“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”
In July 1941, a political prisoner escaped from Auschwitz. As punishment, ten other prisoners were chosen by the Nazis to be killed in a starvation bunker. One of these men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, began lamenting what his death would mean for his wife and children. Upon hearing these cries, another prisoner, a Franciscan friar named Maksymilian Kolbe—who had run afoul of the Nazis after sheltering refugees, including hundreds of Jews, at his friary—volunteered to take Gajowniczek’s place and was sent to the starvation bunker in his stead. In the bunker, Kolbe became the leader of those awaiting death, whom he was often seen consoling and leading in prayers and hymns. Two weeks later, only four of the men were still alive, and Kolbe alone was conscious. The Nazis killed them all; Kolbe was seen calmly giving his arm to the executioner who injected him with carbolic acid. The memory of Kolbe’s courage and selflessness lived on in those who survived the Golgotha of Auschwitz, including Franciszek Gajowniczek, and Kolbe was canonized by John Paul II in 1982.
Christopher Hitchens alludes to Kolbe in his careless and dishonest polemic god [sic] is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. ...