Franciszek Ścigała


He was born on 1st December 1882 in Woźniki. There, he finished elementary school and then he attended classical gymnasium in Królewska Huta. He graduated from theology at University of Wrocław and he also took part in professor Władyslaw Nehring’s Slavic literature seminar. He took an active part in “Kółko Polskie” functioning at archbishop’s convict in Wrocław. In 1910 he took holy orders and started to minister as a vicar to a parish in Bogucice (a district of Katowice at present). During the First World War he was called up into the Prussian army and he served as a paramedic in hospital in Goczałkowice. After the intervention of the vicar general in Wrocław he was released from the army and came back to his parish in Bogucice. In May 1917 he was moved to Siemianowice Śląskie. He took an active part in the plebiscite action and Silesian Upraisings. He got Cross on the Silesian Brace of Bravery and Merit for his services.

In 1923 he was appointed a parish priest of Saint Stephen’s parish in Bogucice by the apostolic administrator Father Augustyn Hlonda. In November 1926 during local government elections Father Franciszek Ścigała was elected to the city council in Katowice on behalf of Christian Democracy. From 1927 till 1940 he published Gawędy Stacha Kropiciela in the papers of Gość Niedzielny which were feuilletons written in Silesian dialect about current events. As a parish priest he drew the congregation’s attention to the issue of sobriety: We have to admit with sadness and regret that our people are taking to drink awfully. Not only some husbands but also women, young men, girls and even children get drunk. Almost every house is an inn. He did not avoid criticizing the German influence either. He admonished for not sending children to German schools.: Our homeland is Poland and only Polish school is for your child. Do not become your Homeland traitor, your child traitor. Stanisław Różanowicz, a Polish national activist, depicted Father Ścigała’s figure: He was a typical country parish priest. He wore a long flock coat. His trousers were black put into his black jackboots. He was holding a walking stick in his hand. He used it to warn playful youths. Apart from that he belonged to Katowice Shooting Brotherhood. He wore its gala uniform. He took part in the competitions in Kościuszko park to get a “król kurkowy” title.

After the outbreak of the Second World War he still ministered to his parish as a parish priest till 1st May 1940 when he was arrested by the Germans and put in prison in Katowice and on 5th May 1940 he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Next, he was transported to the Mauthausen-Gusen sub-camp on 26th June 1940. There, he was put into the 17 barrack and sent to work in the quarry. He wrote: I feel good in the letter sent on 27th July 1940. However, it is known that such statements did not correspond with the facts, in fact they were just required phrases which had to be written in every camp letter. The note prepared by the inmates for so called “Gusen Book” introduced the circumstances of the priest’s death: On the day of his death, he was called to (Karl) Chmielewski – the camp manager and he was interrogated because of his parishioners’ general petition asking for his release from the camp. On the orders of Chmielewski – Krutzki and Keleberc kapos harassed him and he was taken from his work place onto the assembly square and then carried in front of the block. Doctor Pończa, doctor Garbień and doctor Duława summoned by Stanisław Nogaj could not save him and were the witnesses of (his) death. Father Franciszek Ścigała died on 2nd September 1940 at 6.40.

A group of priests from Saint Stephen’s parish in Bogucice. The first form the right Father Franciszek Ścigała. In the background: Father Franciszek Ścigała – a portrait photograph.