An amazing saga, via Denver Catholic:
Witold Engel was living his Catholic faith at the age of nine years old in a place no one could ever imagine — Auschwitz concentration camp.
As a prisoner during the Holocaust, Witold watched as a priest who had smuggled in a rosary was beaten to death by an S.S. soldier in the camp. A Jewish man close to the scene yelled at the S.S. man to put the dying priest out of his misery. The soldier shot them both.
Witold couldn’t take it anymore.
“I stood up and I said to him, ‘Shame on you. You should turn to God instead of butchering people here.’
“He looked at me and said, ‘You Polish cockroach. I’ll crush you with my boot.’” Right when the soldier took out his gun to kill Witold, another soldier came to bring the S.S. man to the commandant.“I was safe,” said Witold. “I guess the Lord was with me.”
The now-retired deacon shared his incredible story of survival with the Denver Catholic, recounting his time in Siberia, Auschwitz and Dachau — and the calling he felt from God despite the evil that consumed his childhood.
Witold was born in Stryj, Poland. He was just three years old when his family was captured by Russian soldiers and taken to Siberia as political prisoners.
Witold and his mother, father and older sister, who was five, journeyed by train for two weeks with their fellow captives to a camp near the North Pole.
The family survived for five years in horrible conditions, overcoming hot summers and below-freezing winters, abusive captors, and insufficient food. His mother even gave birth to a son during their time in captivity.
The Engels encountered kindness in a man with a wagon and a horse, who tied rags on the wagon’s wheels and snuck into the living quarters at night.
During one of those visits, the man told the Engels, “I’m going to help you escape.”
That’s just the beginning. You have to read the whole story.