Christ the Lord, Broadfield
Church of England
Broadfield Barton, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 9BA
Come and join us for Morning Worship on Sunday at 11am and find a warm welcome! This Sunday it is Holy Communion. Come along and join us in the celebration.
An ecumenical prayer meeting (Prayer walk if dry) for our neighbourhood is being held on Monday 19th Novemberat 6.45pm. This prayer meeting will be every 3rd Monday of the month at 6.45pm at Broadfield church.
Prisoner 16770 – Executed! The evil death camp Auschwitz, known many to us today because of the killings during WWII and the horror of the gas chambers where the largest numbers of European Jews were killed by the Nazis. Here Prisoner 16770 who was executed. His name Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan Polish priest, who died on August 14, 1941.
When a prisoner escaped from the camp, the Nazis selected 10 others to be killed by starvation in reprisal. One of the 10 selected to die, Franciszek Gajowniczek, began to cry: “My wife! My children! I will never see them again!” At this Kolbe stepped forward and asked to die in his place. This substitution surprised many, but his request was indeed granted. Observers believed in horror that the commandant would be angered and would refuse the request, or would order the death of both men. The commandant remained silent for a moment. What his thoughts were on being confronted by this brave priest we have no idea. Amazingly, however, he agreed to the request. Apparently, the Nazis had more use for a young worker than for an old one. Gajowniczek was returned to the ranks, and the priest took his place
Kolbe was sent to the death camp for offering shelter to 3,000 Polish refugees, among whom were 2,000 Jews. The friars shared everything they had with the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them in line with Jesus’ teaching and the early Church.
One day an SS officer abused him terribly and when he collapsed he was thrown him in the mud and left him for dead. His companions managed to smuggle him to the camp infirmary where he recovered. The doctor, Rudolph Diem, recalled, “I can say with certainty that during my four years in Auschwitz, I never saw such a sublime example of the love of God and one's neighbour.”
Gajowniczek later recalled, 'I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I, the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me - a stranger. Is this some dream?
I was put back into my place without having had time to say anything to Maximilian Kolbe. I was saved. And I owe to him the fact that I could tell you all this. The news quickly spread all round the camp. It was the first and the last time that such an incident happened in the whole history of Auschwitz.
For a long time I felt remorse when I thought of Maximilian. By allowing myself to be saved, I had signed his death warrant. But now, on reflection, I understood that a man like him could not have done otherwise. Perhaps he thought that as a priest his place was beside the condemned men to help them keep hope. In fact he was with them to the last.'‘
Kolbe's body was removed to the crematorium and without ceremony was disposed of with no dignity.
I read that Gajowniczek died in 1995 in Poland, aged 93.
As I heard about this account at school for the first time it was instrumental for me coming to faith as Kolbe offered me such an example of Jesus Christ who took our punishment and our place on the cross at Calvary, died a criminals death that we might be free and have a relationship with out heavenly Father.