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Rev. Marian Jacek Dabrowski

Niewodowo, Poland

Marian was raised by Catholic parents in Niewodowo, a town in Poland's Bialystok Province near Lomza. His family lived there under Tsarist rule until 1918, when Poland regained its independence. Following high school, Marian joined the Capuchin Franciscan Order of Friars. After eight years of study in France and Italy, he returned to Poland to teach philosophy to students of his order.

1933-39: When Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, I was at our monastery near Grodno. We evacuated the monastery three weeks later when Soviet troops, invading from the east, reached Grodno. I returned to Lomza. Our new Soviet rulers rejected religion, claiming it exploited the working people. I challenged this in my sermons. When I learned that the Soviets were about to arrest me, I escaped to German-occupied Poland.

1940-45: In 1941 the Nazis arrested me in Warsaw. I was told that there was no real reason for my arrest, but that as an educated Pole, I couldn't be trusted to cooperate. I was held in Pawiak Prison and then deported to Auschwitz. There, the commandant lectured us about working hard. An interpreter was translating his ranting into Polish, but I understood German. He yelled that we'd only be freed through the crematorium chimney. Instead of translating those words, the interpreter said, "You will overcome everything."

Rev. Dabrowski was deported to Dachau where he was subjected to malaria experiments. He was liberated on April 29, 1945, by American troops and emigrated to the United States in 1949.

 

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