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Christian Holocaust Survivors - A Special Tribute
They have been called the “forgotten survivors” even though in Western New York Polonia, a small gathering initially organized by the Polish American Congress remembers them every August. The larger community, however is very much unaware of the fate of Catholics who suffered in Nazi concentration camps. For that reason, the Am-Pol Eagle is paying a special tribute this year to Christian Holocaust survivors.
Piotr S. Wandycz, president of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, once wrote:
“While the Holocaust is well known, the fate of Polish Christians in camps is far less so.” James F. Tent, author of In the Shadow of the Holocaust: Nazi Persecution of Jewish-Christian Germans, when reviewing the book Forgotten Survivors, wrote: “A powerful and well-written book that reveals the undeniable truth that the Nazis sought to destroy the very fabric of Polish society. Even informed readers will be horrified by accounts showing that educated Poles, regardless of religion, were targeted for murder and degradation.”
Each summer when Mass is celebrated by Bishop Edward M. Grosz and concelebrated by Rev. Tadeusz Bocianowski at St. Stanislaus Cemetery to commemorate the suffering of these Christians, there are fewer survivors on hand. The observance began 9 years ago to remember that six million Poles died at the hands of the Nazis in concentration camps.
Those who have died in recent years include Kazimierz Osuch, Bronistaw Durewicz, Marian Machnik, Kazimiera Bczek, Aleksander Kurpiewski, Stanistaw Senko, Stefan Szymura, and Wiestaw Piller.
Those still around include Marek Balmas, Stanley Blake, Józef Pos(inski and Roman Malinowski. Two who have attended the service in the past do not live in the area. They are Dr. Frederik Fleszar, and Tolimer Mionskowski. Since 1998, the Mass is celebrated locally in close proximity to the feast of martyr St. Maximilian Kolbe. Joseph Maciel, organizer of the observance, has said the story of Poland must be shared with the world. “This story must be told in English so that the world knows and understands that all Poles suffered a horror unlike any other. Poles, Christians and others suffered and died at the hands of the cruelest oppressors known to mankind in World War II and not just one kind of people.” Each week, between this issue and the Citizens of the Year Awards luncheon on Sun., April 6, the Arn-Pol Eagle will feature the story of a Christian Holocaust survivor who was interviewed by Jacob Czelusta as part of an oral history project for Buffalo State College.
The Center currently holds taped interviews with these surviovors.