At the end of July 1941, a prisoner had escaped from Auschwitz. Deputy Camp Commander Karl Fritzsch picked 10 men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts.
When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, “My wife! My children!” Kolbe volunteered to take his place.
After being starved and deprived of water for two weeks, only Kolbe and three others remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied, so they gave the four remaining prisoners lethal injections of carbolic acid.
Jan. 8, 1894-Aug. 14, 1941