It is the story of a Pole’s struggle against two inhuman regimes – National Socialism and Communism. Witold Pilecki, born in 1901, fought against the Nazis when they occupied Poland in the autumn of 1939, and thereafter, when the Polish state and army were forced to go underground. He went voluntarily into Auschwitz on a secret mission to explore the camp, send reports back to the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), and organize resistance. Pilecki’s reports, which have recently been published in English (2012) and German (2013), did, however, not lead to the hoped-for response from the Allies.
Pilecki managed to escape from the camp. After the war, he continued to fight for Polish independence but was arrested, together with his comrades, and sentenced to death by the newly-established communist regime. He was executed on 25th May 1948. In Poland, only after the collapse of communism in 1989 has it become possible for Pilecki’s story to be told and discussed in public.
Timothy Snyder, Bird White Housum Professor of History, Yale University; IWM Permanent Fellow
Paweł Kosiński, Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warsaw
Philipp Ther (Chair), Professor for European History, University of Vienna
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Further Details: Polnisches Institut Wien
In cooperation with the Polish Institute in Vienna and the Instytut Pamięci Narodowej in Warsaw