On August 14th, we commemorate the memory of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a significant figure within the Conventual Franciscans, and also mark the 82nd anniversary of the founder of Radio Niepokalanów’s death. Join us in delving into the account of his final moments and passing. Let’s journey through key dates:
February 17, 1941 – Fr. Maximilian arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Pawiak, Warsaw.
May 28, 1941 – Fr. Maximilian transported to the German concentration camp, Auschwitz (KL Auschwitz), receiving prisoner number 16670.
July 29, 1941 – During a selection for starvation death, Fr. Maximilian offers to take the place of another prisoner, Gajowniczek, resulting in his internment in the starvation bunker of Block 13.
August 14, 1941 – Fr. Maximilian is killed by a lethal injection of poison (phenol).
August 15, 1941 – Fr. Maximilian’s body is cremated in Auschwitz’s crematorium.
In his final moments, Father Maximilian Kolbe’s selfless act unfolds. A prisoner escapes from Block 14, triggering a grim punishment – 10 prisoners from the block would face death by starvation in an underground bunker. As fear spreads, a surprising order to disperse is given, leaving Block 14 without dinner, inducing anxiety among its inhabitants.
The next day, work details leave for labor, but Block 14 remains. Prisoners stand, battered by the sun’s scorching heat, deprived of water, collapsing from exhaustion. Around 3 PM, a short lunch break offers momentary respite, followed by further standing until evening roll call.
The next evening, the camp’s commander announces a chilling verdict – 10 prisoners will die for the escapee. Father Kolbe, moved by compassion, volunteers to take another’s place, effectively sacrificing his life.
His request granted, Father Kolbe faces a prolonged ordeal. He maintains his serene demeanor, earning admiration from fellow inmates and even German overseers. Eventually, Father Kolbe is transferred to Block 13, where his ultimate fate is sealed.
On August 14th, after nearly three weeks, Father Kolbe’s death is confirmed. His remains are removed from the prison morgue and cremated on the eve of the Feast of the Assumption. Amidst darkness and suffering, his light shines on.
In the final moments of his life, Father Kolbe’s heroic sacrifice leaves an indelible mark. His selflessness and unwavering spirit inspire all who learn of his deeds, underscoring the resilience of the human spirit in the darkest of times.