Capt. Witold Pilecki Volunteered For Auschwitz
Witold Pilecki was born in 1901 near Lake Ladoga in Northern Russia into a family of Polish patriots that was deported by the Russian Tsar during the Russian occupation of Poland.
And he later became one of the true unsung heroes of the Second World War!
His military career began in 1918 when he joined the Polish forces created in Wilno (Vilnius), and their task was to attempt to protect the city from a Communist takeover.
He fought in the cavalry throughout the Polish-Soviet war of 1920 until Poland’s victory, and was part of the successful battle to reclaim Wilno which was led by General Zeligowski.
Throughout the campaign Pilecki demonstrated exemplary courage and military skill that twice earned him the Cross of Valor.
Called Up To Serve In WW2
After a tranquil existence as a landowner during the inter-war years he was called up to fight again in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and he served as a cavalry platoon commander.
He fought until the end of the campaign and his command’s kills included seven armored vehicles, which was considered truly outstanding.
Witold Pilecki Joins The Underground
After the completion of this campaign Witold became one of the founders of the Tajna Armia Polska – TAP (the Polish Secret Army) which was an underground resistance group in occupied Poland.
Rumors About Auschwitz Begin
In 1940 dark rumors began circulating about a place named Auschwitz.
Little was known about it other than it was a hard labor/prison camp where the Germans were transporting thousands of Poles, mainly those suspected of being members of the underground, but also intellectuals, and basically anybody that might possibly be a member of the underground.
The Plan To Infiltrate Auschwitz
Pilecki came up with a daring plan to investigate what was going on in Auschwitz, and to try to create an underground organization within it, and with the permission of the Polish underground command he proceeded to execute it.
The plan was simple enough but would require incredible bravery and sacrifice.
Get imprisoned by the Germans, and then be deported to Auschwitz, and this happened on the 19th of September, 1940, in Warsaw.
And it occurred within a few short days following Witold’s arrest, after which Pilecki was an intern in Auschwitz under the name of Tomasz Serafinski.
His Auschwitz number was 4859.
Witold Pileckski’s Time In And His Escape From Auschwitz
During the next few years until his escape on the 27th of April, 1943, Pilecki actively worked in the Auschwitz underground.
He worked to unite the various political groups existing in the camp, created the camp Combat Organization which could lead a rebellion in case the Germans tried to exterminate the prisoners.
He also collected information about the workings of the camp, information on those Germans who played the biggest part in the atrocities and also information on the fate of the Jewish transports that began arriving as part of the Final Solution.
After his escape he continued working in the Polish underground, and eventually became a member of the ultra secret anti-communist “Nie” (No), an organization that documented numerous activities, in case the Soviet/Communist were to occupy Poland.
Although Pilecki was no longer a member of the official underground movement, hw fought as a private during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 in one of the toughest sectors of the city.
Capture, Arrest And Final Recognition
Pilecki was eventually captured by the Communists after the war, and on the 25th of May, 1948 he was executed.
But because Pilecki was blacklisted by the Communist regime he remained one of the unknown heroes of the Second World War.
For a grea many years, his name and his legend only survived in the Polish emigrant community in the West.