The Man Who Died For Another: The Story of Maximilian Kolbe

7 07 2013

Maximillian Kolbe

The death camp of Auschwitz was a killing centre during WWII where a large number Jews were murdered by the Nazis. It was surrounded by electrified barbed-wire fences and any prisoner caught attempting to escape was executed. For and any successful escape, the entire camp suffered a cruel reprisal: the Commandant selected at random any 10 men among the prisoner to be killed by starvation. Thus the prisoners dreaded the escape of any of their own. One day, on August 14, a prisoner escaped. Fear descended on the camp as the Nazis lined men up for the reprisal. The Commandant, walking between the rows pointed out at random the men who would die. Most were too shocked to cry as the guards sized them. One of the 10 selected to die, however began to cry: My wife! My children! I will never see them again!

Suddenly, hush and gasps of horror swept through the lines as a prisoner broke rank, stepped silently forward and stood before the commandant.

Astounded, the icy-faced Nazi commandant barked, ‘What does this pig want?’

The prisoner whose name was Maximalian Kolbe, took off his cap, pointing with his hand to the condemned man who was crying, said, ‘This man has a wife and children. Let me take his place. I have neither wife nor children for I am a priest.’

Amazed, the commandant ordered the rushing guards back, paused briefly and acceded to the odd request. The condemned man was returned to the ranks, and the Kolbe took his place.

Kolbe and the other victims were promptly locked up in a cell and left to starve to death. Hunger and thirst gnawed at the men. Some licked moisture on the dank walls of the cell, other howled in despair. Kolbe prayed, moved around, encouraging each man to think of the passion of Jesus Christ on the Cross and the heaven awaiting them. After two weeks, all were dead except Kolbe who seemed desire to be the last to go, to ensure, as it were, that he helped all to die in God’s grace. The authorities needing the cell for new victims sent a guard to inject him with carbolic acid to kill him. Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips, himself gave his arm to the executioner died leaning in a sitting position against the back wall with his eyes open and his head drooping sideways, face calm and radiant. He had done his duty. The man whom Kolbe swapped place with survived, was rescued by the victorious Allied forces. He made his way back to his hometown, with the dream of seeing his family again. He found his wife but his two sons had been killed during the war.

Every year on August 14 he went back to Auschwitz. He spent the next five decades paying homage and honoring the man who died on his behalf with millions of people all over the world


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2 responses

7 07 2013
brenda rodriguez

Hi ;).

7 07 2013
Editor

Hi Brenda

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