It was March 23, 1943 when the Nazis robbed the church bell of the parish “Saint Catherine of Alexandria” in the town of Slawiecice in Upper Silesia.
The goal of the perpetrators: to bring the 322 kilo bell with the code number 25/3 / 68C to Germany and melt it down to make weapons and ammunition. The bell left the place, which was formerly called Ehrenforst, on a team of horses and was considered lost. Until she was discovered in Germany and returned to her homeland after 77 years.
The long way of the stolen bell.
Around 80,000 bells were melted down for armament purposes during the Second World War. A good 12,000 escaped this fate and ended up at a central assembly point in Hamburg, the “bell cemetery” after the war. They were photographed, inscriptions noted. These data came to an archive in Nuremberg.
Many bells were returned to their home communities. The British military government prohibited the return of around 1,300 bells from the eastern regions. 25/3 / 68C came to the diocese of Münster as a “godfather bell” and was exhibited in the inner courtyard of the church court. This was also documented.
And so Marian Bednarek, the parish priest in Slawiecice, found what he was looking for! The clergyman had researched for years. And never gave up hope of finding the bell. Friends of the pastor who lived in Germany contacted the cathedral administration in Münster. The approval process to bring the bell to Poland dragged on and was sealed in November 2020.
The morning after their return, the Polish congregation held a welcoming service. Currently the bell is on display for all people to see. Soon it will be hanging in the church tower again and ringing the bell.