Auschwitz inmate Pilecki – ‘diamond among heroes’
PR dla Zagranicy
A debate on the life of Captain Witold Pilecki, known as the only man who volunteered to be captured and imprisoned in Auschwitz, attracted several hundred people to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Sunday.
Captain Pilecki: photo - wikicommons
For many of the attendees this was the first time they had heard about Pilecki, who was described, at the debate to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, by the Polish Ambassador to the US, Ryszard Schnepf, as a “diamond among Poland’s heroes”, the PAP news agency reports.
The debate was prompted by the publication in the United States of Pilecki’s original 1945 Auschwitz Report, a 400-page book is entitled, The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery.
The book has an introduction by renowned British historian Norman Davies and a foreword by Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland.
Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale University, one of the speakers at the debate, recalled that during his three years in Auschwitz during WW II Nazi-occupied Poland , Witold Pilecki tried to organize an insurrection in the camp and managed to send reports on the situation in the camp, the transports of Jews and Nazi genocide.
In 1943, having escaped from Auschwitz, Pilecki reached Warsaw, and later fought in the Warsaw Rising and went to Italy to join the Second Polish Corps.
In October 1945 he was sent by the Polish intelligence back to Poland but was captured by the communists, accused of spying and executed in 1948.
In January, an area in Warsaw’s prestigious Powazki Military Cemetery was dug up in an attempt to locate Pilecki’s remains, the whereabouts of which have remained since his death.
Snyder recalled at the debate in Washington the war-time heroism of another Pole, Jan Karski, who was voluntarily smuggled into the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw to gather evidence on the plight of Polish Jews.
“These men should be honoured,” he said.
The debate at the Holocaust Museum was co-organized by the Polish Embassy in Washington. (mk/pg)