Friday, June 30, 2006

Spare those who have wives and children (Eleven Nuns)

In June, 1941, the Soviet-controlled village of Nowogrodek fell into the hands of the Nazis. The most immediate act of the Nazis was to take the Jews and kill them. The twelve Sisters of the Holy Family were allowed to put their religious habits on, since they were not allowed to do so during the Soviet occupation of the village. They were once again allowed to enter their convent, which had been bombed by the Soviets. But the killings of the Jews never stopped in Nowogrodek. As the Jews were being slaughtered in the center of the town, a band played a Johann Strauss’ waltz. Next to the Jews, the Communist sympathizers were killed.

In July 1943, life became increasing difficult and violence resumed. Arrests followed. Because of their sympathies and work amongst those detained and sentenced to death, the sisters had come to the attention of the Gestapo.

Situations worsened on July 25, 1943, when a group of men were arrested by the Gestapo. The prisoners were sentenced to die. The sisters all expressed their desires to give their lives for the safety of the men. Together, they prayed, “O God, if sacrifice of life is needed, accept it from us who are free from family obligations. Spare those who have wives and children.” Almost immediately, the Nazis changed their lans and sent the prisoners to concentration camps, and the prayers of the nuns were accepted. When the life of the rector was threatened, the Sisters renewed their offering saying, “There is a greater need for a priest on this earth than for us. We pray that God will take us in his place, if sacrifice of life is needed.”

On July 31, a Nazi civilian approached Mother Stella, the superior of the community, and told her that the nuns were to report to the comissar’s office. Mother Stella feared the worse, but she and her sisters reported to the office, with the exception of Sr. Malgorzata, who chose to stay with the priest and pray. After going to the office, the nuns were seen no more.

A few days after the disappearance of the nuns, Sr. Malgorzata dressed in civilian clothing and went to the woods, where she saw that digging had gone recently. There, she saw her eleven sisters, all shot to death. Their bodies were exhumed after the war.

Finally, because of some witnesses, what happened to the sisters was known. The sisters, after reporting to the barracks, were kept in a small room. That night, they were loaded into a truck and brought to the woods. But because of the shepherds staying that night, the Nazis went back and kept the nuns in the basement of the church and waited for the shepherds to leave. When they have left, the Nazis once again brought the sisters to the woods and shot them to death nearby a grave. It was said that on the next day, a drunk soldier kept repeating, “You should have seen how they went, those sisters.”


Post a Comment

<< Home