Maximilian Kolbe was a Catholic priest, who was put in a Nazi concentration camp for his faith.
On May 28, 1941, he was transferred to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.
One day a man in Kolbe’s block escaped. All of the men from that block were brought out into the hot sun and made to stand there all day with no food or drink.
At the end of the day, the man that had escaped was not found. So the Nazi commandant told the prisoners that ten men would be selected to die in the starvation cell in place of the one that had escaped.
One man, a polish sergeant was one of those selected.
He begged to be spared because he was worried that his family would not be able to survive without him.
As he was pleading with the commandant, Maximilian Kolbe silently stepped forward and stood before the commandant.
The commandant turned to him and asked him what he wanted.
Kolbe pointed to the polish sergeant and said,
"I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children."
The commandant stood silent for a moment in disbelief. He then allowed the sergeant to go back to his place in the ranks and Kolbe took his place in the starvation bunker.
In the starvation bunker, the guards who removed the bodies of those who had died, were used to the sounds of cursing and screaming. However when Kolbe and the nine others were put in the bunker, all they could hear was the sounds of Kolbe and his companions in the bunker singing hymns and praying.
When Kolbe couldn’t speak any longer due to hunger and lack of energy, he would whisper his prayers.
After two weeks, the cell had to be cleared out for more prisoners to be thrown in.
Only four prisoners were left alive by then and Kolbe was one of them. So the guards came in and gave each a lethal injection.
On August 14, 1941, Kolbe paid the ultimate price for following the call of his Master – “to take up his Cross and follow him.”
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