Father Maximilian Kolbe makes a visit to the Nazis to protest the unjust censorship of his magazine, hoping they will grant them a permit.
Note: This is part of a serial fiction series focusing on the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, following the life of a fictional character as he encounters the saint. New chapters are released every Sunday! For previous chapter(s), click here.
On the train to Warsaw tensions were high.
Piotr didn’t know what to expect as accompanied Father Maximilian on his mission. Father was intent on protesting the restrictions placed on the Franciscans’ apostolate and begging the Gestapo to let them print even one magazine to revive the faith of Poland.
It was a risky move.
The Nazis were not known for their merciful attitude, and it was possible that Father Maximilian’s request could backfire on the community. More restrictions could be placed on them or, even worse, they could be sent away to a labor camp.
Piotr wasn’t sure what these “labor camps” were all about. He heard rumors about them, but the Nazis were always there to put their spin on it, denying the reality that anyone who was sent to these camps never came back.
The Nazis stressed that everything they did was for family, community, and the protection of the nation. The word “hope” was always tied to Hitler and “safety” was a prime concern, safety for the German people.
It made Piotr sick every time he saw a Nazi propaganda poster that urged everyone to aid in the struggle for a “New Germany” and how “Europe Is Moving Forward” with the Nazis in charge. Other posters that he saw on the way to Warsaw glorified Hitler with the words, “One Nation, One Empire, One Leader.” Even worse was a poster that had a beautiful, loving family in it, protected by the wings of an eagle. The text of the poster read, “The NSDAP protects the people.”
However bad those posters were, the worst poster Piotr saw was against the Jewish people. It read, “Jews are lice.”
This was what they were up against. How could they possibly push pass this propaganda and publish their own magazine at a time like this, when the Nazis controlled every form of media?
The train came to a stop and everyone was ushered out, watched closely by Nazi soldiers.
Piotr nervously whispered to Father Maximilian, “Father, how are we going to convince the Nazis? What is your plan?”
Father Maximilian smiled back at Piotr and said, “We will ask politely, but firmly! They have no reason to keep us from publishing a religious magazine.”
Piotr still didn’t understand how Father Maximilian could keep such a cheery attitude. They were going into the lions’ den and he was going to combat the enemy with politeness?
It didn’t make any sense to Piotr.
Father Maximilian approached a Nazi soldier and asked him, “Where is the office for the Board of People’s Education and Propaganda”?
The Nazi soldier looked strangely at this humble religious, but silently motioned down the street and started walking.
The two followed the soldier and was surprised to see the streets of Warsaw relatively empty. Few people were out and those who were, looked extremely nervous. Each time someone reached their home or apartment, they raced inside and locked the door behind them.
Fear reigned in Warsaw.
They reached the building and were led through a series of hallways to the office. Nazi soldiers and officers were everywhere and Piotr grew even more anxious about the situation.
Would they ever get out?
Yet, Father Maximilian was cool and collected, not nervous at all, but even acting like a little child, looking at everything they passed and keeping a cheery disposition.
The Nazi soldier knocked on the office door and they all walked in to see a Nazi officer sitting at his desk. The officer was introduced as Dr. Grundmann, and he was the director of the Warsaw District board of propaganda.
Father Maximilian spoke gently, “Dr. Grundmann, I come to you today to beg your mercy upon our poor, little magazine. We are seeking a permit to print just a single edition of it.”
Dr. Grundmann stroked his chin and said abruptly, “No!”
Father Maximilian continued, “I assure you, we are not a political organization. We are humble religious and are not here to stir any trouble.”
Again Dr. Grundmann said, “No! I have heard of you and many people trust you. You will use the magazine to turn them against the Third Reich! Your permit is DENIED!”
Piotr’s anxiety at this moment was unbearable. What is Father Maximilian doing? He is going to get us into even bigger trouble!
Still, Father Maximilian persisted.
“Our magazine, The Knight of the Immaculata is motivated only by love. Politics has never entered our goals, nor ever will as the this paper will attest.”
Father Maximilian passed a piece of paper to Dr. Grundmann. He read it silently to himself and sat back into his chair, stroking his chin in thought.
The silence was difficult to endure as Piotr waited to see what this Nazi officer would say.
Dr. Grundmann signaled to his aide and started writing on a piece of paper. He finished writing and handed the paper to Father Maximilian.
“Your permit is granted. We will allow you to print one and only one edition of your magazine. If we find out that you are printing information against the Third Reich, all of you will be under arrest. Now leave!”
As Piotr and Father Maximilian left the building, they were both overjoyed and smiled from ear to ear.
“Father, how did you do it? I couldn’t believe how you could convince a Nazi officer to let us print our magazine! It is a miracle!”
“Yes, Piotr, it is a miracle! Before we went in there I prayed to the Immaculata and she gave me the confidence I needed. I didn’t know if it would work, but I knew Our Lady would protect us.”
They boarded the train back to Niepokalanów, but in their joy, they didn’t see what followed them. After they had left, Dr. Grundmann ordered a pair of Nazi spies to follow them and keep an eye on them, with orders to apprehend them the moment they did something against the Third Reich.
Come back next Sunday for the next chapter!