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Tribute to Polish WWII hero who escaped from Auschwitz 80 years ago

26.04.2023 12:30
Officials and historians have paid tribute to Witold Pilecki, a Polish World War II resistance fighter who escaped from Auschwitz 80 years ago.
Witold Pilecki
Witold PileckiPAP/ARCH Universal Art Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Pilecki is remembered as "the Auschwitz volunteer" and a victim of two totalitarian systems.

In 1940, he volunteered to be captured and sent to the Auschwitz Nazi German concentration camp on an intelligence mission.

His reports from Auschwitz provided an insight into the conditions at the camp and warned the world about German plans to exterminate European Jews.

Pilecki escaped from Auschwitz on the night of April 26, 1943, according to historians. He reached Warsaw where he fought in the city's 1944 uprising against the Germans.

After the war he went to Italy and joined the Polish armed forces in the West. He then returned to communist-ruled Poland as an intelligence agent.

He was captured and executed by Poland’s communist authorities three years after the end of World War II, following a show trial in which he was charged with espionage and plans to assassinate several communist security service officials.

Pilecki was handed a death sentence by a Warsaw court on March 15, 1948.

In 1990, he was rehabilitated and in 2008 posthumously awarded the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish state decoration. In 2013, he was posthumously promoted to the rank of colonel.


Source: IAR, PAP, IPN, polskieradio.pl

Click on the audio player above to listen to a report by Radio Poland's Agnieszka Bielawska.