By Patrick B. Craine
ROME, September 29, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The late Polish midwife Stanislawa Leszczynska will be honoured in a display at the 5th World Prayer Congress for Life in Rome next month for her heroic efforts in saving hundreds of newborn babies from a brutal end at Auschwitz.
Before she arrived at the camp in April 1943, all the newborns of prisoners in the infamous Nazi concentration camp were drowned and allowed to be ripped apart by rats before his or her mother’s eyes.
But, as Matthew M. Anger reports in his article ‘Midwife at Auschwitz’, Leszczynska refused to carry out the Germans’ order to kill the babies – even opposing the infamous Dr. Mengele – and, amazingly, was allowed to carry on unimpeded.
During her time at Auschwitz, Leszczynska delivered over 3,000 babies. Half of those were murdered and another thousand died from the horrible conditions in the camp. But those with blond hair and blue eyes, about 500, were sent to be raised as Germans, and another 30 survived the camp.
In her ‘Raport from Auschwitz,’ Leszczynska described how the pregnant women were plagued with intense hunger and extreme cold, and faced a severe lack of medicine and water. She and others had to work day and night to keep away the rats, which would gnaw off the noses, ears, fingers, and feet of the sick. “Rats with their diet of human flesh grew to sizes of large cats,” she said.
During Leszczynska’s entire time at the camp, no mother or baby died under her care. Asked by her supervising doctor to report on the death rate, she reported this fact to his astonishment. “Lagerarzt looked at me in disbelief,” she recounts. “Even the most sophisticated German clinics at universities, he said, could not claim such a success rate.”
While she suggested in her ‘Raport’ that "the emaciated organisms were too barren a medium for bacteria,” Anger reports that her children and other inmates called it a miracle.
Leszczynska was able to use a secret tattoo under the newborns’ armpit to help many of the families reunite after the war. “As long as a newborn was together with the mother, motherhood itself created a ray of hope. Separation with the newborn was overwhelming,” she said. “The thought of a possibility of future reunion with their children helped many women go through this ordeal.”
The cause for Leszczynska’s beatification in the Catholic Church is underway. The Stanislawa Leszczynska Foundation, led by members of her family, is working on a feature film about her life.
The 5th World Prayer Congress for Life, organized by Human Life International and a number of other major pro-life organizations, will be held in Rome from October 5th to 10th, featuring many of the major figures in the worldwide pro-life movement and various high-level Vatican officials.
LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen will address the Congress on how to communicate the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality in a hostile culture.
Click here to register to attend the Congress.