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Alfred Stanke: a German monk who saved hundreds


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#1 Skipper

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 12:00 PM

Alfred Stanke, the Franciscan of Bourges: monk, and German medical orderly, helped and saved hundreds who were tortured during Wold War II in France.
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Born Joseph Staniszewski, 25 October 1904 in Ohra, near Dantzig - now Gdańsk - in Poland, he enters the Franciscan Order in 1920. He is arrested by the Nazis with other monks in 1936, and impressed in the German army after Germany invaded Poland. He is sent to France, in Bourges jail, in 1940.

There he does everything to help the prisoners tortured by the Gestapo. He heals them the best he can, comforts them so they do not lose hope. He manages to avoid internment of many resistance fighters, helps prisoners communicate with the outside world and get freed. In 1944 he is transferred to Dijon and keeps on helping prisoners. Arrested a few months later, he is freed from the US jails thanks to the French people he helped.

After the war, he works for the reconciliation between France and Germany. Alfred Stanke has tragically died on 23 September 1975 and is buried near Bourges, in Saint-Doulchard cemetry. His action during the war is depicted in a book and a famous movie.
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#2 Za Rodinu

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 12:47 PM

St. Maximilian Kolbe
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Maximilian Kolbe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

...When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he knew that the friary would be seized, and sent most of the friars home. He was imprisoned briefly and then released, and returned to the friary, where he and the other friars sheltered 3000 Poles and 1500 Jews, and continued to publish a newspaper encouraging its readers.


In May 1941 the friary was closed down and Maximilian and four companions were taken to Auschwitz, where they worked with the other prisoners, chiefly at carrying logs. Maximilian carried on his priestly work surreptitiously, hearing confessions in unlikely places and celebrating the Lord's Supper with bread and wine smuggled in for that purpose.
In order to discourage escapes, the camp had a rule that if a man escaped, ten men would be killed in retaliation. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe's bunker escaped. The remaining men of the bunker were led out and ten were selected, including a Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek. When he uttered a cry of dismay, Maximilian stepped forward and said, "I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children." The officer had more use for a young worker than for an old one, and was happy to make the exchange. The ten men were placed in a large cell and left there to starve. Maximilian encouraged the others with prayers, psalms, and meditations on the Passion of Christ. After two weeks, only four were alive, and only Maximilian was fully conscious. The four were killed with injections of carbolic acid on 14 August 1941.

Franciszek Gajowniczek
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He died on March 13, 1995, at Brzeg in Poland, 95 years old - and 53 years after Kolbe had saved him. But he was never to forget the ragged monk. After his release from Auschwitz, Gajowniczek spent the next five decades paying homage to Father Kolbe, honoring the man who died on his behalf.

In December 1994, the 94-year-old Pole visited St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church of Houston. His translator on that trip, Chaplain Thaddeus Horbowy, said: "He told me that as long as he . . . has breath in his lungs, he would consider it his duty to tell people about the heroic act of love by Maximilian Kolbe."

Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra...


#3 Skipper

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 01:06 PM

The reason I like Stanke is because he was universally recognized as a good man by both the Germans, the French and his religious hierachy. He even got his own stamp and stayed in France after the war. He died of a horrible death when his Abbey in Alsace burnt down in the seventies.

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#4 Za Rodinu

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 05:17 PM

Far from me trying to enter a contest of who is the better martyr! One has to be a complete monster to put other sentient beings through this:

During the time in the cell he led the men in songs and prayer. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe and three others were still alive. Finally he was murdered with an injection of carbolic acid.


And there are people who would like to see these beasts win the war :rolleyes:

Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra...


#5 Skipper

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 06:01 PM

Uhh, This thread is not about Martyrs, it's about Stanke who served in the German army and He was neither arrested nor tortured.
He was just a good man and could not accept that men tortured other men and spent the war trying to save lives. He died 30 years after the war.

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#6 macrusk

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 04:49 AM

Thanks for the information on both men. It is always inspiring to read about people who strive for the best and embody the best of humanity in the most inhumane of circumstances.
Regards, Michelle

Oliver Goldsmith, "I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines." :flag_canada_ww2: :flag_canada: :flag_uk:
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#7 Skipper

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 10:15 AM

Well said Michelle. I found Stanke's bibiography at a flee market last week. He took great risks to bring comfort to those he guarded.

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#8 bigfun

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 07:21 PM

Thanks for this Skipper. I'm going to have to look for his biography.

Michelle, my sentiments exactly.
Scott :flag_USA_ww2: :flag_netherlands:

#9 Skipper

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 09:43 PM

there is a great link in English on my first post Bigfun.

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#10 Skipper

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 08:15 PM

One of the men Stanke helped was Lt Colonel Haegelen, a famous WWI ace and WWI 1940 veteran who had joined the Resistance and had been arrested by the Gestapo in 1943.

Claude Marcel Haegelen - The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War I

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#11 bigfun

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 08:36 PM

got it!!
Thanks buddy!
Scott :flag_USA_ww2: :flag_netherlands:




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