A dramatic and often harrowing eyewitness account of life, death and resistance inside the infamous Nazi German concentration camp by Captain Witold Pilecki...
...the only man to volunteer to be captured and imprisoned in Auschwitz to bring out the story of the camp!
September 1940. With calm deliberation, Polish Army officer Witold Pilecki walked into a Nazi German street round-up in Warsaw… and became Auschwitz Prisoner No. 4859.
Pilecki had volunteered for a secret mission: smuggle out intelligence about this new German concentration camp at Oświęcim (known as Auschwitz by the Germans) in occupied Poland, and build a resistance
Retail Price: USD $34.95
Translator: Jarek Garlinski
Publisher: Aquila Polonica
Format: Trade Paperback
Page Count: 392
Size: 6" x 9" (152 x 228 mm)
Includes more than 40 black a
nd white photos, maps and i
organisation amongst the prisoners. He barely survived more than two years of hunger, disease and brutality, having accomplished most of his mission at Auschwitz before escaping in April 1943. Pilecki's clandestine intelligence reports from Auschwitz, received by the Allies in 1941, were amongst the earliest. Pilecki's camp-wide resistance organisation in Auschwitz had been smuggling out regular reports describing the full horrors of daily life inside the camp, the building of the gas chambers and the mass-extermination of the Jews arriving at the camp.
Although Pilecki had first started to write-up his experiences at Auschwitz in an eleven page document entitled Raport 'W' shortly after his escape in 1943, The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery; is based on Pilecki’s extensive Auschwitz report or Raport 'Witolda' written in 1945 for his Polish Army superiors. This seminal primary source is published in English for the first time and describes Auschwitz concentration camp from its early days in September 1940 through to April 1943 by which time the Auschwitz camp complex had been greatly expanded and transformed into an extermination camp.
In the report, Pilecki also tells of his bold plan to liberate Auschwitz with Allied support—a plan that was deemed too ambitious to succeed so did not come to fruition.
Pilecki even describes the operation of a secret radio transmitter built by the prisoners and hidden in the camp's hospital block!
The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery is translated into English for the first time from Pilecki's original 1945 Polish report by Jarek Garliński.
The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz
by Jack Fairweather
June 25, 2019
WINNER OF THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD
“Superbly written and breathtakingly researched, The Volunteer smuggles us into Auschwitz and shows us—as if watching a movie—the story of a Polish agent who infiltrated the infamous camp, organized a rebellion, and then snuck back out. We are squarely confronted with the other human truth: ordinary people will happily risk their lives to help others. Fairweather has dug up a story of incalculable value and delivered it to us in the most compelling prose I have read in a long time.” —Sebastian Junger, bestselling author of The Perfect Storm and Tribe
The "Wall of Tears" as it looks today at Auschwitz. Much of the world does not yet know the full story of Polish heroism and suffering during World War ll.
Witold Pilecki was 38 when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, triggering the start of World War II. He helped organize a resistance campaign during which many fellow fighters were caught and sent to Auschwitz, which in the early war years served more as a camp for Polish resistance fighters than Jews. That inspired him to hatch an audacious plan: He told other resistance commanders that he wanted to become an Auschwitz inmate to check on rumors of atrocities.
Carrying documents bearing the alias Tomasz Serafinski, the Catholic cavalry officer walked into the German SS street roundup in Warsaw in September 1940, and was put on a train transport to Auschwitz, where he was given prisoner number 4859.
Pilecki is the only person known to have volunteered for Auschwitz. His terse dispatches to the outside world were slips of thin paper stitched inside clothes of inmates leaving the camp or left in nearby fields for others to collect. They included only code names for inmates who were beaten to death, executed by gunfire or gassed. As sketchy as they were, they were the first eyewitness account of the Nazi death machine at Auschwitz.
Pilecki survived hard labor, beatings, cold and typhoid fever thanks to support from a clandestine resistance network that he managed to organize inside the camp. Some of its members had access to food, others to clothes or medicines.
He plotted a revolt that was to release inmates with the help of an outside attack by resistance fighters; it was never attempted because considered too risky, Pawlowicz said.
Pilecki escaped in April 1943 when he realized that the SS might uncover his work. With two other men he ran from a night shift at a bakery that was outside the death camp's barbed wire fence.
After his escape, Pilecki wrote three detailed reports on the extermination camp.
One describes how his transport was met by yelling SS men and attacking dogs: "They told one of us to run to a post away from the road, and immediately sent a machine gun round after him. Killed him. Ten random colleagues were taken out of the group and shot, as they were walking, as 'collective responsibility' for the 'escape' that the SS-men arranged themselves."
Pilecki's heroics were for the most part in vain. Even though his accounts of gas chambers made it all the way to Poland's government-in-exile in London and to other Western capitals, few believed what they were reading.
Source: National Post
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The incredible true story of a Polish resistance fighter’s infiltration of Auschwitz to sabotage the camp from within, and his death-defying attempt to warn the Allies about the Nazis’ plans for a “Final Solution” before it was too late.
To uncover the fate of the thousands being interred at a mysterious Nazi camp on the border of the Reich, a thirty-nine-year-old Polish resistance fighter named Witold Pilecki volunteered for an audacious mission: assume a fake identity, intentionally get captured and sent to the new camp, and then report back to the underground on what had happened to his compatriots there. But gathering information was not his only task: he was to execute an attack from inside—where the Germans would least expect it.
The name of the camp was Auschwitz.
Over the next two and half years, Pilecki forged an underground army within Auschwitz that sabotaged facilities, assassinated Nazi informants and officers, and gathered evidence of terrifying abuse and mass murder. But as he pieced together the horrifying truth that the camp was to become the epicenter of Nazi plans to exterminate Europe’s Jews, Pilecki realized he would have to risk his men, his life, and his family to warn the West before all was lost. To do so, meant attempting the impossible—an escape from Auschwitz itself.
Completely erased from the historical record by Poland’s post-war Communist government, Pilecki remains almost unknown to the world. Now, with exclusive access to previously hidden diaries, family and camp survivor accounts, and recently declassified files, Jack Fairweather offers an unflinching portrayal of survival, revenge and betrayal in mankind’s darkest hour. And in uncovering the tragic outcome of Pilecki’s mission, he reveals that its ultimate defeat originated not in Auschwitz or Berlin, but in London and Washington.