Wanda Poltawska, 101, Who Cast a Friendship With a Era Pope, Dies newsfragment


Wanda Poltawska, a Polish psychiatrist and writer who next International Battle II sought non secular assistance to deal with the horrors she had skilled in a Nazi focus camp and turned into a lifelong pal of her counselor, a clergyman who would one pace be Pope John Paul II, died on Oct. 24 at her house in Krakow. She was once 101.

Her dying was once showed by way of her grandson Chris Dadak.

The pope’s friendship with Dr. Poltawska (pronounced pole-DUS-ka), a married Roman Catholic with 4 grown daughters, was once in large part unknown till 2009, 4 years next John Paul’s dying, when she visible main points of it in a memoir.

That they had exchanged letters and visits for nearly a half-century, she wrote, forming in 1956 in Krakow, Poland, the place she had begun a psychiatric apply and the place the while pontiff was once a dynamic younger parish priest, the Rev. Karol Wojtyla.

It was once a touch in a confessional that at first introduced them in combination. There, Dr. Poltawska informed Father Wojtyla of the burdens she had borne for years as a sufferer of tragic scientific experiments carried out on her and alternative girls within the focus camp at Ravensbrück, Germany. Their alternate resulted in additional consultations and, over month, a bond that might lengthen from Poland to the Vatican.

Her secure “Memories of the Beskidy Hills” integrated footage of her society on climbing, snowboarding and tenting journeys with Father Wojtyla within the mountains of southeastern Poland, lengthy ahead of his papacy started in 1978. Alternative footage confirmed the society with the pope on the Vatican and at Castel Gandolfo, his retreat out of doors Rome.

Written in Polish throughout 570 pages, the secure introduced recollections about used occasions in combination: prayers and campfire spiritual discussions, carols sung at Christmastime, First Communion celebrations for the women, and habitual visits to the Poltawska house in Krakow, the place the kids known as him “Uncle Karol.”

The memoir quoted from letters that he addressed to “Dearest Dusia” and signed “Br,” for “Brat,” or “Brother.” In a single, dated Oct. 20, 1978, a couple of days next his elevation to the papacy, he expressed satisfaction that she and her society had been coming to Rome for a personal discuss with with him.

That letter introduced endearing non-public confidences. Relating to his election in a conclave of cardinals, he wrote, “I thank God that he gave me so much calm.”

“In all of this, I think of you,” wrote the pope, whose mom, father and brother had all died, escape him with out a near society. “I have always believed that you, in the concentration camp, suffered in part for me. It is on the basis of this belief that I have come to the idea that yours might be my family, and you a sister to me.”

Dr. Poltawska met the pope on the Vatican in a while thereafter, at the side of her husband, Andrezj Poltawski, a educator of philosophy, and their daughters. The society would it seems that see him continuously all over his 26-year papacy. She visited him at a health facility in Rome next he was once shot by way of a would-be murderer in 1981, and she or he was once considered one of a gaggle of public who had been allowed to discuss with his bedside within the hours ahead of he died in 2005.

Past not anything in her secure urged any closeness past a brother-sister courting, some church officers reacted to its e-newsletter with hostility. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Reasons of Saints, which was once making an allowance for canonization for John Paul II, accused Dr. Poltawska of withholding correspondence that would prolong beatification.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, John Paul’s former non-public secretary, accused Dr. Poltawska of exaggerating her courting with the pope. He informed the Italian newspaper L. a. Stampa that John Paul had many used pals from Poland. “That was his secret: to make all those who were dear to him feel like they had a special relationship with him,” the cardinal was once quoted as announcing.

Dr. Poltawska was once the writer of books protecting conventional society values and Catholic dogma opposing birth control, abortion and premarital intercourse, and she or he reiterated her help for those concepts in a One hundredth-birthday interview in Krakow with The Nationwide Catholic Check in.

For years she had pushed aside efforts to reduce her friendship with the pope, in addition to hypothesis of a romantic courting among them. “What is wrong in a priest’s friendship with a woman?” she as soon as requested The Related Press. “Isn’t a priest a human being?”

John Paul’s bond with Dr. Poltawska was once affirmed in 1962 when, as a bishop in Rome for the 2nd Vatican Council, he gained a be aware from her husband announcing she had realized that she had intestinal most cancers and have been given 18 months to reside. He requested a stigmatic friar, Padre Pio da Pietrelcina, to hunt divine intervention. Days next, her docs came upon that the tumor had inexplicably disappeared, the Vatican stated.

In 2002, John Paul canonized Padre Pio, mentioning Dr. Poltawska’s abrupt healing as considered one of two considered necessary miracles for sainthood.

Wanda Wiktoria Wojtasik was once born on Nov. 2, 1921, in Lublin, Poland, the daughter of Adam and Anna (Chaber) Wojtasik. Her father was once a postal clerk, and her mom was once a homemaker. She attended the Faculty of Ursuline Sisters in Lublin and turned into a Lady Information, studying outside scouting talents like tenting and citizenship tasks to God, nation and society.

She was once nearly 18 when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, and International Battle II started in Europe. Colleges had been closed, and regimented formative years organizations, together with Boy Scouts and Lady Guides, had been outlawed by way of Nazi occupiers. Many used teenage had been done as attainable resistance leaders.

Wanda joined the underground resistance, wearing scientific provides and messages. Stuck by way of the Gestapo in February 1941, she was once overwhelmed, tortured and imprisoned for months at Lublin Fortress, upcoming transported by way of railway to the Ravensbrück focus camp in northern Germany.

It was once a camp for girls and youngsters who equipped slave hard work for warfare manufacturing by way of the German producer Siemens. Of 132,000 prisoners from throughout Europe who entered Ravensbrück all over the warfare, simplest 15,000 had been discovered alive when the camp was once liberated by way of Russians in 1945. As many as 92,000 died of condition, hunger, exhaustion and abstract executions, many in cluster shootings. Others had been despatched to Auschwitz.

Some inmates had been killed in extreme pseudo-medical experiments by way of Nazi docs. Ms. Wojtasik was once subjected to those in a morphine stupor, ostensibly to check sulfa medicine. Past she was once held i’m sick on a desk, her decrease legs had been shorten and inflamed with virulent micro organism.

“Our legs swelled up, scarlet and angry; mine was so swollen that the plaster cut into my flesh,” she recalled in a memoir. “Every time we tried to move our mutilated legs, an evil-smelling yellowish brown fluid would seep from under the plaster sheath. They no longer had to bend down to sniff our legs.”

Because the warfare improved and killings within the camp rose sharply, Ms. Wojtasik turned into a observer to processed cluster homicide.

“We did not weep when the death lists were delivered to the block and we learned the names of those who would be killed next day,” she wrote. “Roll calls, when they took people out of the line and executed them, cloaked us in a seamless silence at the heart of which was something far deeper than fear. There was no longer any fear when we faced the shadow of death.”

She promised herself that if she were given out alive, she would transform a health care provider.

Nearest the warfare, she returned to Lublin in melancholy. “Her faith in human beings was destroyed,” her daughter Anna Dadek informed The Nationwide Catholic Check in in 2014. “She had grown up believing in heroes and that every person was created in the image of God. But afterward she couldn’t find any peace.”

Tormented by way of nightmares, she wrote a memoir, no longer for e-newsletter however to exorcise the ghosts. (That secure, “And I Am Afraid of My Dreams,” was once revealed in 1961 and has been reissued in English.) The writing was once healing and eased her nightmares, however no longer the haunted reminiscences.

She married Andrzej Poltawski in 1947. He died in 2020. She is survived by way of their daughters, Katarzyna, Anna, Maria and Barbara; along with Chris, seven extra grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

Dr. Poltawska earned her scientific stage at Jagiellonian College in 1951 and next some extent in psychiatry. She specialised in treating juniors and traumatized survivors of the focus camp at Auschwitz. It was once presen she was once operating at a health center at Jagiellonian College in 1956 that she met Karol Wojtyla.

Father Wojtyla was once an laborer at St. Florian’s Church in Krakow when he first heard her confession in 1956. Through her daughter Anna’s account, Dr. Poltawska felt for the primary month that anyone had understood her. The priest informed her to come back to Accumulation the after pace. A session adopted. He gave her scriptural passages for meditation and worship.

Dr. Poltawska started attending day-to-day Lots celebrated by way of the priest, adopted by way of extra consultations with him that explored her moment and resurrected painful memories of her focus camp reviews.

A friendship blossomed as they came upon familiar pursuits and outlooks on faith and society future. She realized that he have been born in Wadowice, alike Krakow, right into a strict Catholic society. His mom, Emilia, died when he was once 9. His father, Karol Wojtyla, was once a retired Military sergeant with a mini pension.

As she were given to understand her counselor, she offered him to her society. There have been dinners and get-togethers. Father Wojtyla had a lavish baritone expression and appreciated to sing and play games a guitar. He liked poetry, literature and drama, had seemed in beginner theatricals, and performed goalkeeper on a college football staff. Pals known as him Karolek (Modest Charles) or Lolek.

For Dr. Poltawska, his counseling yielded insights into her issues in addition to sluggish amusement from the burdens she carried.

With newfound self assurance, she returned to Ravensbrück on the invitation of the East German govt on Sept. 12, 1959, becoming a member of ratings of former inmates to devote a memorial to the residing and the lifeless: a 12-foot statue of a lady wearing an emaciated camp sufferer in her fingers.

“I didn’t want to come,” she stated. However she was once there.

Over the following twenty years, Karol Wojtyla, already the auxiliary bishop of Krakow, was once named performing archbishop in 1962, archbishop in 1964, a cardinal in 1967 and the pope in 1978. In 2014, he was once increased to sainthood.

Through upcoming, Dr. Poltawska had written 18 books, taught psychiatry on the Clinical College of Krakow for many years and for 33 years controlled the Institute of Folk Theology on the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow. In 2016, President, Andrzej Duda of Poland bestowed on her the Line of the White Eagle, the people’s best possible honor.

Alex Traub contributed reporting.


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