Friday, 10 June 2011

Carmelites in Dachau

Yesterday I finally sat down and made a list of all the Carmelite friars who were interred in Dachau Concentration Camp. It required spending an hour going through Egon Weiler's authoritative The Religious in Dachau, which contains information on all three thousand priests, brothers and religious. There really were priests and religious from all denominations, though 94% were Latin rite Catholics.

In total there were 11 Carmelites in Dachau, eight from Poland and three from the Netherlands. Six of them would survive their time in Dachau, some for almost four and a half years; the other five did not. Two of them were beatified, Bl. Titus Brandsma and Bl. Hilary Januszewski.

Where both names were given, I have included their profession name in brackets. They are:

Brandsma, Anno (Titus) Died 1942 in Dachau

Buszta, Antoni: Died 1942 in Dachau

Januszewski, Pawel (Hilary): Died 1945 in Dachau

Koza, Michel (Leon): Died 1942 in Dachau

Majcher, Pawel: Liberated 1945

Makowski, Pawel: Died 1942 in Dachau

Nowakowski, Franciszek: Liberated 1945

Rypma, John (Desiderius): Liberated 1945

Tijhuis, Bernard (Raphael): Liberated 1945

Urbanski, Zenon (Albert): Liberated 1945

Wszelaki, Adam: Liberated 1945

From the information given, as well as then Prior General Fr. Joseph Chalmer's letter on the Beatification of Hilary Januszewski, it seems that four of the Polish Carmelites were arrested on the 18th September in Krakow, before being sent to Sachsenhausen or Auschwitz Concentration Camps for approximately month. They were then transferred to the Priesterblock 28 in Dachau in mid December 1940.

I felt it important to compile this list, as I haven't seen it anywhere before, not even in books about Bl. Titus. Six of these men, four Polish and two Dutch, went back to their Carmelite way of life having gone through the most horrific treatment. With the exception of Br. Raphael and Fr. Albert Urbanski (who held a Curia position later in his life if I remember rightly) their lives seem to have been forgotten. Both Raphael and Albert wrote of their experiences as well. The identities of the other seven were a mystery to me. I was aware of their existence, as I knew that Bl. Hilary's story involved the deportation of at least four brothers from Krakow, but if there is anything this year has taught me it is the value and meaning of a name to one's identity as a person.

Next week I will be visiting Auschwitz and Krakow for a seminar, one of the final events in my time here in Dachau; I will try and remember their names as I go around.

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