Witold Pilecki

a Captain in the Polish Cavalry, source: Polish Press Agency


Captain Witold Pilecki as a prisoner of the German concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, source: Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

Witold Pilecki (born May 13, 1901 in Ołońc in Russia, died May 25, 1948 in Warsaw). As a volunteer, he fought in the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1920 near Warsaw. In September 1939, as an officer of the Polish Army, Pilecki fought with Germans, then he joined the underground Secret Polish Army. On September 19, 1940 he voluntarily let himself be captured by the German police under the name of Tomasz Serafiński and was taken to the German concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the camp, Pilecki created the underground Union of Military Organizations. One of their goals was to organize escapes and intelligence activities. The reports Pilecki wrote are of key importance. In them he described the scale of crimes committed by the Germans on Auschwitz prisoners. In April 1943, Pilecki escaped from the camp. He fought in the Warsaw Uprising. After the war he participated in secret anti-communist conspiracy. The communist secret police arrested Pilecki in May 1947. During the imprisonment he was brutally tortured. He managed to get a message out of the jail were he said, that his suffering in Auschwitz was nothing by comparison to what he underwent in the Communist jail. A Communist Military Court sentenced him to death. The verdict was carried out on May 25, 1948.


Jan Karski

a soldier of the Home Army, he prepared a report on the extermination of the Jewish nation by the Germans in occupied Poland, source: Polish Press Agency.

Jan Karski, real name Jan Romuald Kozielewski (born June 24, 1914 in Łódź, died July 13, 2000 in Washington) pseudonym “Witold” or “Piasecki”. A graduate of the Faculty of Law and Diplomacy at the University of Lwów. He fought in defense of Poland in September 1939. He got out of captivity and fled to Warsaw, where he began to work in the underground Home Army (AK). A soldier of the AK and the Front for the Rebirth of Poland. He managed to get into the ghetto in Warsaw twice and in to the German transit camp in Izbica, from where Jews were sent to the German death camps. Karski prepared a report on the extermination of the Jewish nation by the Germans in occupied Poland. The document was sent to the British Foreign Minister Eden and to the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite this shocking testimony, the Allies remained passive. It was only after the liberation of the German camps that Karski's reports were believed. After the war, Jan Karski stayed in the USA and was a lecturer at Georgetown University. On June 2, 1982, the Israeli Institute Yad Vashem awarded Karski the title of Righteous Among the Nations.


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