Tekst jest traktowany jako integralna całość, można go cytować, ale zgodnie z prawem z podaniem źródła, tzn. autora książki i jej tytułu, osoby udzielające wywiadu, no i tłumacza amatora:). Tłumaczenie jest moje (z pomocą Google Translate), dlatego jest pewnie w nim dużo błędów:), pro publico bono, całkowicie bez wynagrodzenia.
In defense of Poland's honor
with Karol Tendera
On the day of the outbreak of the WW2, you were 18 years old. How do you recall the pre-war relations of Poles and Jews in the former capital of Poland?
These were good relationships. Even before the war I had several friends among Jews. We rode bicycles together for trips and played football. During the war, I met them in Auschwitz. They got there from me earlier. As for excesses in the form of inscriptions, “beat a Jew" or "Jews go from Poland", of course they did happen, but their content didn’t translate into reality. Today, hooligans and young boys also write similar slogans on the walls. However, you can find dumbsters and fools everywhere. Democracy savaged people.
How were the relations between the Poles and the Jews locked up by Germans the in ghetto in Cracow?
Very correctly. There were whole groups of Jews who sought to reach Poles. We didn’t only have commercial and social contacts with these Jews, but also kinship. After all, the Jews lived in Kazimierz, where they had their apartments and shops. The Poles were united with the Jews in their betrothal or marriages. Even as a bachelor, I had such a young, lovable Jewess. We met with each other and even seriously thought about our common future. Also, these were very correct relations. Some Poles even made themselves very vulnerable and helped the Jews, despite the fact that they were punished by death for hiding Jews. I have even friends who helped Jews during the war.
In Auschwitz and Birkenau, relations between Poles and Jews were very good, because real solidarity prevailed among us. I worked with the Jews in commandos and we all stayed together. There were no divisions. We were all treated by Germans equally, equally barbaric. In these tragic and terrible conditions, friendships are born. Solidarity is born. In Birkenau, a Jewish nurse from Krankenbau help me. After the war, these relations, of course, looked a bit different. There were many people of Jewish nationality in the Polish People's Republic, among them Jakub Berman, Józef Różański, and Józef Światło.
How did you get in to KL Auschwitz?
The Germans took me from a vocational school on Krupnicza Street in Krakow and took me to the Hanover aircraft factory, which was bombed almost daily. After a year of being in fear, that one day the Allies would bomb the barracks in which we lived, and which were three hundred meters from the masked factory, I decided to escape. However, I was caught in Brzeg when I was on the train. I had to think that I had come to look for a job, because if the Germans learned that I had escaped from this factory, they would hang me up immediately. They warned us that we were in danger of death for escaping. Fortunately, I managed to get away from the lock and the Germans transported me under guard to Breslau, as at that time called Wroclaw. There, for one and a half month, I worked as a forced laborer at the Wrocław railway station, however, was also bombed, except by Russian planes. Again I was terrified that I would die and run away. This time I managed to get to Krakow, where I found my father. However, I couldn’t stay with him because the German police were looking for me. I was hiding for half a year, until I fell into the hands of the Gestapo in a colonial shop on Tomasz's street, where I took up a job. A colleague from the store told me that one Gestapo asked about me. And this Gestapo officer heard all this, because he was still in front of the shop window and came back inside the shop and asked: - "Mr. Tendera?" I confirmed that it was me. Then the Gestapo officer showed his official ID and forced me to enter to a black Citroën with two uniformed SS-men from where I was transported to the Gestapo Headquarters on Pomorska St. To the room where I was interrogated Germany brought around fifties year old priest and Germans told me to sign the protocol, in which I had to admit that I and the priest falsified identity cards. The priest told me that what was in the protocol wasn’t his word and he didn’t commit the deeds he was accused of. He was very beaten and terribly tormented. I told the Germans that I see him for the first time I am not a printer and I don’t have a profession. All the time, however, they were tormenting me to sign the priest's protocol. They beat their elbow to make the impact more powerful. That's why I'm deaf to one ear today. I finally told them that they could kill me, shoot me, but I will not sign anything, because it isn’t true. After three hours of beating, they took the priest, and they dragged me into the car and took me to the Montelupich prison. There, I meet two young guys in the cell. Władysław Krok, athlete and footballer, a very important person for me and Eugeniusz Bachleda-Curus from Zakopane. There were about eight of us in the cell, but it was with these two guys that friendship brought me together. After more than a month spent together in a prison cell, two delivery vans arrived at us under a tarpaulin, lined with sheet metal. They told us to kneel on this metal sheet, and it was minus eighteen degrees. We were afraid that they would take us to Krzeszowice or Zakrzówek, where the Germans shot Poles. It was on February 5, 1943. I thought it was the last day of my life. However, we were driving for more than two hours and we clearly move away from Krakow. They took us into the unknown direction. Finally, the trucks came to the camp gate with the inscription: "Arbeit macht frei." We have heard about the German concentration camp at Auschwitz, where the Germans murdered Jews, since Auschwitz was active from spring 1940. We didn’t know what would happen to us. They chased us into this unmerciful frost to the sauna, and after the sauna, the older prisoners took us out bald. All time we heard the Germans shouting: "raus, raus, los schnell". Nude with the hot, wet body, we stood in the cold and waited for us to bring some clothes. We were massaging our back, but it didn’t help, because the cold was unmerciful, and the snow reached us knees. At some point, the prisoners rode with a pram that contained shirts, hose and mütze. In a word Jews clothes. They threw us these clothes and everyone assumed what he managed to catch. I got a thin shirt with short sleeves.
I learned from fellow prisoners how the führer lager Karl Frich had previously addressed the newly arrived prisoners, preparing them mentally for what was about to happen. He spoke to prisoners set up in inter-block streets: "You came here to the German concentration camp and this isn’t a sanatorium. This is a labor camp, hard work that you will not last long. Jews have the right to live here for a maximum of two weeks. Priests and Gypsies have the right to live up to a month. All the rest for three months. We are already preparing more transports and we must have a free space for them. So if someone does not like it, he can go on wires today, touch them, and tomorrow he will get out of the crematorium chimney”. On the day we heard such a dictum from the inmates, about twelve elderly men went to their deaths at night. In the morning we saw their burnt bodies hanging from wires that were under the voltage of 380 volts. Every day someone walked on these wires in despair. He couldn’t bear the camp conditions and that he was torn out of the house from his wife and children. After two months, half of us were gone. Either they went for wires or they died. they couldn’t stand mentally and physically because they were mostly older men: clerks, economists, engineers, priests, merchants ... In a word, the intelligentsia. It must be remembered that Hitler took aim not only Jews, but also Poles with Polish intelligentsia at the forefront. In Krakow and in every big city, Germans installed loudspeakers from which propaganda contents flowed. They talked about Adolf Hitler and the victorious battles. At the end of 1942, the Germans boasted of the progress of the offensive on the Eastern Front. Hitler's speech was once launched, saying: "Have no mercy for anyone. Only Germany counts. Don’t save anyone. Someone dies, help him to die quickly". In this spirit, the archcriminal spoke. Every day, 70 wagons with Poles arrived in Sobibór, There, however, the Germans were helped by the Ukrainians who were uniformed in black uniforms and forage caps, which made them officers of the German regime. They used to beat Poles and abuse them. And what did the Ukrainians do in Volhynia? That is why I have a grudge against Donald Tusk and Ewa Kopacz, who fell in love with Ukrainians. They train their army, borrow money and offend themselves that the Russians took over Crimea. In the meantime, they only picked him up, because it wasn’t Ukrainian at all, but Russian. Only this stupid Khrushchev gave him to Ukrainians as a gift. Why Poles are interfering and putting themselves at risk for Putin? Only Polish economy, and above all farmers, lose out on our meddling. Recently, there was a row about who liberated Auschwitz. Who liberated us ?! Well, the Soviet Army, not the Ukrainians as falsely claimed, Grzegorz Schetyna. They even toured him, however. Of course, the Ukrainians were in this army, because it was the Soviet Union, but the commander-in-chief was none other than Ivan Koniew, Russian. If you don’t know history, you should not talk and ridicule you. Returning, however, to the conditions prevailing in Auschwitz, it really was a death camp. Only hang yourself. I made the decision myself to go to the wires ten times. Władek Krok always took care of me in such situations. I owe my life to him. He had a good heart. He was a very decent and handsome man. I'm sorry for how he ended up terribly. When he came back to Krakow after the war, he was surrounded by colleagues and he broke up. They came to him and said: "Wladzie, drink with us. Thank God that you are alive". Sometimes, at the request of his mother, I pulled him out of the café "Kaprys" at night. I came for him, and two girls and four bulls were sitting at the table with bottles of vodka. I took him home by taxi to his mother, who was happy that I brought him to her. However, he lived for five more years and died of liver failure. He is currently at the Rakowicki Cemetery. Every year I go to him on the grave and light him with white and red candles. I say to him then: "Wladzu, I am still alive and I remember You." I never met a man who would have as much optimism as he did.
Each block had its own blockführer. After one of the appeals, the blockführer from our block read fifteen numbers that were to be reported to him. There were no names at the time. For Germans, we were just numbers. I still have this number to this day. Hunderttausendvierhundertdreißig (100 430).
The day before yesterday one German asked me in Krakow if I ever tried to remove him. I told her that I didn’t try, because it wouldn’t only be very painful, because it is necessary to cut or burn the skin, but above all this number is a kind of a souvenir for me. Admittedly sad but very important. One of the numbers read by the Führer block belonged to me. When we stood before him, he told us to go with him. We were scared, because at every step we were threatened with beating or death. It turned out that we are being led to medical experiments as experimental rabbits in block 28. They injected us some tea-colored liquid. They left us on beds and for a few days every day an SS-men in a white coat came to us. We were observed by SS-Sturmbannführer Dr. Eduard Wirths and the doctor of philosophy and medicine of SS-Obersturmführer, Johann Paul Kremer. The head of the entire laboratory where human experiments were carried out was Dr. SS-Hauptsturmführer, Josef Mengele, who fled to Argentina after the war and thus escaped justice.
After the experiment carried out for us, they let us go to the block and directed us to various commandos. After two or three months since then, on one of the evening appeals, we were told that tomorrow we should come next to the kitchen, where there was also a rail, which was a gallows, where before our eyes they were hanged for the escape of other inmates. When we arrived at the kitchen in the morning, we were led in an unknown direction. Among the people who escorted us was man from Silesia. When we were behind the wire of the camp, a friend asked him where they were leading us. "Go on for convalescence," answered Ślązak. I thought that after the injection we want to revive and heal, because they need people to work. Unfortunately, after two and a half kilometers, my assumptions turned out to be a dream ... We went to the gate of the Birkenau camp, which was two hundred percent worse than Auschwitz. Among the prisoners of this camp, the Poles were about fifteen percent because it was intended mainly for Jews. To this day, a street stretches from the gate of this camp, which is made by a broke brick. On its sides there was mud. And behind the gate, we found out exactly what our revive would be. In the barracks at Birkenau, there was only a concrete floor and lair on which, on wooden chips, lay in rags full of dirt, fleas and lice human halftraps. There were so many fleas and they were so exhausting that we had the whole bodies mottled. It was impossible to sleep at all. There was also no furnace, no water, no toilets, there were terrible conditions there, that I told my friend Władek that if I only had a gun, I would shoot myself straight away. Władek told me, however, that I would not let such thoughts go to me at all. Birkenau, however, was a trap and a vestibule of death.. During my lectures at the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim, I tell the Germans: " Imagine that some occupant pulls you out of the family, out of the house and puts you in such a dirty, cold barrack without a ceiling and makes you live there!" Let Germany be aware and they remember that their fathers and grandparents did so.
What did you do in Birkenau?
In Birkenau, Germany assigned us to dig ponds. When one day I turned over on slippery clay with my friend who I worked with, an SS man came to us and began to cruelly beat us with a thick, rubber-stuffed rubber hose. This bandit kicked me with the toe of the boot to the tailbone so strongly that for ten years after the war I did feel this paralyzing pain. It hit the last vertebra of the spine. The pain was terrible, unbearable and unmistakable. However, I had to work further. I've worked that way for a month. However, because I was sick, my friends persuaded me to go to a camp-like pseudo-hospital, Krankenab. Nobody, however, knew what was going on there. Well, in front of the hospital barrack where I was to be cured, there were twenty who were moving their hands, or the legs of the half-men who were calling for help and a drop of water in this way. This sight crushed me. But I entered the hospital barrack. It turned out that the inside was even worse than in the barrack where I lived. I approached the nurse with the Star of David on my shoulder and said to him, "Listen to me, is there a doctor here? I have temperature, diarrhea torments me”. Almost everyone had diarrhea at that time, there were five hundred people in one barrack, ninety percent of whom had diarrhea. The nurse that I asked for help told me "You are crazy? You do not know why he came here? That they burn you in a crematorium in two days”. After a while, he asked me where I was from, so I answered him that I was from Krakow. And he said," I am from Krakow too. I'll give you some pills that will lower your temperature. Do you have friends on the block?" - He asked. "I have" I replied, "I advise you to leave this place as soon as possible. It's best tomorrow morning. Let your friend burn your bread for coal and eat this coal two or three times a day. In this way, you will stop diarrhea. There is no other council, because here you came for death. There is no doctor here. We are only to give you a soup on the barrel"- said the Jew from Krakow. The only thing I know about this Jew is that he was Marian and we had the same friends in Krakow. Then I never met him again. I used his advice. I slept the night with smelly, dirty wet half-dead, and in the morning I left the hospital mortuary as soon as possible. I was immediately caught by a kapo and driven to the siding for work. There was mud everywhere. Blood poured from my shoulders because I had to carry heavy, wet elements of barrack. I was there for two or three days. I saw them drive up to the trains with goods and people. One day at noon he pulled up a train with cattle cars, from which people began to pour out. The SS-men were always making noise around them. Perhaps, in this way, they wanted to evoke fear among their victims and introduce an atmosphere of terror, which was felt even without their cries. All of those who arrived from the transport were ordered to sit in Turkish. The poor people had numbed legs and barely kept in this position. I remember the behavior of two young SS-men with leather harpies. They walked among Jews and beat older people. The Germans immediately separated men from the rest of the group and brought them to work.Twelve young boys between seven and twelve years, however, decided to face the Germans, because none of them had any proof and it was not known whether to send them immediately to gas or to work. So they set two metal rods in the mud and pulled the line between them. If the boy was walking under the rope, he would go to the left of the "links", as he hooked her, it was directed to the right "rechts". One side meant almost instant death in the gas chamber. Meanwhile, mothers hang on to three small children, and the children held on to their mothers. There was a cry and a cry because the children did not want to leave their mothers. With that in front of my eyes, this terrible sight, along with several Jewish friends, wept. Woth Poles and Jews were weeping, or God's sake, it was known that these little children would go to gas right away. These little Jews had such a nice brown hair. I would like to take two for upbringing. Germany, however, like garbage, threw these children into carts, called rollwagen. The children jumped out of them and cried, shouted, screamed. In the end, they took them for a bath by force. I knew exactly what the bath was like, because every crematorium had - made up of fifty people - their own Sonderkommando. First they poured these people hot water, and then they threw Cyclone B from the holes in the ceiling, which, in combination with water, formed gas. People were quickly choking. The Sonderkommando would later bring these people to the ovens. As there was no space in the furnaces, stacks were made of human bodies near the forest and burned. It stank terribly. The burned human body is very stinking.
After those people killed by the Germans, there were clothes and suitcases with Hebrew inscriptions. My Jewish colleagues looking at these inscriptions on suitcases quickly realized where these people came from. One of my Jewish companions with tears in his eyes said to me: "Karol, these are my countrymen from Belgium. They are rushing them to gas. Karol, where is Almighty God now? Where is he? This is false on a world scale! I don’t believe in any gods!". That's how the Jews screamed. I also broke down, my faith in the existence of any gods was shaken, just as Czesław Miłosz once said, don’t believe in any gods, leave it to the Catholic hierarchy. When I spoke to German students and teachers in Cologne, they cried. Once in the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Auschwitz, I also told this story to the officers of the German army who came to visit Auschwitz. I told them plainly: "civilized and cultural German people committed the most terrible crimes in broad daylight."
Isn’t it that people did this fate for people? The German Nazis, after all, rejected the Christian God and spoke against Him and His teachings.
The Germans had on their belts a buckle with the inscription "Gott mit uns". Otto von Bismarck once said about the Germans: "Wir Deutsche fürchten Gott, aber sonst nichts in der Welt" - " We Germans fear God and nothing else in the world". Otto von Bismarck declared that his countrymen believe in God, and at that time his countrymen murdered women and children, how to reconcile with each other? When Pope Benedict XVI in Auschwitz, he said: "How many questions arise in this place! One thing returns: Where was God in those days, why was he silent, how could he allow such a great destruction, for this triumph of evil. Cardinal Joachim Meissner similarly told me in Cologne. At the end of a large meeting with the participation of former prisoners of German concentration camps, he asked if any of those present were in Auschwitz. It turned out that the people who are there only I was a prisoner of Auschwitz. "I would like to talk to you" said the cardinal to me, after a short conversation. After a short conversation, I confessed to him that after what I had seen and experienced, faith in the existence of God broke in me. The Jews rightly claimed then that God was helping the executioners. Eight people lay in the barrack, half of them praying, saying, "God, please, help me, let me endure and see my family again." On the second day, many of these praying people were already dead. Poles, Jews and others were harassed, beaten, starved and murdered. Nobody, however, helped them. I told him that our entire commando said that there is no God, that the end of God's love. That's what Jews and Poles said. " Why did God not help these children and how can one further believe in this mythical omnipotence of God?" I asked the cardinal. It was a difficult question for him. However, after a moment he replied that if I witnessed the murder of children and old people, in these extraordinary circumstances, thoughts about the non-existence of God could have been born in me.
I see, however, in Your room on the wall a frame with picture of John Paul II.
I bought this picture and I made bind, because I knew him personally, when he was a cardinal, and I had great affection for our Wojtyla. He was also my namesake. Often, however, they ask me who I owe it to, that I survived the death camp. I tell them the truth. I owe it only to other people. Colleagues, strangers, including the Jew named Marian and, above all, the happiness that surrounds me. I had and still have happiness in life.
How is luck?
I've always helped people, and it comes back to a human being. Helping another man results from upbringing, and I was brought up in a Christian home. My father, Stanisław Tendera, who was a military musician, was a progressive man. He didn’t have time to go to church and deal with religion. He had an ambivalent attitude towards her. I also have one. I have never been a devotee. My mother, who was of Hungarian descent, however, was a believer and gave us the Catholic faith, that is, me and my three siblings. At present, however, I am a rebellious Catholic. I rebelled in Birkenau looking at the murder of children and women in broad daylight. Despite this rebellion, however, I leave a friendship among my neighbors. Returning, however, to my wartime fate, I must say that after staying in Birkenau I came back to the Auschwitz camp, in which I barely withstood. At the end of my stay in Auschwitz, I met two colleagues from a vocational school who had been there before me and told them that I had made the decision that I was going to the wires. One of them told me then that I should go first to a kapo, a functional prisoner from Krakow, Franciszek Nierychło, who was then influential and could put me in the camp kitchen. These influences resulted from the fact that he was a conductor and played with the camp orchestra under the commandant's home of Auschwitz-Birkenau, SS-Obersturmbannführer, Rudolf Höß. Before the war that he played in the orchestra with my father. So when I came to him, he asked me about my father and decided to help me. That's how I got to the camp kitchen.
However, you were not only in Auschwitz and Birkenau, but also in Leitmeritz.
Yes, I was also in the camp at Leitmeritz, where I lived to see the end of the war. On May 7, 1945, a bastard and sadist Lagerkommendant Panike, announced, "I want to tell you that the war is over. Tomorrow you will be able to go to your homelands. You will get a pass, which entitles you to free use of all means of transport". So I got up the next day at five in the morning and together with two Warsaw residents, Zygmunt Meller and Leszek, whose name I don’t remember, we went to the nearest village. After an hour, we came across a large farm. We came up against two Czech workers who lived in the manor with a Czech woman. We explained to them that we were prisoners and we asked if we could take a bath and eat something. They welcomed us nicely and gave us a chance to kill a pig for the occasion. They were there alone, because the German director of this farm had committed suicide a day earlier. But before he shot himself, he also shot his two adult daughters, wife and dog. Near the farm, Germans, mother with two very young daughters, in 18 and 22 years old. Near the farm, Germans lived, a mother with two young, very pretty daughters, aged 18 and 22. On the second day after our arrival, two handsome Germans entered the farm in nicely fitted, green, officer uniforms. However, they did not have distinctions, hats and belt. They had white flags attached to uniforms. Like them, we passed whole groups later. These two Germans began to ask us if we wouldn’t give them civilian clothes. Hitler's entire surroundings in Berlin did similarly. They were all afraid of the Russians. Stalin allowed his soldiers to kill without punishment all the German officers taken prisoner without any judgment. I saw myself later how the Russians met in the street a German officer in uniform. After a moment of conversation with him, they killed him. Stalin also allowed his soldiers to rape the German women.
The soldiers of the Red Army, young guys bulls, you were fasted. They didn’t have a women, so they willingly raped. It was exceptionally good for them, especially since their leader accepted such behavior. As it came to this farmstead to two German officers, this German mother invited them for tea and sandwiches. I was at this meeting. During our conversation, they constantly asked us to help them, because when the Russians come in, they will shoot them right away. Almost they begged us for help, because they knew that the Russians were very close, because from Dresden they were pushing towards the Czech Republic. They both had two children. In spite of the horrors that the Germans were exposing with us in the camps, I felt sorry for them. I am an emotional man. It was possible to get to know it later, even after I defended women at work after the war. I often supervised the managers when they punished women for some stupidity. I told them that they should just imagine that it was their daughter or mother. It usually helped. So, I say to this Czech, Staszek: “Take a horse, harness the car and go to the market and find some clothes. We will change our clothes from camp clothes and give them civilian clothes". “What do you care about the Swabians who have mistreated you and humiliated you in recent years" he replied. That was the difference between the Pole and Czech. A looter was located on the market square near the town and clothes could be easily obtained. So I told him then: “Are you Catholic? Help me and them".
Then I thought differently. until now I am a Catholic, though, as I was saying, a rebellious Catholic. Czech, after my persuasions, soiled the horse and drove together to a two-storey warehouse with lots of clothes and shoes. We took cigarettes and lots of clothes that the Germans would later take out of their clothing in the right size. They were so happy that they wanted to kiss us, one of them said to me: "I do not have a watch, a ring, or documents, because they ordered them to burn. I haven’t nothing, and I would like to thank you somehow. I have a wallet here with images of emperors, which I got from my boss. Take it, please". I ask myself, who was his boss? He replied that he was unfortunately Adolf Hitler. I took this wallet in disbelief and used it for several years. However, I read later that Hitler's secretary claimed that her boss liked to give such presents. In fact, I can have the wallet of Adolf Hitler. I wonder what he would think if he knew that he would once be in the hands of a Pole?!
You are the speaker at the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim. What exactly do you do at this facility?
I tell the Germans there what their grandparents did to Jews and Poles. I sit there all day. Although I am telling my story probably 100 times, sometimes I even get touched. This is exhausting for me. For the last four days I had meetings with the German consul, Dr Werner Köhler, with groups of Germans who wanted to meet an ex-prisoner. Tomorrow a car is coming for me, which will once again take me to a meeting with German excursions, which I will tell for five hours, how and for what I got to the camp and how the Germans treated us. Sometimes it happens that I have to straighten up lies that are deeply rooted in the consciousness of some of my listeners. At one of my lectures, a German told me, for example, that she read in one of the newspapers that concentration camps were built and supervised by Poles". Whom did you close and gasize, Poles or Jews? - she asked me impudently. For God sake, she asked in this way. This is the second time, because a German teacher once asked me a similar question. Thanks to such lectures, as a former prisoner of German camps, I can dismantle the revelations of counterfeiters of history. During my lectures I also always show a picture of Saint. Maksymilian Kolbe. This photo clearly shows what the average prisoner of Auschwitz looked like. Well, he had to have a hat, which he was obliged to take off when he passed near a German. If he did not do it, he got a blow to his face. As he fell, the SS man stood on his neck, crushed his larynx with his shoe and choked him. Then only other prisoners took the body and carried it to be burned. Man's life - more precisely the life of the untermensch, a Pole, a Jew, or a Gypsy, whom the Germans regarded as subhumans - was like a worm's life for SS-men. The prisoner also had a dish hung on the wire, because if he had lost it or if he had stolen it from him, he would not be able to eat soup. When it comes to Maksymilian Kolbe, depicted in the picture, he only lasted eleven weeks. I did not know him because he was in Auschwitz before me. However, I had a friend, Józef Paczyński, who died last month and who watched him. He saw how the Germans were hanging on the rail a few people from the commando for the escape of other inmates. Maximlian Kolbe then asked Schreiber to spare one prisoner who had a family and children. He said that he is a priest and he feels that he will not live long, so he would like to give his life for Franciszek Gajowniczek. All SS-Oberscharführer Oswald Kaduk listened to this, which for some unknown reasons decided to turn Gajowniczek into Maksymilian Kolbe. The German, moreover, was ganz egal who would hang. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life with honor in this way. He gave his life for the second Pole. Few would do as he did.
What do you feel when you see the phrase "Polish death camps" appearing in the German media?
It simply hurts me. They defile my honor. At 94, I still feel needed. As long as I live, as a former prisoner, I will proclaim to everyone the truth. Well, they beat and starved me, hung and murdered my friends, not Poles, but Germans. However, today I don’t have feelings of hatred or revenge towards the Germans. I would like, however, not to let history be falsified. Here I have a huge grudge against the government of Donald Tusk that he didn’t react in a sufficiently strong way to these slanders. The telephone or diplomatic note are in fact insufficient. We only have the support of the Office of Legal Advisors and Attorneys "Lech Obara and Associates" - the Patria Nostra Association. It was, indeed, Obara asked me to take legal action against the editorial board of the German portal ZDF, who used the phrase "Polish extermination camps of Majdanek and Auschwitz". In his opinion, my authority will allow us to oppose this spiral of lies. Until now Polish courts have found no grounds for punishing the media that use these disgraceful terms for Poles. Our courts approach to slandering Poland and Poles in a gently tolerant way. They don’t take seriously Polish law, namely Article 133 of the Criminal Code, which clearly says that "Whoever publicly insults the Nation or the Republic of Poland, is subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years".
Did Your taking the part in the defense of the good name of Poland in court really affect the opposition to this spiral of lies?
My participation in this matter meant that the problem of defamation of Poland and Poles by foreign media became more visible and loud in the media. Some time ago I wrote a letter to the President of the District Court in Krakow, Beata Morawiec, which introduced her that I am a former Auschwitz prisoner, who cares about the good name of the Polish nation and the Poland and because of my age, please prompt review. They wrote to me that they treat this matter as a priority. However, after the hearing was scheduled for February 3, 2016, this date was quickly canceled and the hearing was postponed to April. I was told that there was a mistake in setting the date. They made a mistake and we got a punishment for two and a half months later! What are these officials?! After all, I couldn’t live to this date. Who will then perform in defense of Poland? Government? So far, I haven’t had any support from the government and not only in this matter. Last year I wrote to the then Prime Minister of Poland, Ewa Kopacz, who concluded an agreement with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the basis of which employees of Jewish ghettos created by the Germans in Poland received financial support in the amount of EUR 400 a month. I am the chairman of the Club of Former Prisoners of the Nazi Concentration Camp KL Auschwitz. In addition, we have a union of former prisoners of German camps. So I wrote to Ewa Kopacz asking why Poland joined the efforts to obtain financial support for Jewish workers in the ghetto, who mainly dealt with throwing up corpses and cleaning, and didn’t take up the fight for financial compensation for Poles who were used during the war by the Germans for very hard work. Ewa Kopacz didn’t address my question and my problem in my letter at all. I worked at a German aircraft factory where I carried heavy engines and never received any financial compensation for it. Now I am writing to Prime Minister Beata Szydło with the question why one favors one, but omits the other.
As for Prime Minister Donald Tusk, he completely compromised himself in my eyes. To let know and remember the former prisoners of German concentration camps, I gave him a book written five years ago, a book entitled “Poles and Jews in KL Auschwitz 1940-1945”. Donald Tusk to this day, however, didn’t reply to me and thanked me for this gift. On January 27, 2015, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of KL Auschwitz took place. Among others, the President of Germany Joachim Gauck was those celebrating. So I went to him and took a picture together. Later, I ordered them to be bound and hanged on the wall, because it is extremely friendly. I sent a letter to the President of Germany after that, in which I mentioned that our picture hangs on my wall. The Chancellery of the President of Germany wrote to me at the time. I am saying this to show the difference between Donald Tusk and Joachim Gauck. Even though I am Polish, the German site answers my letters. The Polish prime minister didn’t deign to write back at all. President Bronisław Komorowski even commissioned this to his minister, who wrote me a few warm words and thanked for the book. I also gave my book to the head of SLD, Leszek Miller. He wrote back to me in a beautiful, extensive letter. The president of Germany Christian Wulff also thanked me for the book. However, when I sent it to Kazimierz Kutz to make a movie based on it, just like the Germans do, for example in our scandalous series called “Our Mothers, our fathers”, where they talk about cooperation with Hitler, Mr. Kutz didn’t even thank me for this book. After all, I was a soldier of Captain Pilecki in the Union of Military Organizations. More than four hundred prisoners escaped from Auschwitz thanks to our help. Fifteen of them were shot by Germans, including Bachleda-Curusia, whom I saw shoted in front of the gate. There was a sign with it: "That's how the fugitives end." They shot him when crossing the river. He urged me before his escape that I would go with them. I refused him, however. If I went with them then I would probably share their fate
Is the denigration of Poland in the international arena and the blurring of the Germans' responsibility for the Holocaust, by using the very general term "Nazis" is the conscious act of environments unwilling to Poland?
Yes of course. I have a German colleague in "Die Zeit", who along with my other friend from Warsaw gave me some materials, which clearly show that Konrad Adenauer was appointed a secret "Agency No. 114", one of whose tasks was the deliberate dissemination of false a version of a history about the extermination of Jews, including by popularizing the claim that camps in which Jews were gassed were built by Poles. The creator of this agency was Reinhard Gehlen, German general of the Wermacht from the WW2, who later founded the West German intelligence, whose heir is today's BND. They have even admitted to this: I have a letter in which they think about how to take responsibility for the Holocaust from the Germans and blame it on the Nazis, in which the Poles are to be counted. It was Germany that unleashed an anti-Polish campaign, which, unfortunately, has already brought concrete results. There was a situation in which the director of the FBI himself stated in his speech that the Poles cooperated with the Nazis and were complicit in the Holocaust of the Jews. As I have already read in the press that the President of the United States Barack Obama himself used the term "Polish concentration camps", it upset me. If the US president blames us, it is the end of the world, so I sent him a letter to which I enclosed a copy of the origin of Germany I wished him to win in the next presidential election, because I wanted to show him that I am not his enemy, but I only want to tell him the truth about the Nazi KL Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
January 17, 2017
ZDF returns from Poland to Germany on the shield. Are you satisfied with the court's decision?
Fortunately, the Court of Appeal in the second instance turned out to be wiser and overturned the verdict, issued in the first instance by judge Justyna Sieklicka-Pawlak. For he forced German television to write and personally apologize to me. I have an apology on paper. In addition, ZDF television must submit an apology for one month on its website. We didn’t get everything, however. We have complaints to the Court of Appeal that he has omitted the second demand contained in the lawsuit, which prohibits the German ZDF television and all other entities that write about the future use of the term "Polish concentration camps". My legal advisor, who represents me pro bono for this reason, he applied for supplementing the judgment.
The term "Polish concentration camps" suggests that the Poles managed concentration camps together with the Third Reich. These are scandalous claims. I completely don’t understand what our courts are afraid of. Germany isn’t afraid to accuse us of various shameful things, and ours they our representatives trying to defend the good name of Poland and Poles - as they say in Cracow - like a dog to a hedgehog.
In August 2016, for the fight against the use of the term "Polish extermination camps" by foreign media, you received the highest distinction awarded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Bene Merito badge. Do you feel that your fight was finally appreciated by Poland?
Yes. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Witold Waszczykowski, showed the class by awarding me a medal for strengthening Poland's position in the international arena. He appreciated our efforts, that is, the efforts of former Auschwitz prisoners. During my stay in Warsaw, I thanked him for this in the hands of Minister Dziedziczak.
The previous ruling team completely ignored this problem and even disregarded it. Foreign journalists then spat at the Polish authorities, not doing anything out of our protests.
They accused us of being a Holocaust and our fault. Mr. Tusk and Mr. Sikorski sometimes wrote a magazine, reprimanded and protested, but were usually ignored. I am sure that the verdict of the Court of Appeal and the introduction of the provisions currently prepared by Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and Mr. Jaki, which will punish people using the formulations of "Polish concentration camps" - pour Polish counterfeiters down the head of a bucket of cold water and finally sobering.
April 15, 2017
The Bavarian daily 'Mittelbayerische Zeitung' used the term 'Polish extermination camp' on its website. After the intervention of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Munich, the editors of the German newspaper removed the false wording.
May 18, 2017
The media said that in the German history textbook in the chapter "Germany and the Holocaust" students learning from it can read that in 1938 Jews were deported to Polish camps. This issue was intervened by the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Munich, stating that "Regardless of the withdrawal of the scandalous publication from the trade circulation, we will seek to remove it from schools in Bavaria." The Polish authorities announced that they will check about 70 of the most popular history textbooks in Germany. "I intervened in this matter. Klett publishing will immediately withdraw this book from trade, "wrote the German ambassador in Poland, Rolf Nikel. Ernst Klett Verlag issued an apology. It also stated that "in new textbooks the term "Polish camps" will disappear and the false date will be corrected". The terms "Polish camps" and "Polish ghettos" functioned in history textbooks published by this company since 2009.