September 13, 2022 marks the 78th anniversary of one of the most notorious U.S. bombings of the German IG Farben plant. During it, an event occurred that has gone down in history as a miracle in Oświęcim.
As Salesian Father Alexander Karkoszka recounted two years ago in a report for the Remembrance Museum of Land of Oświęcim Residents, the town was frequently bombed in 1944 and 1945. He noted that a lot of bombs fell on the parish cemetery, because there was a German ammunition depot nearby.
“Our shelter was under the castle. Or we escaped to the basement,” he said.
“In 1944, when there were air raids on factories, I was scared. Once an air raid started while I was in the city, then I remember that I took shelter under the castle. At that time, they bombed a cinema at the Salesians for Germans only,” Marian Domasik recounted in another account recorded by the Remembrance Museum. He remembered that the force of the bomb hits was enormous. The ground would quake, and he thought the shelter he was in would collapse in a moment.
On September 13, 1944, U.S. B-24 Liberator bombers under the cover of fighter planes took off from airfields in Italy. Their targets were the IG Farben plant and the towns of Blachownia (near Czestochowa) and Zdzieszowice (in the Opole region). According to Janusz Wróbel in his book “Niemieckie ciężkie baterie przeciwlotnicze wokół Oświęcimia 1944-1945,” (about heavy German artillery around Oświęcim 1944-45) the bombing of IG Farben began at 11:17 am and lasted five minutes. During that time, the bombers dropped more than 235 tons of bombs. Some of them in the proximity of IG Farben, including one on a cinema that the Germans had just set up for themselves on the grounds of the Salesian Institution. The facility was destroyed. The church standing nearby was not damaged; only the main altar moved a few metres. Residents who came to inspect the destruction after the bombing immediately began to speak of a miracle and a visible sign of the work of Divine Providence.
Pictured are American Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers like the ones that bombed IG Farben on September 13, 1944. Photo: United States Air Force, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons