Borzęcin, November 2005

Dear young people from my beloved homeland Poland, Germany and around the world!

Blessed are the peacemakers

The 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, started by Hitler, the leader of the German Third Reich is also the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps. Every anniversary is unique. Whoever looks at the indescribable suffering, the sea of shed blood and tears, who hears the echo of the destroyed cities and burnt down villages knows that the world still needs a long time to heal from the wounds inflicted on humankind during the greatest genocide of the war.

The mourning of the loss of ca. 54 million people, soldiers, civilians, women and innocent children of 16 countries of the world will long remain in the memory, including those of future generations. Man who did this to man. Some fell in the demonic war on the frontlines, some were murdered in concentration camps, built by the Nazis – in factories of death spread all over Europe, others were killed during bombings and others with ammunition shot on site.

Many survived, but remained forever scarred in body and often in soul.

There have been many tons of paper written on and there  has been much said about the indescribable extent of the genocidal crime carried out on many nations of the world during the Second World War. It is good that the memory remains.

I would like to add my humble voice to the great cry of the world, “Never again war!”

As many others, I have the divine right to say so as the war stole the most beautiful years of my life and left its painful stigma in my soul.

In my 21st year, the gates to the hell on earth of the concentration camp Auschwitz closed behind me, simply because I was a son of the Polish land and so I lost the right to life.

Oswiecim – a reality which supersedes human limitations and which cannot be put into words, which can be recreated by no one – but do listen, my young friends, to the modest statements of the few of us that are still alive, whom a good God has granted life in order that we be a witness to the truth.

The reality of the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau that defied the sign over the entrance gates “Arbeit macht frei” was planned to “eliminate” millions of men, women and children, it was dehumanization in the form of inhumane torture.

The gas chambers and crematorium “worked” non-stop, smoking day and night for Hitler’s cause.

The choking stink of burnt corpses and rotting bodies – some while still alive.

KZ, KZ – a place of torture. Bunkers of death by starvation.

Thousands of convicted – shadows of men, not people, without first name, without surname, thousands of numbers in striped uniforms.

Bands of enraged perpetrators brought violence and degradation of man. For the stronger ones, it was the torturous prisons, the destructive work in inhumane conditions; for the weaker, it was straight to the gas chambers. Bitter cold, hunger, fear and hate.

The place of rest was eaten up by the bugs which were everywhere.

The image of MAN was profaned – Man – God’s  creation.

Dear young friends

I am glad to hear that you are coming together in the Name of God to work to prevent evil in the world. Your desire is to rub away the sins of those, who in 1939 enticed the world and started the Second World War in order to rule the world.

It is only God who can forgive sins and we can forgive in His Name.

Beloved – In your wise reflections and statements, you are asking us –  the dispossessed from Oswiecim a wide range of questions and requests for advice for your life’s journey and the future of the world.

Try kneeling in the spirit on the largest grave of human suffering – on the largest cemetery of the world- the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and all camps in Europe and listen carefully for the loud cry of the silence of death, slaughter and the Golgotha of human suffering.

You will hear and understand then the great truth, that God, in allowing the gehenna of the Second World war, respected the free will once given to man, while making man aware that man is not allowed to stand higher than the Creator. God also says that evil can only be conquered by good.

Maybe that is why in the eyes of the world, the figure of Maximillian Maria Kolbe tortured in a starvation cell stands so high – as a bright flame.

Ask this great intermediary before God to teach you unconditional love for God and for every person – even your persecutors. Arm yourself with his battle for love and peace, and His final triumph will be in your hearts and in the whole world. As the Polish proverb says, “Bez Boga ani do proga” (Don’t cross the threshold without God), you must trust God without limits and beg Him that you may conquer evil in this world by the Love of God.

We – prisoners – convicted – as Our Lord Jesus Christ forgave from the hill of Golgotha, have also forgiven our torturers and persecutors. We do not harbour hate towards them, but regret and sadness and the memory of the past remains in us as scars after wounds.

If you are strong in God, you will never allow a rebirth of fascism – a monster driven by evil powers.

So, you young ones – you future of the nation and the world, you must fight daily for love – which you can achieve by continually and fully forgiving one another, and then there will never be a repeat of this dark and terrible history.

With warmest regards

Prisoner of the concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald

Józef Kołodziej


Translated by Karen Forth