Today is the Memorial of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest who heroically died at Auschwitz in 1941 after offering himself as a substitute for a young married man with children. His death, and those of millions of others were, in part, the result of the fearful silence by the German people in the face of Nazi evil. The truth of this was attested to by Martin Niemoller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. His words cry out to us even today.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.