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Maximilian Kolbe: Saint of Auschwitz by…

Maximilian Kolbe: Saint of Auschwitz

by Elaine Murray Stone

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Maximilian Kolbe Saint of Auschwitz - Elaine Murray Stone ****

I have always enjoyed true stories about the second world war and in particular the atrocities that were encountered in the death camps. Obviously the most infamous of these was Auschwitz, but I never realised that there was a man who was later proclaimed a Saint that perished at the camp.

Maximilian Kolbe was born in late 19th Century Poland and started off life a fairly unruly child who would often need ‘correcting’ by his parents. However, one day he has a vision of the Virgin Mary:

“That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.”

This totally changes his life and the young Kolbe settles into his studies and eventually enters into the Franciscan friar hood, here he really begins to excel and decided to help spread his word of God via the media of newspaper and radio. Unsatisfied with just working in his local area he even started a Franciscan Order in Japan, but with the inevitable outbreak of the Second World War, and many bouts of ill health he is forced back to Poland. During those dangerous times it was only a matter of time before he was noticed by the Nazi’s and eventually became imprisoned in Auschwitz. Here he finally fulfilled his calling as a martyr and chose to replace a prisoner condemned to death by starving in a locked basement. I am a far from religious person, but when you read of people like Kolbe who made the ultimate sacrifice it has to make you stop and think twice.

Remove the overly religious connotations and you are left with a book that is a well written, if somewhat brief overview of a man who lived and died in a remarkable way. As with most of these books, they are handy for someone like me, who wants to learn a little about a lot.
My only negative is that no matter what Kolbe may have failed at (and he did fail at a few things) these are very much glossed over. I know the book was written as part of a religious series but the author gave a very one sided approach to his deeds, I would have liked a far more rounded approach to the man and his life. ( )
  Bridgey | Dec 23, 2016 |
Your contribution of this book to the collection whether by Virtual lending or by outright donation to the collection--would be most appreciated!
  societystf | Apr 6, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809166372, Paperback)

Based on first-hand information. Here is the first English biography for middle graders on Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan who, at Auschwitz, offered himself in exchange for the life of a man with two children. The biography covers Kolbe's early life, his work as a journalist, and his founding of Niepokalanow, the world's largest friary. Kolbe's act of love and faith teaches young readers important lessons that Christianity means more than just going to church, that the Holocaust actually happened, and that saints can be as real and modern as the person standing next to you in line. For first-hand research, the author traveled to Poland to visit where Kolbe lived and to interview people who actually knew him, including his cousin, his secretary, and one of his students. In addition, the foreword is by Ted Wojtkowski, a fellow camp prisoner and now a well-known Polish American who was standing close to Kolbe when he made his offer of self-sacrifice. Kolbe! 's story is ideal for children of Polish descent, parochial schools, parish libraries, classes in cultural diversity, and classes on World War II or the Holocaust. And, while written simply enough for children, this book will move all readers showing just how much the human spirit can achieve.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:35 -0400)

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