St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe SP3RN
1894 - 1941

In 1930, Franciscan Father Maksymilian Maria Kolbe left Poland for Japan, China and India where he organized monasteries. When in Japan, Father Kolbe got acquainted with a network of small broadcasting radio stations. To supplement a large number of religious periodicals that he was publishing in Poland and abroad at that time, he decided to start a radio station as a new medium. In 1930, he applied for a radio broadcasting license in Poland. However, only the Polish Radio Warsaw (1925) and a military radio station held exclusive radio licenses at that time. Radio receivers were allowed to be owned by permission early in 1924.

In 1936, Father Maksymilian Maria Kolbe was called back from Japan to Poland to manage Niepokalanów, the then largest Catholic Monastery in the world. Father Maksymilian spoke on the national Polish Radio twice: on 08.12.1937 and 02.02.1938. After his first sermon, Father Maksymilian sent Brother Manswet Marczewski to a radio course organized by the Warsaw Amateur Radio Club. Owing to constant pressure exerted on the government and military authorities, a radio licence for test broadcasting was issued on 28.10.1938. Immediately, the works commenced on the radio facilities (a building and an antenna) in Niepokalanów, and a transmitter was built by the "Walter" Company in Warsaw and upgraded in Niepokalanów.

Early in December 1938, a test broadcast was heard from the station whose call-sign was spelt Stacja Polska 3 Radio Niepokalanów (SP3RN). Obviously, an amateur radio license had been issued, although it remains unknown to whom exactly. Father Maksymilian made the first announcement speech on his radio. The next transmission was broadcast on Sunday 11.12.1938. However, a full broadcasting license was not issued before the outbreak of World War II.

Father Maksymilian Maria Kolbe (SP3RN), German Nazi Auschwitz Concentration Camp Inmate No. 16670, was murdered in Auschwitz after he had volunteered, on 29.07.1941, his life replacing another inmate selected for death, Franciszek Gajowniczek, and taken for death into a starvation bunker. It was a sole act of sacrifice of that kind recorded in Auschwitz. Died on 14.08.1941, murdered by a lethal injection of phenol. His corpse was burned in a crematorium the day after.

Mr. Gajowniczek (the person Father Kolbe saved) died in Poland in 1995, aged 94.

Attempts to find a real SP3RN QSL card were unsuccessful. W1HGY had the above card made up. The red and white is from the Polish flag. The crowns refer to the story of St. Max deciding the vocation of his life. Niepokalanow is the name of the Monistary with his ham radio callsign SP3RN. Auschwitz is where he died a martyr's death. 16670 was his tattoo number.

There is a Saint Maximilian Kolbe Radio Net 3814 kHz that meets every Sundays at 8 PM Eastern time.
For more info on the net and Saint Maximilian Kolbe,
go to their website!

See info on SP3RN by UY5XE!


Story & philatelic card from
Courtesy of SP9JPA
Use of photo courtesy of EA5WO
Special thanks to Stephen Dreher
QSL & QSL Info courtesy of W1HGY

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