A memoir of a Polish priest’s harrowing imprisonment, including at a concentration camp, during World War II.
Fabisiak (The Nativity of Jesus, 2017) was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1939 in Poland; just three months later, Germany, under the orders of Hitler, invaded. Fabisiak’s ophthalmologist told him to flee while he still could, but he dithered and was arrested. His treatment was grim; his “days were filled with fear and humiliation.” Fabisiak eventually managed to escape—he was well-equipped with the necessary false documents. The Germans recaptured him, beat him brutally, and summarily sentenced him to hard labor for espionage. After being imprisoned at eight different prisons and two labor camps, he was finally incarcerated at the infamous concentration camp at Dachau, a “place of inhumane suffering and extermination.” This account is a remarkable combination of personal testimony and almost sociological observation. Fabisiak reveals innumerable facets of Dachau—the food, the different kinds of prisoners, the guards, as well as the physical and sexual abuse of the prisoners, the chilling experiments conducted on them, the gas chambers, and the crematorium. The memoir is unsparingly detailed, a brave but disturbing act of bearing historical witness. However, for all the degradations described, this is far from a hopeless indictment of humankind—the author repeatedly records the kindnesses he encountered, even among his German captors and, in some cases, at great risk to themselves. Regarding Dachau, the author heard the worst: “It was said that God’s entrance would be prohibited there.” Though his hardships were grotesque, his remembrance of human decency in the unlikeliest of places is infinitely inspiriting.
A cleareyed, meditative account of an unfathomable evil.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – November 8, 2018 – The year is 1939. The German army marches into Poland to a frosty reception. The air is thick with the threat of violence. Rumor and conspiracy lurk behind every corner. In this environment, a recently ordained Jesuit priest receives a message: “You are a target. Get out while you still can.”
Father Chester Fabisiak did not believe that warning, and it almost cost him his life. “Memories of a Devil” is a recounting of the consequences of his inaction; a dramatic, pulse-pounding, cautionary tale of the price of disbelief in evil. As readers follow Father Fabisiak’s journey from occupied Poland to the notorious Dachau concentration camp near Munich, they are shown the depths of humanity’s depravity – and of its grace. Fabisiak’s message is clear: humanity’s will is constantly threatened by evil and only resistance can stop it.
Father Fabisiak’s memoir is a treasure trove of historical facts and an important philosophical testament about humanity’s duty to challenge evil wherever it is found. While Fabisiak survived his ordeal in Dachau, he saw firsthand the cruelty and carnage of the concentration camps. His gratitude for being liberated by U.S. soldiers before he suffered that same fate propelled him to live a life of servitude as a Jesuit priest in America. After his death in 1996, his niece Danuta made sure his manuscript was converted into a memoir, so his teachings could be shared with future generations.
About Father Chester Fabisiak, SJ: Father Chester Fabisiak, SJ devoted his life to God and his fellow human beings. He enthusiastically taught children and adolescents, seeking to prepare them for the responsibilities of this world as well as their eternal lives. His memoir, “Memories of a Devil,” is his educational, intellectual and spiritual gift to subsequent generations. It is available for purchase and download on Amazon. Following his death in 1996, Chester’s niece, Danuta, saw that her uncle’s wishes were carried out and that his manuscript was published. She hopes that his retelling of the concentration camps will serve as a cautionary tale to humanity; that turning a blind eye to evil will result in tragedy.