Maximilian Maria Kolbe, O.F.M. Conv. (1894–1941) was a Polish Franciscan friar who gave his life to save that of a stranger at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. The Catholic Church later canonized Kolbe as a saint under John Paul II in 1982.
When the Catholic declared Kolbe a martyr of charity deserving of sainthood on October 10, 1982, it sparked some accusations that Kolbe was part of anti-Semitic sentiments in pre-war Poland. Scholars reject that accusation but a review of Kolbe's voluminous writings illustrates that he was aware of widespread animus towards the Jewish people, and particularly Masons, in Poland in the late 1930s. For example, Father Kolbe once wrote:
- "Speaking of the Jews, I would devote great attention not to stir up accidentally nor to intensify to a greater degree the hatred of our readers against them, who are already so ill-disposed or sometimes downright hostile in their confrontations."
In a letter to his superior in 1937, Father Kolbe criticized a Monsignor Trzeciak as a "fiery anti-Semite to the point of being a chauvinist."