- Shavelings in Death Camps: A Polish Priest’s Memoir of Imprisonment by the Nazis, 1939-1945 by Fr Henryk Maria Malak, Bozenna J. Tucker (Translator), Thomas R. Tucker (Translator) – Paperback, 410 pages. Published August 21st 2012 by McFarland & Company. Edition Language: English.
No Valid Polarity in the Nazi Treatment of Jews and Non-Jews, or Between Death Camps and Concentration Camps. Poles Gassed at Dachau. High Concentration Camp Mortality Rate (86%)
This book presents much seldom-known or appreciated information. I focus on some issues of lasting relevance.
The reader, not surprisingly accustomed to think only of Jews as victims of the Nazis, is in for a shock reading this moving work. The author describes his experiences in the 1939 war, the early German terror, his incarceration in Nazi concentration camps such as Stutthof, Sachsenhausen, and Dachau, and his near-miraculous survival of these frightful experiences.
WARNING: The German cruelties described in this book are revolting, even in comparison with other books on this subject, and may be upsetting to sensitive individuals. As for the title, the term shaveling refers to the shaving of part of the crown of the incarcerated priest’s head.
WHAT GETS AROUND COMES AROUND: 1939 GERMAN TERROR BOMBING AND STRAFING SET A PRECEDENT FOR THE ALLIED BOMBING OF GERMANY
Before WWII, author Father Malak was stationed in Inowroclaw, in the area that would later be directly annexed to the Third Reich, complete with an eventual systematic closing of churches and exile of Polish priests. (p. 222). In common with many other eyewitnesses, Fr. Malak recounted the 1939 Luftwaffe bombing of churches with parishioners inside (p. 13) and the wanton Luftwaffe strafing of columns of fleeing, defenseless civilians. (pp. 14). The author testified of these aerial German military atrocities, notably those that occurred on the road between Bydgoszcz and Inowroclaw.
DO NOT BLAME CHRISTIANITY FOR THE HOLOCAUST
The standard narrative today often tries subtle ways of connecting Christianity to Nazism and the Holocaust. In contrast, the author had an astute grasp of the political situation. He noted that Nazism, Fascism, and Communism all had elevated the state to a deity, and they all had trampled the individual human being, who was created in God’s image and likeness. (p. 93).
The anti-Semitic aspects of Nazism have overshadowed the anti-Christian aspects of Nazism. The author emphasized the verbalized hatred of the Nazis for Catholic priests, not only as Poles, but also specifically as bearers of Christianity. (e. g, p. 94). The Nazis confiscated the local monastery library and burned all the books in incinerators–not only Polish-language books but also German-language ones–because their motivations had been anti-Christian as well as Polonophobic. (p. 30). Nazi show trials against priests slandered them as sexual deviants (p. 396)–something very much part of the cultural Marxist and LEWAK media anti-Christian propaganda today.
In the concentration camps, the Germans purposely chose German kapos (capos) from a criminal or Communist background to rule over and torment the priests. The criminals had an instinctive hatred for priests because the latter represented God’s law that the criminals had long flouted. The hatred of Communists towards religion and the religious needs no comment.
Soon after conquering Poland, the Germans tried to make Volksdeutsche out of some of the Polish priests. The Germans variously appealed to such things as their German-sounding names, their partial German ancestry, their familiarity with German culture, their previous (involuntary) service in Kaiser’s army, etc. The German authorities utterly failed. (pp. 68-70).
In late 1941, the Nazi German officials at Dachau tried to induce the Polish Catholic priests to declare themselves German in exchange for bribes (e. g, better provisions). The Poles refused. (p. 396).
CONTRARY TO POPULAR MISCONCEPTION, THE NAZIS DID NOT CONSISTENTLY TREAT JEWS WORSE THAN NON-JEWS
Fr. Malak’s experiences do not support the nowadays-customary Holocaust-related dichotomy of the sufferings of Jews and Poles. He found that, in the concentration camps, Jews were sometimes treated worse than Poles, while, at other times, Poles were treated as bad as the Jews. (e. g, pp. 114-115, 125, 190, 192). Jewish prisoners, better fed then Poles, staffed the Dachau crematorium.
THE UNFOLDING EVENTS
The Germans performed horrific experiments on the Polish priests at Dachau. (pp. 271-on). They experimented with malarial infections, injections of phlegmon, survivorship in ice-cold water, etc.
Fr. Malak kept a diary of what turned out to be the last several months of the European part of WWII. After the fall of the Soviet-betrayed Warsaw Uprising in 1944, some Poles from Warsaw were imprisoned at Dachau. (p. 347). The Germans had broken the terms of the Polish surrender.
BETTER SURVIVORSHIP THAN IN EXTERMINATION CAMPS—BUT NOT BY MUCH
The survival rate of Polish priests, at Dachau, was very low. Out of a transport of 500 that arrived at the relatively late date of October 30, 1941, only 70 were still alive on the day of liberation. (p. 397). This is an 86% morality rate which, though not quite the reputed 100% mortality rate of Jews sent to the extermination camps, was close enough. [Remember, in many of the so-termed extermination camps, some Jews were diverted to forced labor. And quite a few Jews were diverted to forced labor without being sent to the death camps at all.]
In January 1942, an additional 300 Polish priests were dispatched to the gas chambers of Dachau. (p. 263). This reminds us, once again, that mass gassings were not reserved exclusively for Jews as part of the Shoah. It also reminds us that gas chambers were not only found in the so-termed extermination camps. These facts further underscore the arbitrariness of any dualism between death camps and “ordinary” concentration camps.
A MEASURE OF FRONTIER JUSTICE
As the Third Reich was collapsing, Heinrich Himmler gave an order that all the prisoners of Dachau be slain. (pp. 365-366). However, American troops arrived first, and liberated the camp. There were many revenge killings of kapos and SS men. The priests condemned this vendetta.
- Source: GoodReads.com , December 3, 2018
Published with the author’s permission.
Title image: „Shavelings in Death Camps: A Polish Priest’s Memoir of Imprisonment by the Nazis, 1939-1945” by Fr Henryk Maria Malak, part of the cover / selected by wg.pco