The Auschwitz volunteer: beyond bravery
September 1940: with calm deliberation, Polish Army officer Pilecki walked into a Nazi German street round-up in Warsaw...and became Auschwitz Prisoner No. 4859.
Pilecki had volunteered for a potentially suicidal secret undercover mission for the Polish Underground—to get himself arrested by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz as a prisoner.
His mission: smuggle out intelligence about this new German concentration camp, and build a resistance organization among prisoners with the ultimate goal of liberating the camp.
Barely surviving nearly three years of starvation, disease and brutality, Pilecki accomplished his mission before escaping in April 1943.
His clandestine intelligence reports from the camp, received by the Allies as early as 1941, were among the first eyewitness evidence of what was going on at Auschwitz.
Pilecki's most comprehensive report on Auschwitz, written in 1945 and suppressed by the postwar Polish communist regime for nearly fifty years, is being published here in Engish for the first time.
Warsaw 1944. An insurgent's journal of the uprising
Memoirs of the gallant but doomed 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis are extremely rare as few insurgents survived and most who did were to perish later at the hands of either the Russians or Nazis. This remarkable Journal, written shortly after the event, describes not only the author’s own experiences during the Uprising but the wider picture. With the Red Army’s arrival apparently imminent, the Polish Underground fighters decided to wage open warfare against the Nazi occupiers. This courageous decision was taken despite the Poles’ chronic shortage of arms, ammunition and medical support but in the expectation of the Russians relieving them gratefully for hastening the defeat of the Germans. However, with cruel and calculated cynicism, Stalin halted the offensive and let the uneven match be settled without their involvement. The outcome was inevitable; Warsaw was largely destroyed; the Polish men, women and children fighters crushed; and the Nazis weakened. The Red Army then moved in.