Twenty percent of diocesan priests were murdered during the Second World War, that is, every fifth diocesan priest died in Poland, which was occupied by German Nazis – recalled the spokesman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Rev. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik on the day of the martyrdom of the Polish clergy. On the initiative of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, this day is celebrated on April 29, the anniversary of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, where many Polish priests were killed.
The spokesman for the Polish episcopacy points out that during the Second World War, the Nazis murdered around 2,000 Polish diocesan priests, 370 monks, and about 280 nuns. In addition, about four thousand priests and monks and about 1.1 thousand nuns were imprisoned in German extermination camps.
“There were dioceses like Włocławek, Gniezno or Chełmno, where almost every second priest was murdered. Four Polish bishops were also killed in the camps, and nearly half of the Roman Catholic dioceses were robbed of the bishops who led them. It can, therefore, be said that it was not just a war with the Polish state, with the Polish nation, but with the Catholic Church,”- said Rev. Rytel-Andrianik.
The spokesman also recalled that despite the terror, priests risked their lives to help all those in need, including the Jewish population. “About a thousand priests in Poland saved Jews by risking their lives. Some of them were murdered for this help,” added Rev. Rytel-Andrianik.
“The Second World War showed how the negation of God as the sole master of human life and the negation of the dignity of every human being brings tragic consequences. Where there is no respect for human life, totalitarianisms emerge that take the place of God and lead to such catastrophes as the Second World War,” said the spokesman of the Polish Episcopate.