Can you imagine a person so caring?
Can you imagine a person so daring?
Can you imagine a person so bold
as Polish Army Captain Pilecki, Witold.
Pilecki volunteered for a prison with “no exits
except through the chimney” — concentration camp Auschwitz.
For many years, his story was suppressed
because of the influence of communists.
No fatalist he. He had great cause to live –
a wife and two fine kids — but he wanted to give
the entire world a chance of a better future,
and of this Auschwitz, he was not quite sure.
He needed to be inside to investigate
before it would become, sadly, too late.
Born in Russia, May 13, 1901,
Witold Pilecki was a cherished son
in a family that was resettled forcibly
after Poland’s uprising in 1863.
His family returned to Poland in 1910
where Witold joined a unit for self-defense.
After Poland fell in the World War II blitz,
Pilecki became quite suspicious about Auschwitz.
In September, 1940, with false identity
as someone named Tomasz Serafinski,
he inserted himself among arrested “extremists”
who were bound for the concentration camp, Auschwitz.
Assigned the Auschwitz number, 4859,
Pilecki put an organization in line
of five-man teams working for rebellion.
Within a month, they smuggled information
(in German dirty laundry) to their headquarters station,
and asked for permission to foster a rebellion.
They warned of Hitler’s plan to exterminate all Jews –
but even their people did not believe that news.
The gas chambers were reported in 1941,
but no one believed them and, therefore, nothing was done.
The report was forwarded to the Allied commanders,
but they thought “pursue the war” was the proper answer.
In Spring, 1943, when the SS began
to arrest some of Pilecki’s top-level men,
he got the idea that nothing would ever be done,
that now was the time for him to “cut and run.”
That night, he ran away from his work at the bakery
with two other men, and they all made it to safety.
Unable to convince the Home Army or the Allies
to attack Auschwitz, since each of the groups surmised
the effort was futile and many lives would be lost,
Pilecki went underground where he could help most.
In the Warsaw Rebellion of 1944,
Pilecki again became a prisoner of war.
Freed by the Allies in July, 1945,
his Poland was now Russian occupied.
With Poland ruled by hated Communists,
he formed another group that he hoped could resist.
In May ’47, the Communist police
arrested him, and he would not be released.
For six months he was tortured with rare intermissions,
and finally forced to sign a false confession.
In a show trial, found guilty of crimes against the state,
Pilecki was executed in May, 1948.
“I found happiness … from the realization that this fight was worth it,”
Pilecki said as he stood to hear the verdict.
© 2014, cbs