Teresa Wontor-Cichy - Voices of Memory 14. The Religious Life of Christian Prisoners in KL Auschwitz

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“Voices of Memory 14“ is dedicated to the Christian prisoners in KL Auschwitz. Among 400 thousand prisoners oficially registered in the camp there were many people looking for spiritual support, ultimately finding comfort in the religious practise.

There were many religious groups imprisoned in KL Auschwitz, including Christians of many denominations, such as Roman and Greek Catholics, as well as Jehova‘s Witnesses, and others.

The publication includes a wide range of issues that present an accurate depiction of conspiratorial Christian life in the camp. In Auschwitz, the most important, and at the same time the most common manifestation of Christian religiosity was a prayer – because of its very individual and intimate nature. But there were also manifestations of sacramental life, such as celebraton of Mass, confession, marriage, and even baptism.

These forms of religious practise were officially forbidden by the camp authorities, and if revealed – punished severely, including death sentence. The amazing manifestation of Christian religiosity was upholding of Christmas tradition by the prisoners. The examples of that phenomenon, such as singing of Christmas carols and spending Christmas Eve together in community, can be also found in publication.

Another aspect of religiosity to point out is the illegal acqusition of liturgical items. These items, such as prayer books, were previously confiscated from the victims by the camp authorities. The prisoners employed at sorting risked their lives to carry them into the camp and pass them on to others, who later used these items in secret. Publication also focuses on problem of the illegal manufacture of religious objects, as well as religious art and the involvement of the inhabitants of the Oswiecim Area in aiding prisoners.

Despite the fact that manifestations of religiosity were punished, many prisoners secretly practised their faith. The role of religion and beliefs in everyday prisoners life should not be underestimated. Faith helped prisoners to endure the most difficult moments, giving them a moral support, and aided in the spiritual consolidation of the prisoners community.

Publication is enriched with interesting selected sources such as prisoners‘ accounts describing illegal participation in Mass, and also documents, photographs and copies of religious drawings by prisoners.

Technical data

ISBN 978-83-7704-352-3
Year of publication 2022
Number of pages 147
Weight 17,5x25
Type of cover softcover
Dimensions 17,5x25

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