Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Nazi War Against The Catholic Church. Persecution In Europe Part 3.

German cavalry and motorized units entering Poland from East Prussia during 1939.
"The terrorism to which the clergy and the 500 civilians interned in the concentration camp at Opava (Troppau) in the Sudetens were exposed during September and October, 1939, was particularly frightful. On their arrival they were received with a hail of blows from sticks . . . Their bedding consisted of rotten and verminous straw. The Germans forced the priests to take off their cassocks, and their breviaries and rosaries were taken from them. They were set to the most degrading labours. For any infraction of the regulations, even involuntary, the prisoners were beaten; sometimes, merely in order to terrorize them or perhaps from caprice, they were beaten until the blood ran* Many died.

.. The German police are beginning to take much interest in those who attend the Polish services, and to register their Christian and surnames on the church doors. There have been cases where those attending Polish services have even been photographed. And even prayer-books brought to church by the faithful are examined and listed.

. . The German authorities refuse to allow Polish children to be prepared for confession and first communion in their native language. As the children, boys and girls, very seldom understand a little German, they are forced to wait before being able to receive the Sacrament.

. . . The pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of Pickary have been forbidden; all manifestations of the faith outside the churches have become impossible; and even inside, every act and every word of the priest's is controlled."

Diocese of Lodz —Incorporated in the Reich, with exception of some parishes which are situated in the Government General.

.. 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 frightful hail of blows with sticks, which did not spare even U.K. Mgr. Tomczak himself. The majority were then left without food for three 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 an image of the Virgin on the wall for you to pray to 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.'

"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 likewise deprived of its clergy."

Diocese of Wloclawek — Incorporated in the Reich.

. . At Wloclawek, for three months, the people were forbidden to attend any church but that of the Minorities; but there have now for a few weeks been Sunday services in one of the Parish churches. In the deaneries of Lipno and Nieszawa there are no priests any more; in the others there are ever fewer.

"Services, where they are permitted, take place only on Sundays. Marriages and all offerings for the needs of public worship are forbidden. The Catholic Action has been suppressed, and its diocesan president, M. Pulawski, Chamberlain of Cape and Sword to His Holiness, was shot. The popular diocesan weeklies and the outstanding monthly, Athenaeum, edited specially for the clergy, and widely read throughout Poland, have all been suppressed.

"The crosses and chapels have been destroyed, and the patrimony of the Church confiscated; the parochial houses and the lands of the beneficiaries have been confiscated, and the revenues of the clergy stolen. After the publication of the encyclical Summi Pontificates, the police destroyed a monument to Pope Pius XI put up on the walls of the Cathedral.

"The college and the Dlugosz episcopal lyc6e at Wloclawek have been occupied and stripped of all their modern equipment, and are at present used by the soldiers. 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 properties and the school buildings 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."

Supplement to report of Jan. 9th
last on the religious situation in
the Archdiocese of Gniezno and Poznan.

Archdiocese of Poznan

.. In general, the situation in the archdiocese of Poznan may be stated as follows:

5 priests shot.

27 priests confined in harsh concentration camps at Stuthof and elsewhere in the Altreich.

190 priests in prison or in the concentration camps at Bruczkow, Chludowo, Goruszki, Kazmierz Biskupi, Lad, Lubin, and Puszczykowo.

35 priests expelled into the territory called Government General.

11 priests died in prison and their bodies burned in crematoria.

11 priests seriously ill in consequence of ill-treatment.

122 parishes entirely without priests.

Documents: Report of Feb. 19, 1940.

". . . The Chapel of the Ursulines at Koscierzyna has been profaned. The sacred vestments were used for sacrilegious buffooneries. One of the stoles was put on a dog.

Documents: Report of Feb. 27, 1940.

"... A few days ago I was at Katowice, when there were renewed mass executions of Poles on the space 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, blood-stained 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 dispatched by blows with gun-butts.

Documents: Report of April 5, 1940.

"... In the monastery at ...................... a few serving brothers were all who were left. The last monk had been deported in November to a concentration camp near Danzig. The aspect of .................. is completely changed. The crosses and commemorative monuments have disappeared from the streets and the park. A beautiful statue of the Holy Virgin, at the feet of which numerous religious manifestations used to take place, has disappeared. The chapel of the religious community 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 14th the new Hitlerian 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' berets, 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!

Documents: Report of April 7, 1940.

"Those who have been worst treated are Canon Szreybrowski, Curate Janicki of Sroda, Father Haase, rural dean to Kicin, and Canon Swinarski of Czarnkow. The priests* families were told they must pay three marks to have their ashes."


". . . Hitlerism aims at the systematic and total destruction of the Catholic Church in the rich and fertile territories of Poland which have been incorporated in the Reich.

"... 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.

"... 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 the Hitlerian authorities.

. . It is known for certain that thirty-five 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 twenty 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 paralyzed 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 possibility 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 be open only 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 destroyed.

"Monasteries and convents have been methodically suppressed, as well as their flourishing works of education, publicity, social welfare, charity, and care of the sick. Their houses and their institutes have been occupied by the army or the Nazi party. Many monks have been imprisoned ; a great number of nuns have been dispersed.

. . 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 furnishings, the presbyteries with their furniture, and the personal property of the priests, the archives, and the diocesan or religious museums—all have been pillaged by the invaders."