprived not only of the services
of most of its clergy, but also of access to the churches. Many churches, as we have already observed, were closed while the
remaining ones are allowed by the German authorities to open only once a week, on Sunday, for 2 or 3 hours. The preaching
of sermons is totally prohibited in many districts, and if it is allowed at all, only the German language must be used. Singing
in the Polish language has also been prohibited.
"In the archdiocese of Gniezno those churches which still have the ministrations of priests are
permitted to be open only on Sunday, and then only from 9 to 11 o'clock in the morning. Sermons are allowed to be preached
only in German, but since these often serve as a pretext for the Germans to carry off the priests to prison, there is scarcely
any preaching. Church hymns in Polish have been forbidden. The devotion of the afflicted people is edifying. As soon as the
churches are open, the people enter in throngs, to have their children baptised, to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion,
so that the priest has scarcely time to finish Holy Mass before the fatal hour of eleven."
"In those few localities in Upper Silesia in which there still are Polish services, the German
police is taking a close interest in those who attend them and writes down their Christian names and surnames on the
doors of the churches. There have even been cases when persons attending Polish services were photographed. The control extends
even to the registration of prayer books brought to the church by the faithful."
"In Bielsko, in Cieszyn Silesia," states one of the reports, "loud prayer or singing in the Polish
language are forbidden. When the public started on one occasion to sing Polish religious songs in church, a band of Nazis
rushed into the church and forcibly threw out the congregation. When one of the women expressed aloud her indignation,
a German clutched her throat and began to strike her head against the wall. She was hardly alive when other people had torn
her out of the hands of the Nazi bully."
"There is not a single priest in Gdynia; a German priest comes once a week from Danzig. All the
churches are closed, with the exception of the one at Grabowek, where the said German priest celebrates in German."
In the "Government General" the situation is better, although there are also cases of closed
churches and of prohibitions of preaching.
The priests cannot carry the Holy Sacrement to Poles dying at night, in view of the curfew for
the Polish population. Permits are never granted in such cases.
This is not all. Not only are the Poles restricted in their access to the churches, or totally
barred from them, but they are also deprived of other religious services, especially in the "incorporated" territories.
Marriages cannot be celebrated. The Administration of the Sacrements to the dying is frequently
rendered impossible. Polish children cannot receive religious education in their own language. In most of the schools the
teaching of religious subjects has been altogether banned.
"A prayer for Hitler has been introduced and made compulsory."
7. The Looting of Church Property
Very soon afer the invasion the Germans robbed nearly all the property of the Church and the
ecclesiastic institutions, as well as the private property of the Catholic clergy in the territories which were subsequently
"incorporated." At the same time the Diocesan Seminaries and other ecclesiastic institutions of learning were simply supressed.
The Catholic Homes, which existed in many parishes, were taken over by the Germans, as well as educational and philanthropic
institutions: schools, hospitals, homes for orphans, for the aged, etc., and Church foundations. The Diocesan Museums and
all the archives, whether of the episcopal Curias or of parishes, were also robbed. They fell into the hands of the Gestapo,
where they are undergoing a close scrutiny for purposes of personal persecution of people suspected by the Germans.
The treatment of the bishops' palaces and the looting of the churches have been described
above. Here is the description of the attitude of the German authorities towards other Church property and ecclesiastic institutions,
taken from the first and second reports of Cardinal Hlond:
Archdiocese of Gniezno. "The archiepiscopal Seminary of philosophy at Gniezno was taken
over by the soldiers. A German general has taken the archiepiscopal palace as his quarters. The houses of the expelled canons,
as well as the homes of the lower clergy of the Basilica, have been occupied by Germans. The Civil Administration took over
the house of Retreat and of Retired Priests, who sought refuge with generous and pious families.
"The possessions of the Church are also in the hands of the Gestapo. The funds of the archdiocesan
Curia have been sequestered. The Braciszewo estate, property of the archiepiscopal seminary, is under forced administration.
The archiepiscopal palace was given over to a German general for his quarters. The Gestapo has taken possession of the Curia,
of the Basilica, of the diocesan archives, of the very old and famous archives and library of the Chapter. The parochial archives
have been carried away. Particularly from the parishes from which the priests have been removed, the German authorities consider
themselves owners of the church, the cemetery, the parish house, and of all property, ecclesiastical and private. Above all,
the administration of the lands that constituted the benefices of the funds of the church were entrusted to men in the
confidence of the German Government, who turn over nothing either to the church or the parish priest. Even in the parishes
still provided with vicars, priests have already been expelled from their houses, and in their places trustworthy followers
of the new lords of Poland have been installed. Funds for the maintenance of the churches have begun to fail, and the
priests are living solely on the charity of the faithful. If this state of affairs continues for any length of time, a complete
spoliation of the Church will be the consequence, and the means of livelihood that long centuries had collected at the price
of great effort and generosity for the purposes of divine worship will be lost."
Archdiocese of Poznan. "The theological Seminary, which numbered 120 students in the
4-year course was closed by the German authorities in October and the buildings were given over to a school for
policemen. The land belonging to the seminary, about 1,700 hectares, has been given to confidence agents to be exploited by
"The economic situation of the Church in the archdiocese of Poznan is similar to that of the
archdiocese of Gniezno. The German authorities consider themselves masters of ecclesiastical properties, plundering them at
their will, paying for nothing.
"H. E. the Bishop, Mgr. Dymek, is living on the charity of others, possessing neither private
funds nor a salary. The people are supporting the priests. The parish clergy have lost the administration of ecclesiatical
benefices and the profits derived from them. Here and there chalices, monstrances and pixes have been carried off; in some
districts all the candle-wax was robbed from the churches. There is reason to fear that the treasures from the cathedral,
archdiocesan archives and library will be lost.
"Among the three ecclesiastical foundations, which were confiscated, special importance is attached
to the 'Fundacja Twardowskich,' erected four years ago to serve as a home for poor ladies of the cultured classes. It was
a purely ecclesiastical foundation governed according to Canon Law. Recently it acquired a beautiful new residence, built
to satisfy its own particular needs. This house was raided and the ladies were driven out without means of support.
"The same lot befell other pious foundations, asylums, orphanages, which were recognised
and treated as ecclesiastical corporations by the Polish Republic."
The Diocese of Chelmno. "Both the Great and the Little Seminary, with the college and
the secondary school, are occupied by the German army. All the teachers have been driven out. The seminary cellars have been
for several weeks the scene of tortures inflicted on both priests and Catholic laymen."
"The Diocese of Katowice. "The diocesan Seminary, which had a new building in Cracow
and whose students attended the lectures of the Theological Faculty, was closed down by the German authorities and had its
premises occupied. It was proposed to assemble the students elsewhere, but this proved impossible and the Seminary has been
"The large diocesan house of spiritual exercises in Kokoszyce, together with the fields and gardens
which belonged to it, was confiscated at the same time as the monasteries and religious institutes."
The Diocese of Lodz. "The Diocesan Curia is no longer functioning. The Seminary
is occupied by soldiers.
"The parochial houses are either occupied by the police or taken over by the German authorities."
The Diocese of Plock. "The Great and the Little Seminary were dispersed and their premises
occupied by the German authorities. The large and valuable archives, as well as the Diocesan Museum, were seized by the
Another report from Plock states that the professors and students at the ecclesiastical seminary
were robbed of everything. They were allowed to take away only what they were wearing. The college library, and the private
libraries belonging to the professors, the crosses taken from the lecture halls and corridors, the religious pictures, and
so on, were all burnt on a pyre. The religious figures were smashed up. Jews were brought specially to be forced to help in
this work of destruction.
The Diocese of Wloclawek. "The residence of the canons, as well as the Great and Little
Seminaries have been occupied by German soldiers.
"The episcopal college and lyceum 'Dlugosz' in Wloclawek were occupied and looted of all their
modern equipment before being taken over by soldiers."
The Diocese of Czestochowa. "The episcopal College of Wielun, as well as its lyceum
and boarding school, were converted into barracks."
The building of the ecclesiastical Seminary in Czestochowa was taken over by the Gestapo for
its own use.
The Diocese of Lublin. "The Seminary was looted and closed down, as well as the
Diocesan college. On November 11, 1939, the Catholic University of Lublin was closed down and all the professors were arrested.
The University institutes, most of the libraries, the private houses of the professors and the quarters of the undergraduates
were also closed. The University buildings were later taken over by the army."
According to a report of March 1941, the Seminary at Kielce has been closed down.
In Cracow the building of the ecclesiastic Seminary was taken over by the Gestapo.
In the "incorporated" territories, as we have already stated, the Germans robbed amongst other
things also all the hospitals and institutions under ecclesiastic control, ejecting the patients and the staff alike. In the
"Government General" such institutions were not formally confiscated, but their functioning has been rendered practically
"The brutality of the German authorities towards the sick and the children," writes Mgr. Kaczynski
in his report, "is demonstrated by the fact that hospitals are frequently requisitioned under the excuse of being wanted by
the army and then remain quite empty. There is in Zakopane a large sanatorium for tuberculous children, built on the initiative
of the Archbishop of Cracow, Prince Sapieha. In January 1939 the children were forcibly ejected and the sanatorium was requisitioned.
It remains completely empty until this day, like many other hospitals from which patients were driven out."
According to other reports, the Germans looted the treasury of the archdioceses of Gniezno and
Poznan, hidden in the monastery of the Capuchins in Lubartow. The same was done to a part of the treasury of the diocese of
Chelmno, concealed near Torun.
The Institute of Ecclesiastic Art in Piekary, in Upper Silesia, was liquidated and taken over
by a Treuhander. Similar institutes in other localities met with the same fate.
The private property of the murdered, imprisoned or deported priests was also completely looted.
8. The Destruction of the Catholic Organizations and the Catholic Press
All the Catholic Organizations in the "incorporated" territories have been dissolved by the German
authorities and their property confiscated. The organizations of Catholic Action which were developing splendidly, and had
numerous branches, were the object of a particularly violent persecution, while their leaders - as was stated above - were
either murdered or deported to the "Government General."
The Catholic Press was completely liquidated both in the "incorporated" territories and in
the "Government General." The Catholic publishing houses in those two parts of occupied Poland were also closed down. Their
property, consisting of buildings, printing and other machinery, bookshops, etc., was also robbed by the Germans.
9. Terror Against Religious Congregations
The religious congregations are the object of a particular German fury of persecution.
The Monastic clergy is persecuted by the Germans even more severely than the other priests.
The religious congregations in the "incorporated" territories, whether for men or women, have
been dissolved by the Germans, with very few exceptions. The Monastic buildings, generally together with the adjoining churches,
were occupied by the German military or civil authorities. The Germans simply confiscated the numerous monasteries, hospitals,
schools and other institutions, many of them large and extremely well equipped, including all their immovable and movable
property. The publishing houses and printing works belonging to religious congregations were also the object of robbery.
The monks and the nuns were either arrested and imprisoned or sent to concentration camps,
or deported to the "Government General." Some of them were murdered. The brutal treatment of members of religious congregations
by the Gestapo has been described on some of the preceeding pages, notably in connection with the attack of the Gestapo on
the Franciscan Monastery in Bydgoszcz and the persecution of the Jesuits in Kalisz. The monasteries and their churches became
the scene of wild looting and of orgies organized by the Gestapo men (e.g., the church of the Missionary Fathers in Bydgoszcz).
Some cities, like Poznan, were declared "free of monasteries" (klosterfrei); only
German monasteries were left there. Actually - as we observed - practically all the Polish religious congregations were dissolved
in the whole "incorporated" territory.
The monasteries in the "Government General" suffered somewhat less, although there were many
cases of violence and robbery, such as the mass arrests of Jesuits in Cracow and Lublin and the Dominicans and Bernardines
in Jaroslaw; or on the other hand the confiscation by the Germans of the large publishing and printing establishment of the
Franciscans in Niepokalanow, near Warsaw.
Here are some facts concerning the situation in the individual dioceses:
The Archdiocese of Gniezno. (First Report of Cardinal Hlond):
"The oppression exerted against the religious congregations has as its purpose and aim their
total destruction. The Conventual Fathers of Gniezno were driven out of their parish and convent, the latter being used as
a place of detention for Jews. A new and beautiful house and the sumptuous church recently erected in Bydgoszcz, were confiscated
from the Lazarist fathers. The police have installed themselves in the house, while in the church, closed for worship, the
German soldiers are carrying on licentious orgies. The Minorites were expelled from their new and large college of Jarocin.
The same fate fell to the lot of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost at Bydgoszcz, to the novitiate of the Congregation
of the Missionaries of the Holy Family at Gorka Klasztorna, of Markowice, and to the Mother House along with the novitiate
of the Society of Christ for Emigrants at Potulice.
"Much more serious were the losses suffered by the religious institutes of women. The Sisters
of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul lost 14 houses, among these, hospitals, orphanages, asylums. The Congregation of the Sacred
Heart witnessed the occupation of its new high school and college and boarding school at Polska Wies. The Sisters of Saint
Elizabeth, (Grey Sisters) were expelled from 19 houses. The Daughters of the Immaculata, whose Mother House is at Pleszew,
were forced to close their house for aspirants to the congregation, their novitiate, and in addition lost 17 other houses.
Two houses were taken from the Congregation of St. Dominic of the Third Order, and likewise from the Daughters of the Mother
The report goes on to describe the visit of the Gestapo in the Monastery of the Franciscan
Sisters in Bydgoszcz, which we have already reported on previously.
Another report states that the Germans arrested the Franciscan Fathers of Gniezno and sent them
to a concentration camp. All their money and postal savings books were confiscated. They were not allowed to take with them
even blankets. The church and the monastery are temporarily used as a hostel for Poles driven out of their homes.
The novitiate of the Salesian Fathers in Gniezno was closed as well as that of Pakosc. The Polish
Sisters were dismissed from the Municipal Hostpital of Bydgoszcz. They were replaced by Hitler-Schwestern from Germany
whose immoral behaviour is shocking both the patients and the public. The Serving Sisters were deprived of their houses in
Gniezno, Inowroclaw, Mogilno and Witkowo.
The novitiate of the Oblate Fathers in Markowice, near Inowroclaw, was particularly persecuted.
The Vicar of Markowice, Father Wybuda, a member of the Congregation, was executed. The Superiors of the novitiate were
imprisoned while the candidates to priesthood and the Brothers had to work hard on the neighbouring German estate even in
the worst weather.
The Archdiocese of Poznan. (First report of Cardinal Hlond.)
"The losses suffered by Religious Institutes are very painful.
"The Dominican Fathers lost their newly-erected house in Poznan.
"Having been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of students attending the University and the
Commercial Academy, they had planned it as a University House. The Minorites lost their college at Kobylin and the house
of theological studies at Wronki. The Conventuals of Poznan were expelled and their place taken over by German Fathers. The
Jesuits of Poznan are in prison and their church has been closed by the police. The house of theological studies of the Oblates
of Mary Immaculate and that of the Missionaries of the Holy Family at Bablin were closed. The Salesians lost their high
school, college and boarding school at Ostrzeszow, and the house of philisophical studies at Marszalki. The Fathers of the
Divine Word were robbed of their novitiate at Chludowo; the seminary at Ninino was taken from the Society of Lyons for the
African Missions. The Society of Christ for Emigrants was robbed of their quite new theological house at Poznan.
"The Mother-House of the Ursulines of the Sacred Heart lost their Mother-House at Puszczykowo.
"The Ursulines of the Roman Union were robbed of a new high school, college and boarding school
"The Mother-House of the Ursulines of the lately deceased Mother Ledochowska at Pniewy, is in
the hands of a female confidential police agent, who makes the Sisters work like servants. The Vincentian Sisters were removed
from their large hospital of the Transfiguration at Poznan, lost 4 other important hospitals and about 20 of their prosperous
centres of activity. The Sisters of St. Elizabeth, 'Grey Sisters,' have lost about 20 houses, some of them very important.
The Sisters of Immaculata have suffered similar losses, including their Mother-House at Pleszew. The Sisters of the Holy
Family of Nazareth were forced to abandon their fluorishing high school and college at Ostrzeszow; the Sisters of the Resurrection
have been forced to close a renowned school for domestics at Poznan.
"Other religious institutes, both those for men and those for women, are meeting with the same
fate, or at least are expecting it from day to day, while hundreds of reilgious monks and nuns are already dispersed and are
either living with their own families or withdrawing to 'Government General,' where they are crowding the few Convents which
they have there, without work and means of sustenance."
In the second report of Cardinal Hlond, we find the following additional data:
"The Phillipines of the Holy Mount in Gostyn were deported and their big monastery with
boarding school for boys was sequestrated, together with the property of the Order extending over 1,000 hectares.
"The Church of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Ostrzeszow, which formerly belonged
to the Minorites, was then converted into a stable."
Other reports state that the Sisters of Charity were driven out of the Municipal Hospital in
Poznan. All the Jesuits in Poznan, with the exception of one who was of German origin, were arrested.
"The Franciscan Fathers from the Monastery of Kobylin were taken at five in the morning to Krotoszyn
where they had to load the luggage of Poles with whom they were eventually deported to the 'Government General.' The Monastery
of the Franciscan Fathers in Jarocin was used as a prison camp."
"The seminaries of the Oblate Fathers in Krobia and Obra were liquidated. The Superiors of those
institutions were deported. The Oblate Fathers of Poznan were deported to the "Government General."
The serving Sisters were expelled from Pleszew. Their houses in Szamotuly and Zerniki were taken
away from them.
The Diocese of Chelmno. (Second report of Cardinal Hlond.)
"Religious institutions have been ruthlessly suppressed. The Jesuit Fathers have been driven
from their college and secondary school at Gdynia, now baptised 'Gotenhafen' by Hitler; and those of Grudziadz have all been
imprisoned. The Redemptorist Fathers of Torun have been expelled, after having had to endure the most painful indignities
in prison; their magnificent monastery, built quite recently, together with their college, secondary school and boarding house,
have been turned into barracks for German airmen. The Salesians have been driven from Rumia. In Chelmno the church of the
Pallotins has been turned into a gaming hall.
"The losses suffered by the Religious Congregations have been particularly painful in this diocese.
The Ursuline Sisters of Gdynia have been driven out and despoiled of their boarding-school, lyceum and boarding-house. Their
Superior, good and worthy as she was, was treated with brutality despite the fact that she was seriously ill. The Ursulines
have also been brutally driven from their fluorishing school at Koscierzyna.
"The Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul have been driven from their provincial house at Chelmno where
they had been established for 3 centuries. Twenty of them were killed when the place was bombed by the German air-force in
September 1939. In Gdynia the members of the same Order have been dispossessed of their large and modern hspital, completed
only a few years ago. They were expelled at night, without having time to take with them their personal clothes. A shop has
been set up in their Chapel. The Sisters of the Order in question have likewise had to abandon some 20 charitable activities
to which they were devoting themselves with admirable zeal. They are now scattered either in the 'Government General' or among
their own families.
"The Sisters of the Resurrection of Our Lord have been driven from their school for apprentices
at Brusy, from three houses in Grudziadz, and from a greatly appreciated school consisting of a lyceum and boarding house
which they conducted at Wejherowo.
"The other religious Orders were not spared. For example, the Franciscan nuns and the Servants
of Mary were expelled from Oksywie, together with their orphans with whom they had to seek refuge beyond Warsaw, amongst the
Another report states:
"The Serving Sisters together with seventy small children for which they were caring in their
institution were taken from Oksywie to a small village near Mordy, between Warsaw and Siedlce. There they were billeted in
a school building which had lost its windows as a result of war action. They had neither fuel nor food, while the local population
is also destitute. The children are ill and suffer from frost-bitten hands."
"The monastery of the Redemptorists in Torun," states another report, "was converted into barracks
for a flying school."
The following is an extract from a letter about one of the monasteries, dated April 5, 1940,
which was annexed to the second report of Cardinal Hlond:
"We have also had losses. Father... was executed by the Germans
near Warsaw. A bomb tore Brother ... to pieces. Three of the Brothers lost their lives in Warsaw under the ruins of a bombed
house. Brother... died in an epidemic. Brother ... was killed in a road accident during the campaign. A German shell blew
away the leg of Brother... Many others were wounded. A considerable number were arrested. Some of them are still in prisons
or concentration camps. Father... and Brother... are under the Bolshevists, others in Lithuania and even in Latvia. Many others
This letter gives a typical picture of the fate of monasteries in the "incorporated" territories
and to some extent of those of the "Government General."
The Diocese of Katowice. (Second report of Cardinal Hlond.)
"The reilgious orders have been suppressed; the Conventional Monks have been removed from Klimszowiec
and their church made into a gymnasium. The Jesuits were driven from their important monastery at Dziedzice and from the parishes
of Cieszyn and Ruda. The Salesians have had to leave Maslowice. The Fathers of the Divine Word have lost their great institute
at Rybnik. The Salvatorians have had their large and recently built house at Mikolow taken from them. The Brothers of St.
John of God were brutally driven from their great and popular hospitals at Cieszyn and Bogucice; the latter, which is very
large and modern, is used at present for German soldiers who have turned the chapel into a refectory.
"The Ursulines have had to close their institutions with its school, lyceum and boarding house
at Rybnik; it was first occupied by the Schutzpolisei, and afterwards sequestrated. The Sisters of St. Vincent and
those of St. Elizabeth have been sent away from their hospitals, orphanages and other charitable institutions. The same fate
befell the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, whose Mother-House at Rybnik was confiscated. In their place were installed the
'Sisters of Hitler' (Hitlerschwestern), who are evidently not respected by the population because of their immoral
conduct and their unconcealed hatred of Christianity. In the hospitals to which they come they always find some means or another
of destroying the chapels.
"It is to be feared that little by little all the centres of religious life and and all religious
activity in the diocese will come to an end. Then there will be no Catholic education whatever in the diocese."
Extracts from other reports:
1) "All the Jesuits have been deported from Cieszyn. The Church of the Brothers of Mercy, as
well as their hospital, were closed; and the monks were dispersed. The Elizabethan Sisters were expelled from their hospital
and from the charitable institutions of Ustron and Skoczow."
2) "The Bonifratres were driven out of the hospital in Katowice. The Sisters of Mercy were expelled
from the hospitals in Katowice - Bogucice, Panewnik, Rybnik, from 2 hospitals in Szarlej, from Tarnowskie Gory and
from many other localities. The Nazi Braune Schwestern smahed the crosses from the monasteries, hospitals
and schools, using them for firewood."
"The Braune Schwestern burn candles every day in front of huge photographs of Hitler
and carry out a kind of liturgical ceremonial."
"The Germans interned in the former House of the Salesians about 4,000 men of the educated class
and 1,000 priests."
3) "The monastery of the Oblate Fathers in Lubliniec was the object of a particularly ferocious
hate on the part the Germans. During the hostilities it was purposely heavily shelled and the school building, as well as
the church were seriously damaged. After the invasion the Germans immediately occupied the main part of the building. The
Gestapo carried out a series of searches. The church of the monastery was profanated by the soldiers almost every day."
Diocese of Lodz. (The second report of Cardinal Hlond.)
"The monasteries of the religious Orders and their works have been supressed. The Jesuits have
been moved from Leczyca. The new, scarcely finished hospital of the Brothers of St. John of God at Lodz has been sequestrated.
The Lazarists have been driven from Pabianice; the Salesians have been sent away from their orphanage at Lutomiersk with all
their poor and abandoned chidren. The religious institutes for women have also had to suffer grave losses."
The Diocese of Plock. (The second report of Cardinal Hlond.)
"The Passionists of Przasnysz have suffered, but still more the Salesians, who were simply driven
from their novitiate at Czerwinsk and from their school of arts and crafts at Raciazek."
The Diocese of Wloclawek. (The second report of Cardinal Hlond.)
"The Jesuit church and novitiate at Kalisz were made into a temporary prison for persons exiled
to the 'Government General.' The Salesians had to move from their fine college, lyceum and boarding-house at Aleksandrow;
and a school for policemen has been established in it; while their college at Lad serves as a place of detention for interned
priests. The large modern school, lyceum and boarding-house belonging to the Ursulines of Wloclawek were turned into barracks;
and the Sisters of St. Vincent were driven from their hospital at Wloclawek and from all their other works."
Another report states that:
"Four fathers and 3 brothers from the Franciscan monastery of Chocz were taken to Kalisz
and held under arrest for 28 hours without any food. Their monastic habits were torn off and they were forced to clean latrines
with their bare hands."
The Diocese of Czestochowa. "The monks were driven out of the monasteries of Wielun.
The Germans put on their habits and publicly danced in them with prostitutes."
The Diocese of Cracow. (Second report of Cardinal Hlond.)
"The members of the Congregations suffered very severely. The Barefooted Carmelites of Wadowice
were expropriated of their college with boarding-school. The large Institute of the Salesians of Oswiecim was occupied by
soldiers, who are still quartered there. Many religious congregations had to close down or curtail their teaching and charitable
Another report states that 26 Jesuits from the Convent of Copernicus Street in Cracow were arrested
in November 1939 and held in prison for several months. It is still unknown whether they have been released or not.
Several missionaries and Jesuits were tortured to death in concentration camps. Father Morawski,
S. J., a well-known religious writer, died in the camp of Oswiecim.
The Diocese of Przemysl. All the Dominicans and Bernardines of Jaroslaw were arrested.
They were dragged out of their beds at night and were not allowed to take anything with them. They suffered extreme brutality.
In Rzeszow the Gestapo carried out mass executions of Poles in the garden of the Bernardines.
The victims had to dig their own graves before the execution.
The Diocese of Warsaw. In Niepokalanow near Warsaw there was a well-known monastery
of the Franciscans, who had a large publishing establishment, with modern printing presses, which turned out amongst others
the Maly Dziennik, a popular daily with one of the largest circulations in the country.
The buildings of the monastery, notably the chapel, were damaged already during the hostilities.
Immediately after their arrival, the Germans deported all the Franciscans to the concentration
camp of Hannadorff and then to hard labour. The German authorities robbed the monastery of all its stores; of food, oil, coal,
clothes and even movable property, with the exception of the printing presses, which are now used for the production of Nazi
leaflets. The Germans also carried out a series of extremely careful searches throughout the buildings and took away all the
books, papers and documents. In the block-making shop the Germans found the blocks of cartoons of Hitler which had appeared
in the Maly Dziennik before the war. A close investigation was carried out in order to discover their author, and
even the population of the neighbouring villages was questioned.
"The new Institute of the Salesians near Kutno," writes Cardinal Hlond in his second report,
"was one of the most heavily damaged by the German night bombers. It is occupied at present by German soldiers."
The Diocese of Lublin. Fifty-two Jesuits and 14 Capuchins were arrested in Lublin,
together with many lay priests. The Dominican church was looted.
The monastery of the Capuchin Fathers and the Jesuit College "Bobolanum" were also looted, including
the theological library of some scores of thousands of volumes, the largest of its kind in Poland.
In Chelm all the Reformates, as well as the lay priests, were arrested.