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Martyr's death in the concentration camp

Father Ceptowski's

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Father Stefan Ceptowski's testimonial

During the time spent in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, father Karol Wajszczuk demonstrated many noble deeds. One of those deeds was described by father Stefan Ceptowski:

Robotnicy przy pracy"Here is another incident showing the heroic side of father Karol Wajszczuk, parish priest of Drelów in the Podlasie diocese. After a horrible quarantine "hüpfen rollen" and other such murderous activities, in the first days of August 1940, in the Sachsenhausen camp, we were sent to camp work, according to the schedule set by the head of the block, a degenerate. I was assigned to work in one of the worst kommandos in the camp, the so-called "Kanallkommando". One had to walk to work, singing a marching song, in a quick time, four kilometres each way. The way to work and back, done twice a day, added to 16 kilometres daily. The work consisted of unloading freight ships, loaded with coke, coal, brick and cement. At that time, we were unloading coal, which was being brought from the ships on wheelbarrows over a narrow, easily moving plank. Some 100 metres from the bank, a high heap of this coal was formed, by climbing a plank with a full wheelbarrow. This work exceeded my strength and, above that, my organism was very exhausted by the murderous quarantine. On the day I am recalling now, I wheeled three barrows of coal up the heap but all strength leaves me as I am in the middle of the plank with the fourth one. I cry for help, nobody comes, my fainting hands let out the loaded wheelbarrow and it falls into the water. The Kapo of our kommando tells me to jump into the water and get back the wheelbarrow, I look around for help, my brothers, the other Poles are helpless and frightened and the faces of the Germans are merciless. Somebody pushed me and there I am, in the water, sentenced to death. Surprisingly, the SS Kommando führer himself ordered that I should be taken out of the water. I was still fainting when I was moved to the block at noon. The head of the block, seeing the state I was in, did not send me out to work in the afternoon and left me in the block. Over the night, my organism gathered strength enough to stand up for the morning assembly but it was difficult for me to walk to work. The head of the block drives me off to the kommando. My explanations, that I am without strength, are in vain. The camp only has place for the healthy and for the dead, there are no weak and ill. When you will be finished, you will be free from work. As a sign of his good heart, the head of the block gives his brother a piece of rope to hang himself. I know that, if I walk to work, I shall definitely die, if not in the way, then surely the Kapo will not forgive me for letting out that wheelbarrow into the water. There is no way out. I recommend myself to God and I stand in the line for the "Kanallkommando". At that moment, father Karol Wajszczuk comes up to the head of the block. He is a Podlasie priest – of my diocese – aged 53, almost unknown to me, for I am only 30 years old; we became attached to one another in the camp. He asks the head of the block to place him instead of me in this kommando. ”He is already unfit for this work,” says the head of the block. “He is my countryman, I am older but still strong and he is half dead, anyway, he is still young, why should we waste his life, I am less fit to be spared” answers the heroic Polish priest. On hearing this all, I cry loudly that I do not agree to this substitution, I shall go myself, I will not let him go in my place. Here, I must explain that those who walked wore special clogs with only the fingers covered. The head of the block, on hearing our quarrel, explained that it did not matter to him who would go. I had the shoes on, so I started walking. At this moment, father Wajszczuk immediately catches me, turns me over, I do not have the strength to defend myself. He takes off my shoes and puts them on. The shoes turn out to be too small, the head of the block urges on, so father Wajszczuk, limping because of the small shoes, runs after the kommando, which has already left. He went, saving me from death, but fell in death’s trap himself, for he could not move properly because of the tight shoes. They beat him strongly, for he had injured his feet during work. He was afterwards dismissed from this work, as he was unable to do it. I was no called for anymore and not searched for. As a result of the sores on his feet, father Wajszczuk got phlegmon and, as an invalid, unable to work, he was later sent to a gas chamber, from the camp in Dachau, in 1942. Honour to the memory of the priest and hero. Lord, have mercy on him!”

On the 4th of May 1955, father Stefan Ceptowski wrote about the “martyr-priest, father Karol Wajszczuk” in an article in the “Słowo Powszechne”. After that, he also told the story of father Karol sacrificing his life for the life of another priest to the parish folk in the Drelów parish church, in the presence of Bishop Jan Mazur.


Written by: dr. Feliks Olesiejuk 
"Wspomnienie o księdzu  Karolu Leonardzie Wajszczuku 1887-1942"

in Rocznik Międzyrzecki - Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk 
w Międzyrzecu Podlaskim -  1987
Excerpts prepared by: Paweł Stefaniuk, assisted by Waldemar J. Wajszczuk
Translated by: Kamila Wajszczuk