Can we, people of the twentieth century, dare look those who lived before us in the face and claim our superiority - Witold Pilecki
He was born in 1901. Before the war, Witold Pilecki managed his family estate in Poland’s Eastern Borderlands. When the Second Polish Republic collapsed, he immediately joined the underground resistance. He was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1940 of his own accord and with the consent of his commanders. He stayed there for over two and a half years, organizing a secret network and sending reports on conditions and the situation in the camp as well as the annihilation of Jews to the Polish underground.
After his daring escape from Auschwitz, Pilecki worked for the Home Army’s Directorate for Sabotage and Subversion (Kedyw). In 1944, he took part in the Warsaw Uprising, and was captured and deported to Germany upon its defeat. He returned to Poland, now controlled by the communists, in 1945 as an emissary of General Władysław Anders, tasked with setting up an intelligence network. Arrested in 1947 by the Security Office, he was brutally tortured during interrogations and sentenced to death in a show trial. The sentence was carried out on 25 May 1948.
Cavalry captain Witold Pilecki challenged two totalitarianisms: the Nazism and Communism. He was a victim of both these criminal regimes. He is a paragon of patriotism, courage, love of freedom, and solidarity with the persecuted – universal values shared by all people and fundamental to the Western tradition.
By courtesy of the family of Witold Pilecki – Zofia Pilecka-Optułowicz, Andrzej Pilecki and professor Edward Radwański and his wife – Pilecki Institute has a honor of being named after him.
photo: family archive