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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Tribute to Polish WWII hero slain by communists

13.05.2021 11:10
Officials and historians have paid tribute to Witold Pilecki, a Polish WWII resistance fighter who was born 120 years ago and died at the hands of the communists soon after the war.
Witold Pilecki
Witold PileckiPAP/ARCH Universal Art Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Pilecki, who was born on May 13, 1901, 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 in 1943. He reached Warsaw where he fought in the city's 1944 uprising against the Germans.

120 lat temu urodził się rotmistrz Witold Pilecki - wielki bohater walk z dwoma totalitaryzmami, a przed wojną...

Posted by Instytut Pamięci Narodowej on Wednesday, May 12, 2021

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.

Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted on Thursday: "Witold Pilecki was born 120 years ago today. A great Pole. A true hero."

Duda added that Pilecki's memory would be honoured by projecting his image onto the façade of the presidential palace in Warsaw in the evening.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR, PAP