Entitled The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz, the book last week received the 2019 Costa Biography Award in the UK.
In an introduction to the excerpt from the book, The Times writes: “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 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 Costa Book Award is one of the most prestigious literary accolades in the UK.
It is given out in five categories: novel, first novel, poetry, biography and children’s book.
The five winning authors are eligible for the ultimate prize, the 2019 Costa Book of the Year, which will be announced on January 28.
Jack Fairweather’s book has been hailed by critics as a landmark account of one of the greatest unsung heroes of the Second World War, who is known as the victim of two totalitarian systems.
In 2008 Captain Pilecki received posthumously the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish state distinction. In 2013 he was posthumously promoted to the rank of colonel.