Photo: Auschwitz 1, the former Polish army barracks which the SS commandeered as a prison for Polish army officers, Poles, Jews, subversives, and others. This is a substantial complex of brick multi-story blocks, unlike Auschwitz 2, which was mostly wooden blocks. I found the place sombre and still, a place of confronting horror. This is the place where the Catholic priest and subversive Maximilian Kolbe exchanged places with a young Jewish man because he was a husband and father and had a future to live. The commandant agreed to the exchange. Kolbe was starved to death, although he was given a mercy injection after three weeks.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Elie Wiesel
Life Became Him
Quietly he ventured an offer to
the commandant lusting for reprisal,
one young father not ready for some version of heaven,
and persuaded, the commandant exchanges the two,
the priest is starved in the doorway of eternity.
©Paul Vincent Cannon