[This is over half-way through the memoirs, and earlier the author has described in detail what "tidying up" and "sport" involve - beatings for the least imperfection in bed making or an imaginary spot of dirt - and in the latter, being beaten, tripped, stamped on, ...]
In front of the barracks lie the beaten and unconscious, carried in from the yard … In the barracks literally hell … The Ox [nickname of the prisoner in charge of the barrack] and the room supervisors do everything to prevent us clearing up in time … As a result, we go to bed without supper, carrying the cauldrons of food to the barracks of the “greens” [criminals] and “blacks” [so-called "antisocials", gypsies, travelling performers, etc].
Only when we are all lying on our bunks does our precentor, leading the evening prayers, explain that a regrettable incident had come to pass, namely, that a dollar bill had been found on one of the priests, and …
“A dollar bill? How on earth?”
“Well. When we were given privileges, it was permitted to give out the breviaries that were laid up in the store room. This priest had a bank note glued into the cover of his breviary. When the privileges were revoked, and all prayer books had to be given back, he kept the bank note and …
Exclamations of outrage! A terrible outrage! In the dark the dormitory seethes.
“Fratres! Fratres!” The precentor tried to calm us down. “Please be quiet. The room supervisor will come in any moment, or the Ox himself, and things will be even worse. Fratres! Oremus … Let us pray for our colleague W., who has been tortured to death.”
“For dollars” hisses someone in the dark.
That one died. That is, in truth, tortured to death. He was already rid of everything, but both barracks of priests? Two thousand exhausted colleagues? … And the poor elderly among us, who had survived from the October transport? … And the ailing bishop…
“Ten days of non-stop sport!” – the punishment was decided. Ten days? Dear God. Who can survive?
So they “exercise” us mercilessly from morning to night. On top of this, Kapp lets a pack of “greens” and “blacks” into our blocks twice a day for revels! Three times a day we put the interior back in order! They take away our food on the slightest pretext. They beat us, pound us, murder. On the muster yard, the weaker collapse.
What is worse, Baecher, the Ox, the room and block supervisors of the other barracks sow rumours in the camp of the dollars found, the quantities of foreign currency, …
The camp seethes! A torrent of abuse, calumnies, insults, names, and curses falls on the abused priests.
“Serves them right! Their whole lives they chased after money, skinned the poor for it, gave no spiritual good without payment, their graspingness has come out even in the camp! Serves them right!”
This spiritual suffering is a thousand times worse and more painful than the murder of “sport” in the yard. Even those most attached to us and best-intentioned begin to change.
Rev. Henryk Malak, Klechy (2nd ed, London, 1961)
Fr Malak spent the entire war, from September 1939, in concentration camps. There are several passages where, having described things so horrible that after the first few pages of the book I stopped trying to imagine them, and which it seems impossible that anyone could have borne for more than a few days, Fr Malak says that the spiritual suffering was worse than the physical. If he says so, I am entirely convinced this is possible, and all the pious texts saying that Our Lord’s spiritual sufferings were greater than his physical are now easy to accept.