'It's as if history itself has been erased,' says Polish bishops' spokesman

The Polish Catholic Church has called for a fitting tribute to hundreds of its priests who died during World War II at the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau.

“Dachau was the main camp for priests from all over Europe, and over half came from Poland,” said Mgr Józef Kloch, spokesman for the Polish bishops’ conference.

“We want to highlight this as we remember the camp’s liberation by the US Army, paying tribute to those who died, as well as to their spiritual achievements in such appalling conditions,” he explained.

Mgr Kloch spoke as plans were underway for the observance of the 70th anniversary of Dachau’s liberation by Allied forces on April 29. About 800 priests and 30 bishops from Poland were expected to attend the event near Munich in southern Germany.

Many priests who survived Dachau were harassed as suspected American spies by the secret police when they returned home after the war to Communist-ruled Poland, Mgr Kloch told the US Catholic News Service.

Despite the sufferings of the Polish clergy, their story remained little known and Mgr Kloch said he was shocked to discover that virtually all of Dachau’s buildings had since been demolished.

“Unlike at Auschwitz, where much still remains, there’s now hardly any trace of Dachau at all. It’s as if history itself has been erased there,” he said.