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September 19, 1940,

Discussion in '"Today in History", Literature & Media Review' started by Martin Antonenko, Sep 19, 2022.

  1. Martin Antonenko A Fixture

    Witold Pilecki - a real hero!

    On September 19, 1940, members of the German "Sicherheitsdienst" (SD) arrest the alleged Jew Tomasz Serafiński at Warsaw, which had been occupied for a year....:


    After a short examination - and the abuse that was customary at the time in the local GESTAPO Leitstelle - the man was deported to the Auschwitz death camp.

    What the Nazi henchmen don't know: The man's real name is Witold Pilecki, he's a Roman Catholic Polish cavalry lieutenant...


    ... first fought against the German invaders in 1939...


    ... lived underground under various code names after the defeat, set up a resistance group called "Tajna Armia Polska" ("Secret Polish Army") and also worked in the also secret underground army "Armia Krajowa" ("Home Army").

    When rumors about the industrial extermination of Jews in Poland first circulated in 1940, they were not believed in many places - not even in large circles of the Polish resistance movement!

    The Western Allies are also incredulous - the rumors are too scary, they sound almost unbelievable!

    Lieutenant Pilecki then deliberately allowed himself to be "picked up" by the Germans in the guise of a Polish Jew (and correspondingly forged papers) and deported to Auschwitz - to see with his own eyes what was actually going on there.

    Witold Pilecki is the only person who voluntarily and unnecessarily took it upon himself to come to Auschwitz!

    In the death camp, Pilecki sees that the worst rumors about Auschwitz are surpassed by reality!

    He sees the cold industrial mass murder in the gas chambers...


    ...as well as the walls scratched by thousands of fingernails on the futile escape from the gas...


    ... the burning of the tens of thousands of corpses in the crematorium...


    ... he sees the daily torture, the hunger, the misery and also the "annihilation through work" that is inflicted on those who are still strong enough to be able to work for the Germans for a while...:


    Pilecki stayed in Auschwitz for almost three years and organized a resistance group among fellow Polish prisoners. Here is his camp card...:


    When he was assigned to a night shift in the camp bakery outside the fence on the night of April 26/27, 1943, he and two of his comrades overpowered the guard, cut the telephone line and escaped! He takes his own notes with him, as well as documents he stole from the Germans earlier.

    In case the Germans arrest him, he has obtained a cyanide capsule and is determined that he would rather kill himself than reveal his knowledge.

    In Warsaw he makes underground contact with the Armia Krajowa and gives a detailed report, known in Poland as "Raport Witolda"...:


    His information is immediately passed on to the Allies.

    Why they do nothing against the mass murder - the bombing of the railway lines to Auschwitz would have interrupted the transports and probably saved the lives of many those doomed to die is an unsolved mystery of history to this day...!

    Pilecki is honored for his services by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armia Krajowa, General Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski...


    ... promoted to Rotmistrz (captain)...


    ... and fights against the Germans in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944...:


    The uprising is led by the Germans under SS General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski (here with General Bor-Komorowski at his capitulation)...

    ... cruelly crushed - while the Red Army stands on the opposite bank of the Vistula and watches idly.

    Pilecki survived the cruel battles with the Germans and, after the uprising was crushed, went underground again until the end of the war.

    He remains true to his national-Polish convictions even after the Second World War, which will cost him his life:

    Pilecki begins collecting evidence again, this time about the violent Stalinization being carried out in Poland by the Soviet occupying power.

    On May 8, 1947, he himself was arrested by the Polish communist secret service "Urząd Bezpieczeństwa" ("Security Office").

    Here is his admission card to prison...:


    Before the trial, he is repeatedly tortured (the traces of the abuse are clearly visible in the photo above!), but he does not reveal any secret information and even tries to protect fellow prisoners.

    A show trial takes place in Warsaw on March 3, 1948, in which many probably forged documents are presented as "evidences" against Pilecki.


    On May 15, 1948, Pilecki was sentenced to death as an "imperialist spy". Ten days later he was shot in the neck in Mokotów prison on Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw.

    Until 1989, information about Pilecki's actions and fate was suppressed by the Polish communist regime - after the regime's fall, he was fully rehabilitated on October 1, 1990...:


    On September 6, 2013, Witold Pilecki was posthumously promoted to colonel.

    Nap, Old Pete and Dr Bison like this.
  2. Old Pete Active Member

    A true hero
    Martin Antonenko likes this.
  3. Nap A Fixture


    Agree there , a incredibly brave man


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