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Other Opponents of the Nazis
-- by Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S.J.

Among the Blessed
Venerables and Servants of God

                            The first grades on the way to canonization are Venerables and Servants of God and a number of Catholics are in one or the other of these categories:

     In the spirit of  Pope John Paul II's plea to honor Christian martyrs during the Jubilee Year 2000, one should recall that other Christians too had their heroes.  There was Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), the Lutheran pastor who preached against the Nazis and was imprisoned in Dachau from 1937 to the end of the war.  There was Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), the Evangelical pastor who opposed the Nazis, especially on their treatment of the Jews, and was hanged at Flossenburg.  There was Kaj Munk (1898-1944), the Danish pastor and dramatist killed for his resistance to the Nazis.  There was Paul Schneider (1897-1939), the apostle of Buchenwald, who died a martyr in that concentration camp for his opposition to the Nazis.
      There were rescuers Andre Trocme (1901-1971), the pastor of the Hugenots in Le Chambron-sur-Lignon, France, who risked his life to save 5,000 Jews.  There was Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes (1885-1954), the Portuguese Consul-General in Bordeaux, France who saved the lives of 30,000 people by issuing them visas to neutral Portugal against the orders of Portugal's dictator.  And,  others like Stefania Podorska  and the Schindlers, Oskar (1908-74) and Emilie (1907-2001), not to mention Father Anton Weber and  Giorgio Perlasca,  helped to save Jews.
      Morever, the Catholic clergy was involved. Pierre Marie Benoit (1895-1990) , a Capuchin
monk  (baptized Pierre Peteul and  known as Padre Maria  Benedetto in Italy),  rescued 4,000 Jews, not to mention  Dom Bruno (Henri Reynders), a Belgian Benedictine monk who died in 1981 and  who had helped to protect at least 300 Jewish children from the Holocaust by providing them with false identification papers.
John Patrick Carroll-Abbing (1912-2001), the Irish Monsignor, was involved in the resistance in Rom, and Hugh O'Flaherty (1898-1963), about whom J. P. Gallagher wrote in The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican (1967) was instrumental in saving Jews and others during the Nazi occupation of Rome. . The  late Pietro Cardinal Palazzini (1912-2000) was honored by the State of Israel in 1985 for risking his life to save Jews during the war (see papal homily at his funeral). Vincenzo Cardinal Fagiolo (1918-2000) was also recognized as one of the Righteous. Among the prominent Catholic leaders  who defied Adolf Hitler there were Catholic bishops like Iuliu Cardinal Hossu of Romania (1885-1970),  Clemens August Graf von Galen of Munster (1878-1946) not to overlook Johann Baptist Dietz of Fulda (1879-1959) and Konrad von Preysing of Berlin (1880-1959), Jan de Jong of Utrecht (1885-1955),  Joseph Ernest van Roey of Belgium (1874-1961), and Adam Cardinal Sapieha of Krakow  (1867-1951).   Not too well known are certain other bishops.  Quite outspoken in  his opposition to the Nazis for their treatment of the Jews in his part of Italy was Bishop Antonio Santin (1895-1981) of Trieste.  In Poland, for example,  in addition to Sapieha, the following bishops either risked their lives to save  Jews or encouraged their clergy to do so:  Romuald Jalbrzykowski of Wilno, Teodor Kubina of Czestochowa, Jan  Kanty Lorek of Sandomierz,  Stanislaw Lukomski of Lomza, Karol Niemira of Pinisk, and Boleslaw Twardowski of Lviv (this prelate was the one who had consecrated Eugeniusz Baziak,the archbishop from whom the future Pope John Paul II received his episcopal consecration on the 28 September 1958).  Among the Salesians, two were honored by the State of Israel on May 6, 1997, for helping Jews: Francesco Antonioli and Armando Alessandrini.  Of course, one cannot overlook Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) helped Jews and there is a move to place him among the Righteous Gentiles.
    On October 25, 2001, ANSA, Italy Daily, reported that Father Giuseppe Carozzi (d. 1958), acting on direct instructions from Pope Pius XII, intervened with Leonardo Marinelli (d. 1981), who headed the Aprica internment camp in the northern part of Italy, to save Yugoslav Jews.  Due to this intervention on September 12, 1943, 300 Jews were able to exit Italy and enter Switzerland thereby being rescued from the Nazis who had taken over Italy.   In Milan today, there is a street named for Carozzi.
    One of the most unusual opponents of the Nazis was Dr. Charles Schepens, a specialist in retina surgery, who helped to rescue many people from the Nazis in Vichy France.  While a member of the Belgian  resistance, he was working in the Pyrennes with a shephered, Jean Sarochar (1892-1975) and this story is related in the book by Meg Ostrum, The Surgeon and the Shepherd  (2004),  He was honored by the French consul with the French Legion of Honor in Cambridge, Massachusetts,  March 21, 2006.


   A Native of New England  Executed
for Helping Jews Escape the Holocaust

                                                            Wladyslaw Deszcz
A priest of the Diocese of Tarnow in Poland and a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, he was killed in Biegonice, on 21 August 1941, because he gave out birth certificates to help Jews escape the Holocaust.

                 Also Noteworthy:

            Rinaldo A. Ribezzi (1915-2001), a native of Udine, Italy, and a Stigmatine Father, he concealed some 150 from  the Nazis, among them American pilots and refugee Jews,  at the Church of Santa Croce in Rome, where he was assistant pastor, during the Nazi occupation.  Coming to the United States in 1947, he spent the rest of his life in the western part of Massachusetts (The Springfield Union, June 27, 2001, and The Boston Globe, June 28, 2001).

            Monsignor Walter C. Bayer (1912-2002),  a friend close to Pope John Paul II.  He had hidden some fifty Jews when the Nazis occupied Poland and migrated to the United States where he spent most of priestly life (The Boston Globe, February 28, 2002).

           Monsignor John P. Wodarski (1905-2002), a native of Salem, Massachusetts who was known in Connecticut as "Mr. New Britain."  He had  helped to liberate the priests at Dachau while an Army chaplain in World War II (The Boston Globe, October 17, 2002).

 On Martyrs:  Bibliography
   When one recalls that millions of Catholics were martyred by the Nazis, these constitute just a fraction of them.  For an idea of how large is that number, see such sources as the documents of the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial and such studies as James F. Dunnigan's Dirty Little Secrets of World War II (Morrow, 1994); Martin Gilbert's Final Journey (Mayflower, 1979); Nerin E. Gun, The Day of the Americans (Fleet, 1996); Louis S. Snyder's Historical Guide to World War II (Greenwood, 1982); and Bohdan Wytwycky'sThe Other Holocaust (Novak Report, 1980). Other important works inclukde Josse Alzin's Martyrologe 40-45 (Editions Fasbender, 1947); Ulrich von Hehl's  Priester unter Hitlers Terror  (Matthias-Grunewald, 1984); Bedrich Hoffman's And Who Will Kill You? (Pallottinum, 1994); Wiktor Jacewicz's Martyrologium Polskiego Duchowienstwa (ATK, 1977-81); Benedicta Maria Kempner's  Nonnen Unter der Hakenkreuz (Naumann, 1979); Eugen Weiler's Die Geistlichen in Dachau (Missionsdruckerei St. Gabriel, 1971-72); and Waclaw Zajaczkowski's  Martyrs of Charity  (St. Maximilian Kolbe Foundation, 1987-1989). And, works on martyred conscientious objectors like Franz Jagerstatter, Brother Maurus, Brother Michael, Josef Mayr-Nusser, Max Josef Metzger,  Franz Reinisch,  who were victims of the Nazis should not be forgotten. 
    While visiting this web site you may also want to read.  "Five Heroic Catholics of the Holocaust" and  "The Cardinal of the Persecuted Jews" both by Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S.J.  For a recent study of the Church in helping the Jews, see Gerald Arboit, "Le Saint-Siege et la Questioni Juive en Europe Centrale pendant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale (1939-1945)," Archivum Historiae Pontificiae, 37 (1999), 161-190.
      Adam Cardinal Kozlowiecki (b. 1911), a Jesuit who spent World War II in concentration camps at Auschwitz and Dachau, has written his own work on the Jesuits who died in those camps and is listed in the bibliography below.  At the same time, Alois Cardinal Grillmeier (1910-1998) was a Jesuit serving in the German Army during World War II.  For other priests in the German Army, see Hans Jurgen Brandt's Priester in Uniform (Pattloch, 1994). 
      A Bibliography of  Works on Catholic Priests in Nazi Prison Camps is also available online.

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      Write to: Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J. ( with comments or questions.
Last updated February 7,  2008.  Copyright © 1997-2008, College of the Holy Cross