The Auschwitz Volunteer
by Captain Witold Pilecki
translated by Jarek
with Introduction by Norman Davies, FBA
and Foreword by Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland
In 1940, the Polish Underground wanted to know what was happening inside the recently opened
Auschwitz concentration camp. Polish army officer Witold Pilecki volunteered to be arrested by the Germans and report from inside the camp. His intelligence reports, smuggled out in 1941, were among
the first eyewitness accounts of Auschwitz atrocities: the extermination of Soviet POWs, its function as a camp for Polish political prisoners, and the "final solution" for Jews. Pilecki
received brutal treatment until he escaped in April 1943; soon after, he wrote a brief report. This book is the first English translation of a 1945 expanded version. In the foreword, Poland's
chief rabbi states, "If heeded, Pilecki's early warnings might have changed the course of history." Pilecki's story was suppressed for half a century after his 1948 arrest by the
Polish Communist regime as a "Western spy." He was executed and expunged from Polish history. Pilecki writes in staccato style but also interjects his observations on humankind's lack
of progress: "We have strayed, my friends, we have strayed dreadfully.... We are a whole level of hell worse than animals!"
Includes more than 80 black and white photos, maps and illustrations; contextualizing historical material; brief Selected
Highlights of the Report; four appendices: Glossary, list of German-Language Ranks and Positions at Auschwitz mentioned by Pilecki, identification of most of the people and places for which Pilecki
used code numbers or letters, and a Chronology of the Report; Discussion Questions; Index.