"We lived in some kind of a huge "outbreak” of evil and only then we gradually started to realize its real dimensions"

Karol Wojtyła at war
Polish underground state
The aggression of Germany and Russia on Poland

On 1 September 1939,
World War II breaks out
and will only end in 1945.

A student of
Polish philology

"I carry within me the vivid memory
of what a university - Alma Mater - is.
Not just memory, but a sense of debt
that has to be paid off with one's whole life"

In 1938, Karol began studying
Polish philology at the Jagiellonian University.
He moved to Krakow with his father.

Karol Wojtyła,
Jagiellonian UniversityCollegium Novum, 1930s
A student of Polish philology

in Solvay

"(...) four years of physical labor,
a period of participation in a large
workers community, have become
a special gift of Providence for me"

During World War II, Karol
worked for four years at the Krakow
"Solvay" Soda Plant - in the quarry
and water treatment plant.

Wojtyła as a worker
during World War II
Worker in Solvay
A book stained with soda


"Keeping the secret character of these theatrical meetings
was indispensable, otherwise we were all exposed to severe
punishments by the occupation authorities - most likely
deportation to a concentration camp"

The performances of the underground
Rhapsodic Theatre were a form of struggle
- they upheld the spirit of national culture
in the dark night of the occupation.

Rhapsodic Theatre perfomance poster from 1946 r.
Mieczysław Kotlarczyk
- the founder of the Rhapsodic Theatre
Rhapsodic Theatre


"I received from him especially
a lot of the riches of his soul,
enamoured of God Himself,
and the riches of spiritual and mystical life"

Worker Wojtyła participated in the Holy Mass
in the parish in Dębniki, every morning,
wearing clogs, denim clothes and a haversack
slung over his shoulder. There he met Jan Tyranowski
- a man who influenced his further life.

Jan Tyranowski
Worker Wojtyła
Józef Wilk was an altar boy in the Salesians' church in Dębniki and also participated in meetings led by Jan Tyranowski. He recalls Karol Wojtyła.

Father's death

"As a result of the outbreak of war, I was separated
from my studies and the university environment.
I lost my father during this time, the last man in
my immediate family. All this was also - in an objective
sense a process of detachment from my previous ideals (...)"

Karol's death was a painful blow to Karol.
Young Wojtyla was not present in the last
moments of life of any of his
immediate family members.

From the left:
Karol and his father
Father's death

Young poet

"The distant shores of silence
begin just outside the doorstep..."

Just before and during the war,
Wojtyła wrote his youthful poems and plays.

Young poet
Shores of silence

A new vision of life

"In the face of the increasingly widespread evil
and the horrors of war, the sense of priesthood
and its mission in the world became extremely
transparent and clear to me"

Colleagues saw in Karol material for the future
great actor and man of art. He made a decision
about a new way of life during a difficult time of occupation.

Someone was leaning over me
Jan Leopold Tyranowski
Mieczysław Kotlarczyk
Irena Szkocka
Juliusz Kydryński
Adam Chmielowski
(St. Brother Albert)
Adam Chmielowski, St. Brother Albert
Jerzy Braun
Jerzy Bronisław Braun


Krakow of Wojtyła

"Krakow, from the tenderest years of my life,
has been for me a particular synthesis of all
that it means to be Polish and Christian.
She has always spoken of the great
historic past of my Motherland"

Interesting facts
Uknown accident
Krzysztof Zanussi - the Pope's suggestion
Maria Poźniak - convalescence of Karol
Unknown accident
Junak camp
Junak camp
Memories from the junak camp

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