Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ADSS 3.2.497 Casimir Papee to Maglione: Polish priests in KL Dachau

Looking at the documents from ADSS concerning Poland it is very clear that the predominant issue was the survival of the Catholic Church.  German attacks on the church was levelled primarily at the bishops, the higher clergy and the religious orders.  The bishops were the visible leaders of the church, the higher clergy often the best educated and in positions of considerable influence, and the religious orders provided a nation-wide system of education institutes, health and welfare programs, and direct work with the poor.  The German program, such as it was, was pragmatic: cut off the head and the body will die.  By the middle of 1942 twenty-two Polish bishops were no longer active either through death, imprisonment, internal exile, deportation of exile outside of Poland.  This will be presented in the next post.

In this document the Polish Ambassador to the Holy See, Casimir Papee wrote to Cardinal Maglione passing on information about Bishop Michael Kozal, the auxiliary bishop of Wloclawek.  Kozal had been arrested by the Gestapo and was eventually sent to KL Dachau were he died in January 1943.  Papee sent a copy of 20 April 1943 edition of the Swiss Jesuit newspaper Apologetische Blätter where an article about priests incarcerated in Dachau had been published.  Bishop Kozal's name was mentioned.  Papee asked Maglione what response the Holy See would make.  Of course, by the time Papee received the article and passed it on, Kozal had been dead for over three months.

ADSS 3.2.497 Casimir Papee to Cardinal Maglione

Reference: AES 2726/43

Location and date: Vatican, 28.04.1943

Summary statement: Extract from the Zurich Apologetische Blätter which describes the martyrdom of many priests interned in KL Dachau.

Language: French


Your Eminence is aware of the sentiments aroused in all civilised nations because of the cruelties committed by the German in the occupied countries; my colleagues and I have not failed to bring these painful facts to Your Eminence’s attention.

In my letter dated 12.11.1942, number 122/SA/264 on the whereabouts of His Excellency, Monsignor Kozal, auxiliary bishop of Wloclawek, I spoke of the anxiety experienced by all Poles for the fate of the bishop, held by the Germans in the concentration camp at Dachau.  At the same time I expressed the hope that I would be informed of the steps taken by the Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin would surely have made for his release. 

I have no news since then on the fate of Bishop Kozal.

The Zurich Apologetische Blätter of 20 April 1943 has just published striking details relating to the martyrdom of many Polish and other priests, including Monsignor Kozal in Dachau concentration camp.  Permit me to make this text available to Your Eminence (number 122/SA/72, 26.04.1943). (1) 

I realise the impression these acts of refined and unforgivable cruelty are sure to have on the Christian world, but I have the honour to address Your Eminence once again, asking again what results the Holy See has obtained to save these precious lives of the Church, and what steps the Holy See proposes to take in the presence of so much evil if these efforts are without plausible results.

(1) Michael Kozal (1893-1943), auxiliary bishop of Wloclawek 1939-1943.  Arrested in 1940 and placed under house arrest, he was later sent to a forced labour camp at Inowroclaw between January and April 1941 after which he was sent to Dachau.  He was murdered by lethal injection after contracting typhus in late 1942.  He was beatified as a martyr on 14.06.1987.

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