The KZ Gusen Rosaries

Since there were hundreds of priests and thousands of Polish intellectuals at the KZ Gusen Camp and since every religious practics were forbidden in that camp, 3 secret Rosaries were produced by Polish KZ Gusen inmates between 1943 and 1944. All of this Rosaries were filled with ashes from the KZ Gusen Crematorium.

The tradition of praying a secret rosary at KZ Gusen started in October 1940 when an SS-man forced a Polish priest at KZ Gusen to eat his rosary prior to killing him by heavy beating. At first a group of prisoners gathered regularly to form a “Living Rosary” with their bodies.

The Joyful Rosary (middle of 1943)

This first Rosary was produced of 59 small granite-stones by Spanish inmates in the KZ Gusen Stone-Quarries, where thousands of inmates were exterminated by hardest labour and other cruelties. Each granite stone has a dimension of aprox. 1 cubic centimeter and contains ashes of the KZ Gusen Crematorium. In fact, each of that “pearls” is a small urn. Each “pearl” was given to an other member of the “Living Rosary” with the task to save it for the time after liberation. In August 1960 this Rosary was given to the altar of “Jasna Gora” at Czestochowa.

 The Painful Rosary (late 1943)

The shoting of a 17 year old boy that came into KZ Gusen Camp with his brother was the motivation to manufacture a second Rosary within the KZ Gusen Concentration Camp. This rosary was produced of wood from the gallow of KZ Gusen and was also filled with ashes from the crematorium.In October 1979 this Rosary was given to the altar of the Santa Anna Church at the “Krakowskie Przedmiescie” suburb of Warszawa.

The Glorious Rosary (July 1944)

This Rosary was produced because some Americans that came down from their airplane on parachutes near the KZ Gusen Camps were shot hanging on their parachutes by SS-men. So, the prisoners organized some plexi-glass of the crashed airplane and manufactured 55 further cubes that were filled with ashes too. In October 1980 this Rosary was given to the altar of the Cathedral of Wroclaw.

Recommended literature:

  • Jean Majerus, Ein Polnischer Rosenkranz des Dankes aus Mauthausen-Gusen, Die Warte Nr.13/1522, 27. April 1989
  • Stanislaw Koprowski, Trzy czesci rozanca wykonane przez byliych wiezniow obozu koncentracyjnego Gusen podoboz Mauthausen w latach 1942-1944, Warszawa 1983
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