Today's post is, I confess, less about Blessed Franciszek, who was taken into the woods and shot to death by Nazi guards of the Stutthof concentration camp than it is about the Nazi occupation itself. Franciszek was killed less than two weeks after his forty-seventh birthday. He had been a parish priest in Gdansk, and had also served as chaplain of the postal and railway workers. I didn't know that industries (or maybe unions?) had their own chaplains, but he apparently was one.
The invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939. Father Franciszek was arrested that day, a fact which speaks well of Nazi efficiency if not justice. The following day, thirty-four people between the ages of two and seventy-six were executed: eighteen by firing squad, eight gunned down en masse, and eight burned alive. I don't know how many people died in between, but three months later, thirty-eight postal workers were shot, presumably for being postal workers. There are hundreds of pages on microfilm, recording the incarceration and execution of thousands of people; among the brief records I've looked at, there are a surprising number of railway and postal workers murdered in Stutthof.
Stutthof was the first concentration camp established by Nazi Germany outside German borders. Estimates of the number of people killed are complicated by not knowing how many were murdered without even being recorded and processed into the camps. However, about 127,000 were registered in the camp, of whom about 85,000 were murdered.
Today, the Stutthof camp and narrow gauge railroad are a memorial museum. In accordance with Polish law, children under thirteen are not permitted to visit.