Heroes come from all walks of life, and you really never know who will become a hero and who won’t. In fact, I don’t think a hero even knows that the heroic in inside him, until the heroic is needed. Often the heroic comes from being faced with a situation that would require your life to save that of another. Such was the case for Maximilian Kolbe in 1941.
The Catholics didn’t really agree with the Jewish beliefs, and the Jews felt the same way about the Catholics beliefs, so when Hitler began rounding up the Jews, many Catholics and other religions, were quick to turn them over…it might have been to save their own lives, but they were handing them over to be killed, nevertheless…and they knew it. The non-Jews could pretend that everything was fine and the Jewish people who were taken, would be returned when things settled down, and maybe at first they truly thought that, but as time went by the truth was coming out. They now had a choice to make…a moral choice.
Kolbe was a Catholic priest during World War II. He saw what was going on with the Jewish people, when Hitler started rounding them up. Kolbe could read between the lines, as many people could in those horrific days, and he decided to help Jewish people escape the Nazis. Being a Catholic priest, he likely had more room that other people might have had. He started harboring Jewish people and hiding them from the Nazis, keeping them safe from the public and any harm that might be afflicted upon them. As with many people who harbored Jews, Kolbe was soon caught, and was sent to Auschwitz for sheltering Jewish people.
Auschwitz was one of the worst of Hitler’s torture chamber death camps, and it certainly proved to be just that for Kolbe. During his time at the horrid concentration camp, a prisoner escaped from the camp and as punishment, ten innocent prisoners had to starve to death in a hollow, concrete tube. One of the elected people started to cry and exclaimed that they had a wife and kids, so Kolbe spoke up and took his place so the man could be with this family. The prisoners were kept in the tube for the next two weeks. Most of them were already in a weakened and starved state, and so the prisoners inside the tube slowly began to die. Of the ten prisoners, Kolbe and three other men managed to survive the torturous tube. One would think that if they survived the tube, they would be considered strong enough to bring out and put back to work, but the remaining prisoners were brought out of the tube and killed by being injected with Carbolic Acid. When it was his turn to receive the injection, Kolbe didn’t fight like the rest of the men, but instead, he gave his arm to the prison guard and never once made a fuss over it. One might think that Kolbe was just done with the whole mess, and maybe that was true, but it would have made no difference for him to fight. The guards had decided, and his fighting the injection would make no difference. Maximilian Kolbe died on August 14, 1941. He was 47 years old.