Historian Timothy Snyder (Yale University),
in conversation with Museum Director David G. Marwell
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - Thursday, February 28, 2013, 7:00 PM
Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 7:00 PM
Museum of Jewish Heritage
36 Battery Place, New York, NY
Admission: Free with suggested donation
The 19th of September 1940 - the second street round-up in Warsaw.
There are a few people still alive who saw me go alone at 6:00 a.m. to the corner of Aleja Wojska and Felinskiego Street and join the "fives" of captured men drawn up by the SS. - Witold Pilecki
Thus begins the saga of Witold Pilecki, a Captain in the Polish Home Army, a man with a wife and two children, who volunteered to be captured by German officers and taken to Auschwitz, from which he would smuggle out reports about conditions inside the camp. Beginning in 1940, he organized inmates to infiltrate the camp leadership, helped maintain morale among the prisoners by making them aware that they had not been forgotten by Polish forces on the outside, and planned to foment a rebellion and an escape with the assistance of the Home Army and the Polish Government in Exile. In 1943, he did manage to escape himself, maintaining his own physical condition after three years in Auschwitz to slip past a guard while out on a baking detail. The Home Army, however, never had adequate strength in the region to support an uprising from within the camp without risking a massacre.
On the outside Pilecki held off a German panzer division for two weeks in the 1944 Warsaw Rising, then hiding out until he was taken prisoner. After the war, he returned to Poland as a spy for the Polish Government in Exile in support of anti-Communist organizations, and was eventually arrested by the Communists, tortured, tried, and executed as a traitor in 1948, to be rehabilitated as a hero only in the 1990s after the fall of Communism in Poland.
The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery (Tr. Jarek Garlinski, Aquila Polonica, 2012) is the translation of Pilecki's third and most comprehensive first hand report, written in 1945, describing conditions inside Auschwitz, the execution of Soviet prisoners of war, the building of the gas chambers, and the mass killing of Jews.
The Polish Cultural Institute New York is proud to join the Museum of Jewish Heritage for a discussion of The Auschwitz Volunteer, led by Prof. Timothy Snyder from Yale University, author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, and frequent contributor to many publications including the New York Review of Books.
The discussion of The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery is presented by The Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and the Polish Cultural Institute New York in collaboration with Aquila Polonica publishers.
Read Timothy Snyder's review in the New York Times
Read David De Sola's review in The Atlantic Monthly
Read Rob Eshman's review in Jewish Journal
Read Brian Bethune's review in Maclean's
Read the Publishers' Weekly review
A History Book Club selection
Prof. Snyder on WOR710's Rita Cosby Show (audio)
More about Witold Pilecki