British daily “The Times” has published excerpts from the book “The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz” by British journalist Jack Fairweather, depicting the story of Polish war-time hero Captain Witold Pilecki.
“Volunteer” by Jack Fairweather, telling the story of Captain Witold Pilecki was recognised as the best biographical book by the jury of Costa Book...see more
“Jack Fairweather first heard of Witold Pilecki’s story in 2011 from a friend with whom he’d covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who had then travelled to Auschwitz and been intrigued to learn about an underground cell in the camp,” the daily wrote in the introduction to the fragment of the book.
“The cell leader was Witold Pilecki, a Polish underground operative who had allowed himself to be arrested by the SS to document Nazi crimes. Little had been written about him because after the Second World War Pilecki fought against the Soviet takeover of Poland and was captured and executed, with all trace of his wartime records destroyed,” the introduction reads.
Recently, the book by Mr Fairweather won the Costa Book Award for the Best Biographical Book.
“The Volunteer” also has a chance to win the title of the Book of the Year in this acknowledged plebiscite, the decision of the jury will be announced on January 28.
Witold Pilecki was born in 1901 and served as cavalry captain during the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 and WWII. Pilecki was also a co-founder of the Secret Polish Army, a resistance group in German-occupied Poland. In 1940, he volunteered to be arrested by Nazi Germans and deported to Auschwitz concentration camp with a view to organising a resistance movement there and to prepare a report on the situation in the camp. The report was eventually presented to the Western Allies as early as 1941. Mr Pilecki also fought in The Warsaw Rising in 1944.
After WWII, Witold Pilecki was arrested, accused of anti-state activities in a show trial, and executed in secret by the Communist authorities in 1948. Despite concerted efforts by the Institute of National Remembrance, his body has not been found so far.