Research Reveals Heroic Actions of Bishops in Poland

Prelates Worked in Secret to Help Jewish People During Holocaust

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Almost all Catholic diocesan bishops/administrators in Poland risked their lives helping Jewish People at the time of the Holocaust, according to the newest research.

In 1939 in Poland, there were twenty one Roman Catholic dioceses. Eight remained without diocesan bishops, who were murdered or exiled. Eleven out of thirteen diocesan bishops/administrators in Poland who remained in their dioceses were helping Jewish People. The activity of the other two bishops is being researched.

In addition, one diocesan bishop, who emigrated to England condemned the Nazi crimes against Jewish people in his speech on the London radio: “The murders committed openly on Jews in Poland amidst the blustering and jibes of the executioners and their vassals must evoke horror and disgust in the entire civilized world. (…) As a Polish bishop I condemn with all certainty the crime committed in Poland on the Jewish population” (Bishop Karol Radoński, December 14, 1942).

Archbishop Adam Sapieha from Krakow, like many other bishops, allowed to issue forged Catholic birth certificates, which permitted many Jewish people to get fictitious IDs and save their lives. Bishop Teodor Kubina helped to save the granddaughter of his friend – Rabbi Asz in one of the convent kindergartens in Czestochowa. Bishop Franciszek Barda converted the Curia building in Przemyśl into apartments for the Jewish familes.

Helping the Jewish people in Poland was under death punishment. Therefore bishops did this very secretly. This is one of the reasons why still it is an unknown subject in the Holocaust studies. However, the resent research brings to light many heroic actions of Catholic bishops in Poland and across the whole of Europe.

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The academic version of this article with footnotes and pictures can be found here.

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Paweł Rytel-Andrianik

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