The Witold Pilecki International Book Award 2023 presented! - Instytut Pileckiego

01.12.2023 (Fri) 09:00

The Witold Pilecki International Book Award 2023 presented!

The winners of this year’s Witold Pilecki International Book Award are Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych, Bartłomiej Noszczak and Zbigniew Parafianowicz. The statuettes, awards and honorable mentions were presented during a gala in Ujazdów Castle.

“In this year’s third edition, the Witold Pilecki International Book Award is presented in three categories: academic history book, historical reportage, as well as a special prize for the best book on Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine since 2014,” said Prof. Magdalena Gawin, director of the Pilecki Institute, during the awards ceremony.

Prof. Magdalena Gawin, director of the Pilecki Institute

“Witold Pilecki wrote his reports so that the whole world could learn what was happening in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Today, journalists are going to Ukraine to describe what is happening on the front lines. This category is our tribute to those journalists and reporters,” Prof. Gawin added.

Award for “Academic History Book”

This category awards the best monograph or synthesis concerning the Polish experience of the confrontation with two 20th-century totalitarian regimes. The winner of the best monograph was “Dziecko wobec Zagłady. Instytucjonalna opieka nad sierotami w getcie warszawskim” by Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych, published by the Jewish Historical Institute.
Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych, author of “Dziecko wobec Zagłady. Instytucjonalna opieka nad sierotami w getcie warszawskim”
Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych’s work examines the lives of children and their carers in orphanages and boarding schools in the Warsaw Ghetto, and is the first to discuss this topic in a comprehensive manner, expanding existing knowledge of the tragic fate of Warsaw’s Jews.

“It was so important to me to name the educators, directors, doctors, nurses who were with the children. That was the first group I wanted to bring out of the shadows. The second was the children, and that was much more difficult, because there were very few of these names, surnames, and micro-histories,” said Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych.

Agnieszka Witkowska-Krych works at the Jewish Historical Institute and the Institute of Polish Culture at the University of Warsaw. Her research focuses on the history and culture of Warsaw’s Jews.

Interview with the author on the Pilecki Institute’s Facebook profile.

Honorable mentions for “Academic History Book”

Two publications received honorable mentions in the Academic History Book category: “Survivors: Warsaw under Nazi Occupation (Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare)”, by Jadwiga Biskupska (Cambridge University Press), and “Sowietyzacja Wołynia 1944–1956” by Adam Rafał Kaczyński (Institute of National Remembrance).

Award for “Historical Reportage”

The Witold Pilecki International Book Award for the best work of “Historical Reportage” was awarded to Bartłomiej Noszczak, author of “Orient zesłańców. Bliski Wschód w oczach Polaków ewakuowanych ze Związku Sowieckiego (1942–1945)”, published by the Institute of National Remembrance.
Bartłomiej Noszczak, author of “Orient zesłańców. Bliski Wschód w oczach Polaków ewakuowanych ze Związku Sowieckiego (1942–1945)”
The evacuation of Anders’ Army from the Soviet Union to Iran became the salvation of thousands of people who moved straight from the “Inhuman Land” to an unknown, culturally different world. Bartłomiej Noszczak tells the story of how Poles, in the throes of newly regained freedom, discovered the people, places and nature of the Middle East in the context of the ongoing war.

“Polish citizens mainly from the Eastern Borderlands – victims of Soviet deportations –positively verified their generally superficial perceptions of the Orient. Familiarizing themselves with the nature of this region, with all its charms and exotic mysteries, took place without the ballast of chauvinism and cultural superiority. The Polish refugees had lost almost everything materially, but they regained a sense of the freedom they had lost in the Soviet Union and embarked on a colorful ‘journey of a lifetime’ through the Middle East,
where they felt they could count on the selfless help of other human beings, apparent ‘strangers’”, Bartłomiej Noszczak said about his book in an interview with the Pilecki Institute.

Bartłomiej Noszczak works at the Institute of National Remembrance. His research focuses on the Polish experience of confronting communism.

Interview with the author on the Pilecki Institute’s Facebook profile.

Honorable mention for “Historical Reportage”

In the same category, “Akwarium. Opowieść o Związku Literatów Polskich w PRL-u” by Tomasz Potkaj (Wydawnictwo Czarne), received an honorable mention. In his report, the author paints a picture of the Union of Polish Writers, which the Communist authorities tried to use to control writers. In the era of the Polish People’s Republic, literature was a tool of Communist propaganda on the one hand, and a space for manifesting resistance against the totalitarian state on the other.

Award for third category – “special prize”

The special prize for works detailing Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine since 2014 or the protests in Belarus since 2020 and the repression associated with them was awarded to Zbigniew Parafianowicz for “Śniadanie pachnie trupem. Ukraina na wojnie”, published by Wydawnictwo Mando.
Zbigniew Parafianowicz, author of “Śniadanie pachnie trupem. Ukraina na wojnie”
On 24 February 2022, Zbigniew Parafianowicz was in Kyiv, where he witnessed both the Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invasion and the initial disorientation of Western countries regarding Russia’s actions. Through a series of interviews with diplomats, soldiers, artists and ordinary citizens, he paints a picture of a society measuring itself against the war, seeking to understand the sources of the Ukrainians’ determination.

“I have been covering Ukraine as a journalistic topic since 2003. That is, since the late Kuchma era. I was planning to write a political profile of Volodymyr Zelensky. The outbreak of war changed the optics. The report was written by the events themselves. I only followed them,” Zbigniew Parafianowicz explained in an interview with the Institute.

“For me, Zbigniew Parafianowicz’s book shows that, unfortunately, after more than 70 years, war has returned to Europe and has become part of our reality. Perhaps also part of our future. And this is not a pleasant statement. Many would like to escape it, to close their eyes and shut it out. I think ‘Śniadanie pachnie trupem’ does not allow us to close our eyes,” said Prof. Marek Cichocki, a member of the Awards Committee, when presenting the award.

Zbigniew Parafianowicz is a journalist for “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” and co-author of books about Petro Poroshenko and Viktor Yanukovych. He has been covering Ukrainian affairs since 2003.

Interview with the author on the Pilecki Institute’s Facebook profile.

Honorable mentions in the third category – “special prize”

Two publications received honorable mentions in the special prize category: “Opór. Ukraińcy wobec rosyjskiej inwazji” by Paweł Pieniążek (WAB), and “You Don’t Know What War Is. The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine” by Yeva Skalietska (Union Square Publishing House).

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The Pilecki Award

In 2021, the Witold Pilecki Institute of Solidarity and Valor began cooperation with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim to inaugurate the Witold Pilecki International Book Award to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Pilecki’s birth. He became the patron of the prize by dint of his reports from Auschwitz-Birkenau, which recalled the crimes committed there by the Germans, described the events and contained in-depth analyses and humanistic reflection on the situation in the camp.

The Witold Pilecki International Book Award is presented to authors of the best academic and reportage books published in Polish or English in a given year that touch on the Polish experience of two totalitarianisms.

The Awards Committee includes Dr. Piotr Cywiński (Chair), Dr. Łukasz Adamski, Prof. Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski, Prof. Marek Cichocki, Prof. Magdalena Gawin, Prof. Patrycja Grzebyk, Prof. Marek Kornat, Dr. Wojciech Stanisławski, Prof. Claudia Weber, war correspondent Jack Fairweather and a representative of the family of the patron of the award, Witold Pilecki’s great-grandson Krzysztof Kosior.

The winners receive a prize of PLN 40,000 and a commemorative statuette. Authors of works that receive an honorable mention are given a prize of PLN 15,000.

More about the Pilecki Award

See also