On 1 September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, starting the Second World War. The Salesian house in Poznan on Wroniecka Street was occupied and turned into a warehouse by German soldiers. The young people continued to gather in the gardens outside the city and in the nearby woods. Numerous secret associations arose.
In September 1940, Francis Kesy and four fellow Oratorians were arrested on charges of belonging to an illegal organisation. They were taken to the fearsome Fortress VII near Poznan itself, where they were tortured and interrogated. Later they were transferred to several other prisons where they were not always lucky enough to be together. Returned to Poznan they were tried and accused of high treason and sentenced to death.
They were martyred in Dresden on 24 August 1942. They lived in captivity with a spirit of faith and Salesian spirituality. They prayed continuously: rosary, novenas to Don Bosco and to Mary Help of Christians, morning and evening prayer. They tried to keep in touch with their families through messages that they often managed to send secretly. They courageously asked for and assured prayers. Whenever they could, they happily animated the liturgical feasts spent in the cell. Their faith never faltered. They were credible witnesses to the end.
The Decree of martyrdom was published on 26 March 1999; they were beatified 12 June 1999 by John Paul II
Francis Kesy was born in Berlin on 13 November 1920. The family moved to Poznan for his father's work. Francis was an aspirant at the minor seminary of the Salesians in Lad. During the occupation, unable to continue his studies, he worked in an industrial plant. He spent his free time at the oratory, where, in very close friendship with the other four, he led associations and youth activities. He is remembered as sensitive, but at the same time cheerful, calm, pleasant, and was always willing to help others. Almost every day he received communion; in the evening he recited the rosary. "At Wronki, since I was alone in the cell" he writes in messages to the family "I had time to examine myself. I promised to live differently, as Don Bosco recommended, to live to please the Lord and his Mother, Mary Most Holy...] I pray to the good God that all these tribulations and sorrows will affect me and not you. .
born in Bochum on 21 June, 1919. Shy and quiet, he became more lively when he entered the oratory. He was an organised and responsible student. He distinguished himself because he was very busy in every field of activity, and gave the impression of being the most serious and profound of the group.
born in Poznan on 5 November 1922, he was a reflective lad and tended to go deeper into things to understand events. He was an animator in the best sense of the word. He was distinguished by good humor, commitment and testimony.
born in Lazynie, on 7 September 1919, he was somewhat irascible, but spontaneous, full of energy. But he did display self-mastery and was ready for sacrifice. He was consistent and had an air of genuine authority about him. He saw himself aspiring to Christian perfection and progressing in it. A fellow prisoner writes: "He was good-natured and kind-hearted, he had a soul like crystal ... He told me of a concern: never stain yourself with impure actions."
born in Poznan on 1 October 1919, he was characterized by simplicity, prudence, kindness. At the oratory he was able to develop unusual musical qualities. The religious life breathed into the family and by the Salesians soon led him to Christian maturity. During his imprisonment he showed great love for even older companions. He was free from any feeling of hatred towards his persecutors.