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Rescuing Jews by Polish clergy during the Holocaust

According to research to be presented at KUL on March 23, on the eve of the National Day of Remembrance of Poles who Rescued Jews under German occupation, rescue activities on behalf of Jews were carried out by nearly 100 religious orders in more than 500 institutions and more than 700 diocesan priests in at least 580 towns and cities throughout occupied Poland during the Holocaust. The role of the Polish clergy in saving Jews will be discussed by scholars from Poland and Israel, as well as by Ryszard Tyndorf, author of the new publication "Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy."

The exact number of Jews who benefited from the help of the Polish Catholic clergy is difficult to estimate, but according to published analyses, it is likely to be thousands.



The Abraham J. Heschel Center for Catholic-Jewish Relations at KUL invites you to a presentation of a two-volume monograph by Ryszard Tyndorf. The author lives in Canada and for many years has dealt with issues concerning the attitudes of Catholic Church people toward Jews. The meeting, scheduled for March 23 at 11 a.m., will begin with a scholarly conference, "Rescuing the Doomed to Non-Existence. Assistance given to Jews by priests and nuns during the Holocaust in occupied Poland". Speakers will include Prof. Limore Yagil of the Institute of Holocaust at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, who also teaches at the Sorbonne in Paris, and the director of the World War II Museum in Gdansk, Dr. Grzegorz Berendt, who will discuss the state of research on rescuing Jews in Poland. Sebastian Piątkowski, Ph.D., of the State Archives in Radom, will talk about archival materials on the subject, which were collected in the General Government.

The monograph "Wartime Rescue of Jews by the Polish Catholic Clergy", published by the KUL Publishing House, will be presented by prof. Wacław Wierzbieniec from the University of Rzeszów. This historian specializes in the history and culture of Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries in Poland, the history of the Catholic Church in the 20th century, and in the subject of charity and philanthropy in social life. Ryszard Tyndorf, the author of the book, will also be a special guest of the meeting.

The book is a study of rescue efforts for Jews carried out by the Catholic Church and its clergy in German-occupied Poland during World War II. The study is based primarily on the testimonies of Jewish survivors and Poles who helped them, supplemented by Church documentation. The publication shows that various forms of assistance to Jews were provided by 66 female orders in around 450 establishments (mainly monasteries), 25 male orders in around 85 establishments, and more than 700 diocesan priests in at least 580 locations in Nazi-occupied Poland.

This is the first English-language monograph to include a review of the extensive Polish-language literature on the subject. As such, it is an important addition to the body of scholarly work and calls for a reassessment of the historical record of the rescue of the Polish Catholic Church at a time when its own clergy was subjected to persecution that no other clergy in occupied Europe experienced, and the mandatory punishment for helping Jews in occupied Poland was death.

National Day of Remembrance of Poles Saving Jews under German occupation falls on March 24, the anniversary of the death of the Ulma family of Markowa, who were executed by German gendarmes for hiding Jews. The day honors all Polish citizens - regardless of nationality - who helped Jews subjected to genocidal extermination by German occupiers.