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152 Jesuit Victims of the Nazis
Jesuits Killed During the Holocaust - 82 Victims
Jesuits who Died in Concentration Camps - 43 Victims
Jesuits who Died in Captivity or of its Results - 27 Victims

-- From The Jesuits and the Third Reich
by  Vincent A. Lapomarda.






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).

Father 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.)
Fr. 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
Fr. Adam 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

ADAM SZTARK, S. J.  (1907-1942)

            When 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.
            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 Israel.
            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 their famous Baroque church,  a college and a school there in the late 1600s.
            Located northeast of Warsaw, Slonim was  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.
           It 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.
           And, 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]

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Last updated  February 7, 20008. Copyright © 1997-2008, College of the Holy Cross