The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery

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Overview

In 1940, the Polish Underground wanted to know what was happening inside the recently opened Auschwitz concentration camp. Polish army officer Witold Pilecki volunteered to be arrested by the Germans and report from inside the camp. His intelligence reports, smuggled out in 1941, were among the first eyewitness accounts of Auschwitz atrocities: the extermination of Soviet POWs, its function as a camp for Polish political prisoners, and the "final solution" for Jews. Pilecki received brutal treatment until he ...

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The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery

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Overview

In 1940, the Polish Underground wanted to know what was happening inside the recently opened Auschwitz concentration camp. Polish army officer Witold Pilecki volunteered to be arrested by the Germans and report from inside the camp. His intelligence reports, smuggled out in 1941, were among the first eyewitness accounts of Auschwitz atrocities: the extermination of Soviet POWs, its function as a camp for Polish political prisoners, and the "final solution" for Jews. Pilecki received brutal treatment until he escaped in April 1943; soon after, he wrote a brief report. This book is the first English translation of a 1945 expanded version. In the foreword, Poland's chief rabbi states, "If heeded, Pilecki's early warnings might have changed the course of history." Pilecki's story was suppressed for half a century after his 1948 arrest by the Polish Communist regime as a "Western spy." He was executed and expunged from Polish history. Pilecki writes in staccato style but also interjects his observations on humankind's lack of progress: "We have strayed, my friends, we have strayed dreadfully.... We are a whole level of hell worse than animals!"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480569195
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 4/28/2014
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Captain Witold Pilecki (1901–1948), a cavalry officer in the Polish Army, was one of the founders of a resistance organization in German-occupied Poland during World War II that quickly evolved into the Polish Underground Army.

Pilecki is the only man known to have volunteered to get himself arrested and sent to Auschwitz as a prisoner. After escaping from Auschwitz in April 1943, he continued his work in the Polish Underground Army High Command. He fought in the Warsaw Uprising (August–October 1944), was taken prisoner by the Germans and ended the war in a German POW camp.

In late 1945, Pilecki, who was married and the father of two children, volunteered to return undercover to Poland, where conditions were chaotic at war’s end as the communists were asserting control. His mission: to liaise with anti-communist resistance organizations and report back on conditions within the country.

He was captured by the postwar Polish communist regime, tortured and executed in 1948 as a traitor and a “Western spy.” Pilecki’s name was erased from Polish history until the collapse of communism in 1989.

Pilecki was fully exonerated posthumously in the 1990s. Today he is regarded as one of Poland’s heroes.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 28, 2012

    Disappointing

    My expectations were not met - The Nazi thing has been done to death - We know how bad they were - We actually were in Auschwitz and saw the places in the book and it was very moving to be there. However the day to day accounting of the book was a bit tedious. We were aware of the camps history and its original purpose of holding and eliminating Poles. For the novice that may be new but otherwise there was nothing especially revealing in the book. But then, it was never intended to be a novel - just a military report.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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