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The Christmas tree that survived the Nazis still lights today

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 27th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Here's a story that will warm your heart. A Polish POW who survived Nazi imprisonment still has a miniature Christmas tree he managed to smuggle into the camp, which he still lights every year. Janusz Kent, 87, lives in England and lights his tree in memory of his parents and the experiences he had as a youth.

LONDON, ENGLAND (Catholic Online) - Janusz Kent was featured in the Daily Mail for his practice of lighting a miniature Christmas tree, which was given to him by his parents in Poland during World War II. Captured by the Nazis during the Warsaw Uprising, Kent was imprisoned in Stalag 11A in southern Germany.

The Nazis forbade prisoners from having Christmas trees, but they did not know about Kent's miniature tree, which he managed to smuggle into the camp.

One evening after finishing his meager meal of watery soup, Kent gathered some tiny candles and lit his tree. Other prisoners saw the candles and came to his barracks, viewing it through the window. Thousands of inmates began to sing Christmas carols in their native languages.

The Nazis could not stop Christmas, or the Allies for that matter.

That Christmas was Kent's only one served in Nazi detention, as the camp was liberated just four months later. However, for Kent and his Christmas tree, a long career of 58 years had only begun.

Kent kept the tree as he was transported to England and treated in a hospital for his wartime injuries. After the war he earned a degree in architecture and went to work in England.

Each year, Kent told the Mail, he would light the tree in honor of his parents. Kent continued his tradition, and was finally able to share the tree with his parents after reuniting with his family 15 years after the war.

Kent, and his wife of 50 years still live in England today and just this Christmas, they lit their tree together.

Kent's wife, Halina, 81, told an interviewer, "Every year, when we light the tree we feel so close together, so lucky that we have each other, that Janusz survived all those horrible years, and it makes Christmas come alive for us."

Kent said, "The tree has seen better times, having survived a fire and other mishaps, but every year it makes us both feel grateful we have had such a beautiful life together."

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