Return to the Hiatt
Holocaust Collection Home Page
152 Jesuit Victims of the Nazis
Killed During the Holocaust - 82 Victims
who Died in Concentration Camps - 43 Victims
who Died in Captivity or of its Results - 27 Victims
-- From The
Jesuits and the Third Reich
by Vincent A. Lapomarda.
THE ABOVE 55 BY 28 PLAQUE IN BRONZE OF THE JESUIT VICTIMS OF
THE NAZIS WAS DEDICATED AT THE FINUCANE JESUIT CENTER OF ROCKHURST
IN KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, ON APRIL 12, 2007. IT WAS FUNDED
BY ELIOT BERKELEY, A ROCKHURST REGENT, AND HIS WIFE MARCIA. THE 152
NAMES ARE FROM
VINCENT A. LAPOMARDA'S BOOK, THE JESUITS AND THE THIRD REICH.
CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO READ THE NAMES OF THE VICTIMS.
BASILICA OF THE SACRED HEART
PLAQUE OF POLISH JESUITS WHO WERE
VICTIMS OF THE NAZIS
Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe (1907-1991), Superior General of the Society
of Jesus (1965-81), signing the Guest Book at the Majdanek, the major concentration
camp in area of Lublin, Poland, where at least three Jesuit priests (Kazimierz
Maciejewski, Stefan Sliwinski, and Jozef Warszawski) and one Jesuit brother
(Marcin Malik) were imprisoned during World War II. This Picture
was published in Ojczyzna (1969).
Pope John Paul II visited Warsaw, on 13 June 1999, he beatified 108
victims of the Nazis, half of whom died through torture or execution
at the Auschwitz or Dachau concentration camps. The list included Capuchins,
Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, and Salesians, not to mention a number
of other religious whose orders and congregations which, as far back as
1992, responded to the invitation to introduce the causes of their members.
Unfortunately, at that time, the Jesuits of Poland did not regard the inclusion
of Jesuits as that important. Subsequently, they have come to appreciate
that they had missed an important opportunity to include those heroic Jesuits
who were martyred by the Nazis during World War II.
Adam Sztark and Companions, Jesuit Martyrs:
(Their Cause was inaugurated, on March 23, 2000; the Vatican
Congregation approved, on May 15, 2003,the request of the Polish Bishops
Conference to open the Canonization Process; and the first sessionof the
Canonization Process took place on September 17, 2003. On the 4th November
2004, in a solemn ceremony, Joseph Cardinal Glemp brought to a close the
informatory process of nine Jesuit servants of God, who belonged to the
Jesuit Province of Greater Poland and Masovia, martyrs of the II WW (they
are indicated with a cross below). The Jesuits of the Province
of Minor Poland are conducting their own informatory process on the eight
other Jesuit martyrs.)
Stanislaw Bednarski (1902-1942) at Dachau
Fr. Jozef Cyrek (1904-1940) at Auschwitz
Fr. Kazimierz Dembowski (1912-1942) at Dachau
Fr. Stanislaw Felczak (1906-1942) at Dachau+
Fr. Franciszek Kaluza (1877-1941) at Dachau
Br. Stanislaw Komar (1882-1942) at Dachau+
Fr. Michal Malinowski (1887-1942) at Dachau+
Fr. Marian Jozef Wojciech Morawski (1881-1940) at Auschwitz+
Mr. Jerzy Musial (1919-1945) at Dachau+
Fr. Stanislaw Tadeusz Podolenski (1887-1945) at Dachau
Fr. Edmund Roszak (1900-1943) at Swislocz+
Fr. Czeslaw Sejbuk (1906-1943) at Dachau+
Mr. Stanislaw Sewillo (1907-1943) at Dachau
Sztark (1907-1942) at Slonim+
Fr. Wladyslaw Wiacek (1910-1944) at Warsaw+
Mr. Bronislaw Wielgosz (1916-1942) at Dachau
Br. Jan Zajac (1911-1945) at Dachau
SZTARK, S. J. (1907-1942)
Certainly, it is encouraging to anyone who knows the extent of the Nazi
persecution of the Catholic Church that the Holy Father was able
to beatify so many martyrs of his native country.
These Polish martyrs for the faith recall St. Augustine of Hippo's
affirmation that there was no need to pray for the repose of the souls
of martyrs becaue they had already attained eternal life through their
martyrdom. This is what Augustine's Latin judgment "Injuriam facit
martyri qui orat pro eo" ("he offends a martyr who prays for him")
means. The Church now makes much the same declaration by simply declaring
that recognized martyrs need no proof of a miracle before beatification.
The Second World War, which saw the destiny of many groups linked
in suffering, was a horrible time for dedicated Catholics as well
as Jews. Just as it is true to speak of a Nazi war against the Jews,
it is also accurate to speak of a similar war against the Jesuits.
This is particularly so in Poland where at least seventy Polish Jesuits
perished as victims during the Nazi persecution. Of these, some twenty
died at Dachau where more Jesuits than any other religious order
were imprisoned. And, of the approximate 150 Jesuit victims of the
Nazis, at least half of them were Polish priests, brothers, and seminarians.
One of that number was Adam Sztark, a priest who sacrificed his life
at the age of thirty-five to save Jewish children.
For years, this writer has engaged in corresponding with Yad Vashem in
Jerusalem to have that authority recognize Father Sztark as a Righteous
Gentile (at least eight Jesuits are listed among them) for sacrificing
his life to save Jewish orphans.
However, the lack of documentation in his case has been regarded as an
obstacle to recognizing him as a Righteous Gentile by the state of
Yet, Father Sztark has at least three times been named a Jesuit martyr
--- by Felicjan Paluszkiewicz, Przyszli sluzyc (Rome, 1985),
by the present author, in his book on The Jesuits and the Third Reich
(1989), and by the editor of an encyclopedia on the Jesuits in Poland
(1992). Moreover, he has now been listed in the martyrology
yearbook of the Society of Jesus for 2000. His sacrifice has
earned him the honor of being considered one of Polandís most distinguished
unsung heroes of the Holocaust and World War II.
There are few details about Sztark's life before he had his rendezvous
with destiny. The son of Wladyslaw and Teresa (Galecka) Sztark, Adam was
born, on 30 July 1907, at Zbiersk in the Province of Kalisz, southwest
of Warsaw. The day of his birth was the day before the Feast of St. Ignatius
Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus. He entered the
Jesuit Order at Stara Wies, on 6 September 1924, becoming a member
of the branch of known as the Greater Polish and Mazovian Province
of the Society of Jesus, which is centered in Warsaw.
He was ordained a priest at Lublin, east of Warsaw, on June 24, 1936, after
the customary long years of Jesuit preparation. He was assigned as
pastor of the Marian
Shrine at Zyrowice in 1939, the fatal year of the German invasion of
Poland. The shrine was located in what is now the country of Belarus in
the region of Grodno (Hrodna) not far from Slonim,
in a territory which, between the two world wars, was held by Poland,
and later by the Soviet Union from 1939 to 1941, until the Germans
occupied the area.
The terror unleashed by the Nazi occupation forces began in Slonim
on June 25, 1941, three days after Germany invaded Russia.
In a short time the Nazis had exterminated almost the entire
Jewish population of Slonim. Before the German seized the area, that population
numbered at least twenty thousand.
The Jewish community in the area of Slonim dated back to Ashkenazic
Jews who fled to Eastern Europe from Portugal and Spain in the early 1500s.
Jews were already settled in Slonim there when the Jesuits established
Baroque church, a college and a school there in the late 1600s.
Located northeast of Warsaw, Slonim
noted for its historic Jewish center, the Great
Synagogue, along with its historic Jesuit church, until the Jesuit
presence in the area had been terminated with the suppression of the Society
of Jesus in the later part of the 1700s. The Jewish presence remained
very evident in that part of Belarus after the Jesuits had been deprived
by the papacy of their ecclesiastical and educational foundations.
With their restoration in the early 1800s, the Jesuits returned to that
region to carry on different apostolic works, such as that of Father
Sztark at the Marian shrine at Zyrowice and at the local hospital, where
he ministered to Roman Catholics.
Starting on July 14, 1941, the Nazis began rounding up the
leadership of the Jewish
community, executing at least one thousand of them. Then, on
November 14, the Nazis went after ten thousand more of the Jewish population,
before they set up a ghetto in the Zabinka area of Slonim in December.
In June of 1942, the Nazis set fire to this hoping to eliminate even more
of the Jewish population. These were preliminary steps in the German plan
of total annihilation, temporarily delayed by fierce Russian battles.
From August 1942, the German Army had been engaged in furious
actions which would in the following year lead to the pivotal Battle of
Stalingrad. The Nazis were counting on a victory there that
would enable them to complete their barbaric extermination policy
which was already well under way.
was in the final phase of their "final solution" that the Gestapo
broke into the convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, on December 19, 1942. The convent was
in the [prewar Polish] provincial area of Nowogrodek, in Slonim.
The religious community was under Mother Superior Kazimiera Wolowska (1879-1942)
whose religious name was Sister
Maria Marta. She was assisted by Bogumila Noiszewska (1885-1942) who
was known in religious life as Sister
Maria Ewa. Both had been hiding and caring for orphaned
Jewish children, whom Father Sztark had been rescuing and bringing to them.
The children had been hidden in the attic of the convent of the nuns.
Though the sisters lived in fear of a Nazi search, they were completely
surprised when armed men broke into their convent. A thorough
search soon located the Jewish children in the attric. Since hiding Jews
was a crime punishable by death, the Gestapo tortured the sisters to extract
any information they could use to continue their campaign against the Jews.
When the sisters refused to betray any of those helping them in their clandestine
activities, the Nazis. that very day, took both sisters out to a
nearby execution site, a place called Gorki Pantalowickie.
There the forced the nuns into a pit and shot them.
Within ten days of the execution of Blessed Maria Marta and Blessed Maria
Ewa, the Gestapo caught up with Father Sztark. The priest's life
had been in danger for years. First during the hostile occupation
by the Soviets and then by the Nazis. He never hesitated to serve
as a shepherd for the defenseless, first as the pastor for parishioners
in Zyrowice, then for Jewish childrlen who had managed to survive the round
up and slaughter of their parents. The priest repeatedly risked his
life by collecting the children and concealing them in his rectory until
he was able to secretly take them to the realtive safety of the Immaculate
Conception Convent. He fully knew that keeping these Jewish children
out of the hands of the Nazis would cost him his life if he should be discovered.
It is clear that he began this work and continued to carry it out in respect
to to the Gospel command to "love your neighbor."
Just as the Gestapo came in suddenly on the sisters in the convent on December
19th, so on December 27th their command car appeared without warning
in front of the priestís house in Zyrowice. The startled priest
was immediately ordered to leave without taking anything with him.
He asked if he could take bread in order to say Mass. The Gestapo agent
leading the Jesuit away sardonically said: "Where you
are going, there's plenty of bread!" This merciless tone of the SS
man told Father Sztark that his end was near. He submitted,
simply saying: "It is my martyrdom."
Father Sztark still had one more night to live, however. It was not
until the following day that he was packed into a truck filled with others
who had defied the laws of the Nazi occupation. They were taken to the
same place, Gorki Pantalowickie, where the two Sisters of the Immaculate
Conception had been killed just a few days previously, the same site which
the Nazis used for their executions of the Jews in that area. When
they arrived there, Father Sztark, like his fellow victims, was ordered
to undress himself. He was prepared to meet his Maker, but
he wanted to do so in the black robe of the Jesuit Order of which he was
such a faithful member. So he told his executioners he would not
undress, saying he wanted to die in his robe. For some reason his
killers granted him his last wish. [Note that in an e-mail of Wanda
Sitarz, the niece of Father Sztark, on August 26, 2008, she corrrected
the dates of her uncle's arrest as Dec. 18th and of his exucution as Dec.
19th, in other words the same dates as for the arrest (Dec. 18th and execution
(Dec. 19th) of the nuns.]
The Nazis forced him along with all their victims into a pit, and began
riddling them with bullets. The priest, though mortally wounded,
was not immediately killed. In one last great display of will and
in excruciating pain he managed to stand and gasp out these final, glorious
words: "All for Christ the King! Long Live Poland!"
For Jesuits, those words recall the final words of another Jesuit, Blessed
Miguel Augustin Pro (1891-1927). Fr. Pro had been brought to
his execution in a similar manner three years after Father Sztark had entered
the Society of Jesus. The Mexican priest had cried out, "Long Live
Christ the King!" Perhaps Blessed Miguel Pro's last words had inspired
Father Sztark's words of courage, faith, love and patriotism.
Certainly, in reflecting on the life of Father Sztark, there is no doubt
that he died a martyr. His life stands as a symbol of what the Jesuits
did in order to help the Jews at a time when the Jesuits themselves were
the objects of constant Nazi persecution.
since the two Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, who had helped Fr.
Sztark rescue the orphaned Jewish children, were among those 108 Polish
martyrs who were beatified by Pope
John Paul II in Warsaw, there can be no doubt that Rev. Adam Sztark,
S. J., is also worthy of being considered one of the distinguished
Polish martyrs of the twentieth century.
By Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J.
Coordinator, Holocaust Collection
Copyright © INSIDE THE
VATICAN, May 2000, 52-53
[Later Published in Polish, ZYCIE DUCHOWE, Jesien, 24/2000]
Write comments or questions to: Rev.
Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Last updated February 7, 20008. Copyright
© 1997-2008, College of the Holy Cross