Apply by May 31 | The Witold Pilecki International Book Award. The third edition (2023) - Instytut Pileckiego



27.03.2023 (Mon) 09:00

Apply by May 31 | The Witold Pilecki International Book Award. The third edition (2023)

The Pilecki Institute and its partner, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim, have announced a call for entries for the third edition of the Witold Pilecki International Book Award.

The award is presented to authors of the best scholarly and reportage books published in 2022 in Polish or English that examine the Polish experience of two totalitarian systems. In addition, in view of the dramatic events unfolding beyond Poland’s eastern border, the special prize at this edition will be awarded to books on Russia’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine or illustrating the ongoing protests in Belarus following the rigged presidential elections in 2020.



As a soldier, resistance fighter, true hero and a man of action, Witold Pilecki may not seem like an obvious choice for a patron of a literary prize. His famous reports, however, are more than a source of invaluable information on the functioning of Auschwitz-Birkenau: through his expressive style, Pilecki also offers an in-depth analysis of the situation in the camp and a broader humanist perspective. While providing information about specific events – the atrocities committed by the Germans in occupied Poland during World War II – the reports also serve as a testimony to the whole era.

By awarding the Witold Pilecki International Book Award we aim to recognize the significance of the universal message stemming from the experience of the 20th-century totalitarianisms. We wish to acknowledge texts which promote the fundamental values of human dignity, striving for the truth, willingness to sacrifice, and solidarity with the persecuted. This year, the special prize for war correspondents will go to an author reporting on events in Ukraine or Belarus. This is our way to empathize with Ukrainians and Belarusians fighting for freedom and defending human dignity. We appreciate the work of all those who provide us with reliable information about this struggle and help us understand its context.

We honor original academic works and excellent reportages. We wish to celebrate books which explore the subject extensively, bringing it to wide audiences.

The prize will be awarded internationally. Eligible for nomination in each category are books written in Polish or English




The partner of the award is the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim.



1) Academic history book – the best monograph or synthesis concerning the Polish experience of the confrontation with two 20th-century totalitarian regimes. The prize will be awarded to well-researched books comprising an original interpretation and written in an appealing way.

Entries submitted in this category shall be published in 2022 in Polish or English and include back matter. The books whose translations into Polish or English appeared in 2022 may also be submitted provided that the first edition in the original language was not published earlier than in 2017. Joint publications in the form of edited volumes shall not be taken into account. In the case of other multi-authored publications, books by no more than two authors may be entered for the competition.

2) Historical reportage – a captivating depiction of the Polish experience of two 20th-century totalitarianisms. In addition to classic historical reportages, entries in this category may include biographies, collections of accounts, memoirs and correspondence of witnesses to history. The prize will be awarded for respectful approach to historical sources, well-organized composition and unbiased narrative.

Entries submitted in this category shall be published in 2022 in Polish or English. The books whose translations into Polish or English appeared in 2022 may also be submitted provided that the first edition in the original language was not published earlier than in 2017. In the case of other multi-authored publications, books by no more than two authors may be entered for the competition.

3) In the current edition, the special prize will be awarded to a book detailing Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine since 2014 or the protests in Belarus since 2020 and the repression associated with them. When evaluating books in this category, a broad scope of reflection, determination in the pursuit of truth, and investigative intuition will be particularly appreciated. The competition is open to books published between 2022 and 2023 in Polish or English (translations are also permitted). In the case of books with multiple authors, titles with no more than two co-authors may be submitted.



Submissions can be made by authors, publishers, or individuals, as well as legal entities or unincorporated organizational units by sending an electronic version of the book (in PDF format; if the book has been published as an e-book, please also send the files in epub and mobi formats) to the following e-mail address:
Please indicate the category of the submission.

The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2023.

Download the detailed regulations of the competition and information clause on personal data processing (attachments below).



Dr. Łukasz Adamski – a historian and political scientist, specializing in the history of Eastern European countries and analysis of their current political situation. Deputy director of the Mieroszewski Center. Rapporteur for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine in 2014. Author of Nacjonalista postępowy. Mychajło Hruszewski i jego poglądy na Polskę i Polaków (2011) among others.

Prof. Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski – historian specializing in the history of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Lecturer at University College London and visiting professor at Natolin European Centre. Author of, i.a., The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1733–1795: Light and Flame (2021) and The Polish Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1788-1792: A Political History (2012).

Prof. Marek Cichocki – political scientist and philosopher, expert on Polish-German relations and European integration. Lecturer at Collegium Civitas. Author of, i.a., Walka o świat (2022) and Północ i Południe. Teksty o polskiej kulturze i historii (2018). Winner of, i.a., the Józef Mackiewicz Literary Award.

dr Piotr Cywiński – historian, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and Chairman of the Board of the Museum – Memorial Site of KL Plaszow. Author of, i.a., Auschwitz. A Monograph on the Human (2022) and Marsz śmierci w pamięci ewakuowanych więźniów Auschwitz (2016).

Jack Fairweather – journalist, writer and war correspondent. Author of, i.a., The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero Who Infiltrated Auschwitz (2019) and The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan (2014). Winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award.

Prof. Magdalena Gawin – a historian and essayist specializing in the history of the 20th and 21st centuries. Initiator and director of the Pilecki Institute, academic at the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Author of Spór o równouprawnienie kobiet (1864–1919) (2015) and Rasa i nowoczesność. Historia polskiego ruchu eugenicznego (1880–1952) (2003) among others.

Prof. Patrycja Grzebyk – lawyer and political scientist specializing in international criminal law. Lecturer at the University of Warsaw. Author of, i.a., Cele osobowe i rzeczowe w konfliktach zbrojnych w świetle prawa międzynarodowego (2018) and Criminal Responsibility for the Crime of Aggression (2013). Winner of the Manfred Lachs Award for the best monograph on international law.

Prof. Marek Kornat – researcher specializing in the Polish political thought of the 19th and 20th centuries, Sovietologist. Head of the Section for the History of Diplomacy and Totalitarian Systems at the Polish Academy of Sciences and lecturer at Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University. Author of, i.a., Poland and the Origins of the Second World War. A Study in Diplomatic History (1938–1939) (2021) and Niższość cywilizacyjna wrogiego narodu. Niemieckie dyskursy o Polsce i Polakach 1919–1945 (2020). Winner of, i.a., the Jerzy Giedroyć Award.

Krzysztof Kosior – representative of the patron’s family, great-grandson of Witold Pilecki. Participant of numerous social and educational projects, devoted particularly to the youth.

Dr. Wojciech Stanisławski – historian, expert on the history of the Soviet Union, Central Europe and Western Balkans. His articles were published in, i.a., “Aspen Review”, “Nowa Europa Wschodnia”, “Nowe Książki” and “Rzeczpospolita”.

Prof. Claudia Weber – historian. Lecturer at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder). Author of, i.a., Der Pakt. Stalin, Hitler und die Geschichte einer mörderischen Allianz 1939–1941 (2019) and Krieg der Täter. Die Massenerschießungen von Katyń (2015).

In each category, 5 entries will be shortlisted by the jury who will subsequently choose the winners. The Award Committee may also award up to two honorable mentions in each category.



The authors of the best books in each category will receive a cash prize of PLN 40,000 and a commemorative statuette. Authors of commended books will receive a cash prize of PLN 15,000. The prizes and honorable mentions will be awarded at a gala ceremony in November 2023.

In the second edition of the competition, the Witold Pilecki International Book Award was presented to Joanna Lubecka, Andrzej Brzeziecki and Tomaš Forró. Read the report from the award ceremony in 2022.

See also