VITE History Channel. Part 25. Heroes of WW2. Witold Pilecki: One Of The Greatest Wartime Heroes
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Witold, Witold, who knows his name?
Inmate in hell or a hero in prison?
Soldier in Auschwitz who knows his name
Locked in a cell, waging war from the prison
Hiding in Auschwitz who hides behind 4859
//Excerpt from song «Inmate 4859» about Witold Pilecki
Full song with subtitles:
Witold Pilecki (13 May 1901 – 25 May 1948; codenames Roman Jezierski, Tomasz Serafiński, Druh, Witold) was a Polish cavalry officer, intelligence agent, and resistance leader. He served as a Rotmistrz (captain) with the Polish Army in the Polish–Soviet War, Second Polish Republic, and World War II. He was also a co-founder of the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska), a resistance group in German-occupied Poland, and later a member of the underground Home Army (Armia Krajowa). He was the author of Witold's Report, the first comprehensive Allied intelligence report on Auschwitz concentration camp and the Holocaust.
The report includes details about the gas chambers, "selektion", and the sterilization experiments. It states that there were three crematoria in Birkenau able to burn 8000 people daily. Raul Hilberg wrote that the Office of Strategic Services in London, which received the report, filed it away with a note that there was no indication as to its reliability.
Pilecki's Report preceded and supplemented the "Polish Major's Report" by Jerzy Tabeau (who escaped with Roman Cieliczko on 19 November 1943 and compiled the report between December 1943 and January 1944), the earliest of the three eyewitness reports known jointly as the Auschwitz Protocols which warned about the mass murder and other atrocities that were taking place inside the camp.
During World War II, Pilecki volunteered for a Polish resistance operation that involved being imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp in order to gather intelligence and later escape. While in the camp, he organized a resistance movement and informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz atrocities as early as 1941. He escaped from the camp in 1943 after nearly 2½ years of imprisonment. He took part as a combatant in the Warsaw Uprising in August–October 1944. He remained loyal to the London-based Polish government-in-exile after the Communist takeover of Poland, and he was arrested for espionage in 1947 by the Stalinist secret police (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa) on charges of working for "foreign imperialism", a euphemism for British Intelligence. He was executed after a show trial in 1948. Information was suppressed about his exploits and fate until 1989 by the Communist regime in Poland.
Pilecki is considered as "one of the greatest wartime heroes" because of his efforts. Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich writes in The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery: "When God created the human being, God had in mind that we should all be like Captain Witold Pilecki, of blessed memory."British historian Norman Davies writes: "If there was an Allied hero who deserved to be remembered and celebrated, this was a person with few peers."Polish ambassador Ryszard Schnepf described Pilecki as a "diamond among Poland's heroes" and "the highest example of Polish patriotism" at the commemoration event of International Holocaust Remembrance Day held in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum on 27 January 2013.