web site hit counter The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz

Availability: Ready to download

How do you keep fighting in the face of unimaginable horror? This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interred at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich. H How do you keep fighting in the face of unimaginable horror? This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interred at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich. His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre -- Auschwitz. It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi’s terrifying designs. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities to the West, culminating in the mass murder of over a million Jews. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust - yet his story was all but forgotten for decades. This is the first major account of his amazing journey, drawing on exclusive family papers and recently declassified files as well as unpublished accounts from the camp’s fighters to show how he saved hundreds of thousands of lives. The result is a enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man’s attempt to change the course of history.


Compare

How do you keep fighting in the face of unimaginable horror? This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interred at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich. H How do you keep fighting in the face of unimaginable horror? This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interred at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich. His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre -- Auschwitz. It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi’s terrifying designs. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities to the West, culminating in the mass murder of over a million Jews. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust - yet his story was all but forgotten for decades. This is the first major account of his amazing journey, drawing on exclusive family papers and recently declassified files as well as unpublished accounts from the camp’s fighters to show how he saved hundreds of thousands of lives. The result is a enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man’s attempt to change the course of history.

30 review for The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    In 2003 my wife and I visited Krakow, Poland as part of a trip to locate where my father’s family lived before immigrating to the United States in the 1930s to escape the dark clouds that were descending upon Europe. During our visit I hired a driver and spent hours visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau the resting place for many relatives that I never was fortunate enough to meet. Seventy-five years after the conclusion of World War II, numerous questions abound concerning the then then “crown jewel” In 2003 my wife and I visited Krakow, Poland as part of a trip to locate where my father’s family lived before immigrating to the United States in the 1930s to escape the dark clouds that were descending upon Europe. During our visit I hired a driver and spent hours visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau the resting place for many relatives that I never was fortunate enough to meet. Seventy-five years after the conclusion of World War II, numerous questions abound concerning the then then “crown jewel” of Hitler’s extermination machine. Books continue to proliferate, but what sets Jack Fairweather’s new book, THE VOLUNTEER: ONE MAN, AN UNDERGROUND ARMY, AND THE SECRET MISSION TO DESTROY AUSCHWITZ apart is his discovery of the role of Witold Pilecki, who volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz in order to organize an underground resistance that would be part of a major revolt against the Germans. Pilecki has become a national hero in Poland and his story remained unknown in the west until it was uncovered by historians in the 1960s and 70s. Much of his writings were sealed by the Soviet Union after the war because as a Polish nationalist, Pilecki was deemed a threat to the state, placed on trial and executed by the Stalinist regime. It wasn’t until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the opening of the state archives in Warsaw that the academic Adam Cyra and Pilecki’s 60 year old son, Andrzej had access to his father’s writings and reports smuggled out of Auschwitz in order to alert the allies as to what was occurring in the crematoria and gas chambers, and argue for the west to bomb the camps. Fairweather asks a number of important questions from the outset that impinge upon the role of England and the United States as it learned of the extermination camps. He carefully develops a number of important themes that reverberate throughout the narrative. First, despite Pilecki’s earnest efforts, that included being tortured, beaten, starved, suffering from typhus, he was able to employ the Polish underground network to smuggle out the truth as to what was occurring in Auschwitz to underground leaders in Warsaw who were able to convey part of his reports to the Polish government in exile, and hence to the Churchill government in 1942. Much of this information was also communicated to the Roosevelt administration in Washington who was much more of a political animal in deferring any decisions to assist the Jews be it immigration by confronting State Department policies that was openly anti-Semitic under the auspices of Breckinridge Long, or approving bombing of the camp. Second, was the mind set of British politicians in high circles who suffered from an “in-bred” anti-Semitism and saw Pilecki’s information as a distraction from the main war effort. They would allow the dissemination of some information but would not endorse it. As Richard Breitman and David Wyman have pointed out the British were obsessed by the Palestinian issue and they feared an Arab reaction if they approved further immigration because of their dependence on Middle Eastern oil and the Suez Canal. Lastly, Fairweather’s narrative focuses on Pilecki’s attempt to educate the allies and get them to acknowledge the importance of what was occurring at Auschwitz. On another level he concentrates on the allied response and the reasons for their “deafness” when it came to the extermination of European Jewry. As he concludes, “the allied failure to Understand Auschwitz’s role as the epicenter of the Holocaust allowing officials to continue to characterize the German assault on the Jews ASA a diffuse phenomenon that could only be stopped by defeating Germany.” Downplaying genocide could only inhibit further investigation. Much of what Fairweather argues has been put forth by numerous historians, but the key is the personal story of Witold Pilecki that unfolds. Fairweather has written a deeply personal portrait of a man whose moral and ethical principles stood out in a deeply troubled period. The narrative is based on assiduous research that included interviews with fellow inmates who the author had access, that provide insights into his character, his decision making, and the impact of his actions. Fairweather traces Pilecki’s journey from his quiet family life who survived the Nazi onslaught on his country in September, 1939, experiences in Auschwitz, his methodology in organizing his underground network, strategies for smuggling out information, and how he tried to convince his superiors of the importance of destroying Auschwitz as it was a vehicle to exterminate millions of Jews as well as thousands of Polish Catholics. Many of Pilecki’s compatriots like Dr. Wladyslaw Dering, a Warsaw gynecologist who faced the dilemma of how much he should cooperate with the Nazis as he tried to save as many inmates as possible, a Polish spy known as Napoleon, and Stefan Rowecki, the leader of the Polish underground in Warsaw are introduced as are the kapos, like Alois Staller who tortured the inmates, the SS Commander, Rudolf Hoss, who ran the camp, among many, and of course the victims who suffered unbearably. Fairweather presents the unfathomable and grisly details that go along with any discussion of the Holocaust that have appeared in historical accounts since the end of World War II, but he delivers them in a concise manner, with much sensitivity and at the same time is able to convey to the reader the importance of Pilecki’s mission to expose what the Nazis were doing in Auschwitz, particularly once the decision for the Final Solution is made in January, 1942 at the Wannsee Conference. If there is a criticism that can be offered is that at times Fairweather is somewhat cavalier about his information, i.e. his description the Battle of the Bulge as a minor hinderance to the allied drive to end the war. Further, he should be careful with his statistics stating that there were 2,000,000 Jews under Nazi control in Poland, the 3,300,000 would be more accurate. Overall, Fairweather has written an important book because he uncovers the role of an important figure who did his best to alarm the world as to what was the end goal of Hitler’s racial war. The fact that Witold Pilecki was kept hidden for so long is the result of another type of extermination, Stalin’s effort to eradicate any Pole who might have been given any credit for liberating their country. Kudos to Fairweather for bringing Pilecki’s story to the fore

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    Although it feels like events of the Holocaust and WWII have been comprehensively written about in numerous accounts, it’s astounding that new stories continue to emerge which present a different angle on this complex history. Virtually unknown accounts of heroism and tragic defeat continue to emerge and this new biographical account of Polish officer Witold Pilecki is one of the most shocking and heart breaking I’ve ever read. After Poland was occupied and Auschwitz (a former Polish army barrac Although it feels like events of the Holocaust and WWII have been comprehensively written about in numerous accounts, it’s astounding that new stories continue to emerge which present a different angle on this complex history. Virtually unknown accounts of heroism and tragic defeat continue to emerge and this new biographical account of Polish officer Witold Pilecki is one of the most shocking and heart breaking I’ve ever read. After Poland was occupied and Auschwitz (a former Polish army barracks) was turned into a German prisoner of war camp, Pilecki and other Polish nationalists devised campaigns to resist their invaders and take back their country. One of the things they needed most was information to convey to what would become the Allied countries to convince them to take action and strike against the Nazis. In order to gather proof about war crimes and form a resistance army from the inside, Pileck volunteered to be captured by the Nazis and taken into Auschwitz. Of course, this was long before anyone knew that it would turn into a death camp responsible for over 1.1 million deaths. Read my full review of The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather on LonesomeReader

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    In an act of near-incomprehensible bravery, Witold Pilecki volunteered to investigate Nazi crimes in Auschwitz. His charge: provide the intelligence that would force the Allied powers to pay attention to the ever more systemic Nazi machinery of imprisonment, slavery, and slaughter. Even in its most basic form, the task was spectacularly dangerous. Each stage of the plan involved the very real threat of death, from his initial arrest, through the transport, and finally the grinding daily life in In an act of near-incomprehensible bravery, Witold Pilecki volunteered to investigate Nazi crimes in Auschwitz. His charge: provide the intelligence that would force the Allied powers to pay attention to the ever more systemic Nazi machinery of imprisonment, slavery, and slaughter. Even in its most basic form, the task was spectacularly dangerous. Each stage of the plan involved the very real threat of death, from his initial arrest, through the transport, and finally the grinding daily life in the camp, where murder was everything from a means of control to a method of entertainment. But Witold wasn't a do-the-minimum kind of guy. Inside Auschwitz, he created and maintained an underground resistance network that worked to keep each other alive, gather information, and smuggle reports to the outside. His descriptions of life within the camp are horrifying, charting Auschwitz's transformation from prison to the epicentre of mass extermination. In this meticulously researched and powerfully written book, Fairweather offers the reader a story of heroism made all the more extraordinary by Witold's just-doing-what-needs-to-be-done attitude. Everyone should read it. ARC via Netgalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    pretty ballsy move by the Costa Awards to name this 'book of the year' when it's essentially an account of the total incompetence displayed by the Allied powers and, especially, Britain. pretty ballsy move by the Costa Awards to name this 'book of the year' when it's essentially an account of the total incompetence displayed by the Allied powers and, especially, Britain.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robert Sheard

    This is the story of Witold Pilecki, which remained lost for many years after the conclusion of WWII. Pilecki was a member of the Polish resistance who volunteered to get arrested and sent to Auschwitz before anyone–not even the Germans–knew what Auschwitz was to become. It recounts his years there, organizing an underground and trying to alert the world, then recounts his return to Warsaw to fight the Germans in their final stand in Poland, only to see the Soviets stroll in afterwards to instal This is the story of Witold Pilecki, which remained lost for many years after the conclusion of WWII. Pilecki was a member of the Polish resistance who volunteered to get arrested and sent to Auschwitz before anyone–not even the Germans–knew what Auschwitz was to become. It recounts his years there, organizing an underground and trying to alert the world, then recounts his return to Warsaw to fight the Germans in their final stand in Poland, only to see the Soviets stroll in afterwards to install a communist government. His years in Auschwitz were spent futilely trying to get anyone (especially England and the USA) to recognize what was happening there and to take action. It's a remarkable story about a man who gave up everything to try to rescue Poland from the madness, only to see his efforts time and again get ignored by those who could have done something about it. It's heartbreaking in so many ways.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    The Volunteer (2019) by Jack Fairweather is the incredibly moving account of Witold Pilecki, a member of the Warsaw resistance during WW2 who voluntarily went into Auschwitz concentration camp in September 1940 to set up a resistance cell, report back to the outside world, and to incite a rebellion. Conditions in Auschwitz were far worse than he could have ever imagined. Brutality, humiliation and death were a fact of everyday life. Try to imagine the worst camp you can, and you'll probably stil The Volunteer (2019) by Jack Fairweather is the incredibly moving account of Witold Pilecki, a member of the Warsaw resistance during WW2 who voluntarily went into Auschwitz concentration camp in September 1940 to set up a resistance cell, report back to the outside world, and to incite a rebellion. Conditions in Auschwitz were far worse than he could have ever imagined. Brutality, humiliation and death were a fact of everyday life. Try to imagine the worst camp you can, and you'll probably still be unable to conceive of the horror. Pilecki’s bravery, endurance and humanity are remarkable. His life after WW2 is even more tragic. Following the fall of the Soviet Union his story has finally emerged. Jack Fairweather’s impeccably researched account of Pilecki’s story won the 2019 Costa biography award. It's a book everyone should read. 4/5 How do you keep fighting in the face of unimaginable horror? This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War.In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interred at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich. His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and raise a secret army to stage an uprising. The name of the detention centre -- Auschwitz.It was only after arriving at the camp that he started to discover the Nazi’s terrifying designs. Over the next two and half years, Witold forged an underground army that smuggled evidence of Nazi atrocities to the West, culminating in the mass murder of over a million Jews. His reports from the camp were to shape the Allies response to the Holocaust - yet his story was all but forgotten for decades. This is the first major account of his amazing journey, drawing on exclusive family papers and recently declassified files as well as unpublished accounts from the camp’s fighters to show how he saved hundreds of thousands of lives.The result is an enthralling story of resistance and heroism against the most horrific circumstances, and one man’s attempt to change the course of history.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    WOW Honestly I didn’t think I would enjoy this book very much. I mean, I knew it would be a good educational book but I really wasn’t convinced I myself would enjoy it, but boy I was wrong. I opened this book to vivid detail and writing that instantly sucked me into the story. It didn’t fit into the stereotypical nonfiction cookie cutter. I definitely think this is a book everyone should read at some point. So many want to just forget all the horrible things that happened during the Holocaust, and WOW Honestly I didn’t think I would enjoy this book very much. I mean, I knew it would be a good educational book but I really wasn’t convinced I myself would enjoy it, but boy I was wrong. I opened this book to vivid detail and writing that instantly sucked me into the story. It didn’t fit into the stereotypical nonfiction cookie cutter. I definitely think this is a book everyone should read at some point. So many want to just forget all the horrible things that happened during the Holocaust, and this book exposes hard truths about this time period. Content: A few swear words, although I was a tiny bit surprised at how clean this was. A few sexually suggestive comments. Let me warn you guys, this book is graphic, and it is very hard to read. It exploits the atrocities and horrors these people went through, and does not shy away from the truth. This book is not for anyone easily disturbed by violence. Happy reading guys! 😁

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    costa Award winner 2019.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The Volunteer – A Gripping Story of Resistance To many of us in the Polish community the story of Witold Pilecki is a very well known story of resistance and heroism. The problem has been the story has never been well known outside of that community. Due to the Russian Occupation of Poland that lasted until 1989, it was not in their interest to allow the stories of Polish heroism in the war came out. After all it was the great patriotic war when Russia came to the aid of Eastern Europe, no mentio The Volunteer – A Gripping Story of Resistance To many of us in the Polish community the story of Witold Pilecki is a very well known story of resistance and heroism. The problem has been the story has never been well known outside of that community. Due to the Russian Occupation of Poland that lasted until 1989, it was not in their interest to allow the stories of Polish heroism in the war came out. After all it was the great patriotic war when Russia came to the aid of Eastern Europe, no mention that they actually enabled the war by being Nazi Allies. This excellently researched and written history of Witold Pilecki who volunteered to enter Auschwitz to gather intelligence and resistance is available in English at last. The Volunteer, researched and written by Jack Fairweather, is an excellent book, that shows how far the Poles went into their resistance. While French resistance is mythologised and over blown, the Polish resistance is rarely mentioned or avoided at best. This is the true story of Witold Pilecki, who voluntarily got arrested by the Germans so that he would be sentenced to Auschwitz. Here he would organise acts of resistance and intelligence from the camp out to the wider world outside of Poland. Pilecki was a reserve army office, who had not been mobilised in the first wave, but had been called up just as the invasion began. Like many of the soldiers he slowly fell back towards Warsaw, with each defeat, even though that Poles did hold out until October. From the beginning the Germans were executing Poles, and committed many war crimes against the civilian population, as well as those in uniform. It was when Pilecki met a fellow devasted officer her knew in Warsaw they resolved to set up a secret army to continue the fight. With the Germans sweeping everything in front of them, Hitler had issued decrees for round ups for those groups, Jews, homosexuals, left-wing activists. They were all being sent to Auschwitz, and it would be Pilecki that would volunteer to be arrested and taken to the camp. When the trainload of prisoners including Pilecki arrived at Auschwitz the guards beat them into the camp and shot others. It became clear that the Germans were intent on reducing all Poles to the state of an underclass known as the untermenschen. Life was brutal and hard and for many short. To ram this home the Germans on Christmas Eve installed a tree festooned with lights, but the presents piled underneath were the bodied of dead Poles. It was Pilecki who found that trainloads of Jews were being taken to farmhouses in the woods and using converted farmhouses as gas chambers. At this time, he was unable to understand that this was the planned beginning of the extermination of Europe’s Jewish Population. Pilecki remained loyal to the Government in Exile, in London and would later be arrested by the Russians. In May 1948, he was shot as a traitor to Poland after a show trial, by the Russians and their Communist friends. His papers and reports had been sealed by the Russians and the archives were sealed until the sixties but were still unavailable to the west until 1991. He has been a hero in Poland, today his name should be known far wider. When the west allowed Russia to commit criminal acts and allowed them to suppress. Unlike in France, where the majority of the population collaborated with the Nazi Conquerors it suited the Western Allies, especially the French, to see these stories covered up. The book finally shines a spotlight on a history some people wanted forgotten. Well done Jack Fairweather you have given light to a story of true heroism.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    For some people simply sitting by the sidelines and watching as things unfold is not in their blood. For some the are compelled to act no matter the personal danger involved. These men and women are all to often forgotten by history. Their actions may save a few or thousands of lives but for some reason, we all too often never know their names. So it is for the thanks of books like The volunteer that not only do we get to learn their names but find out the brave actions they took. When I saw th For some people simply sitting by the sidelines and watching as things unfold is not in their blood. For some the are compelled to act no matter the personal danger involved. These men and women are all to often forgotten by history. Their actions may save a few or thousands of lives but for some reason, we all too often never know their names. So it is for the thanks of books like The volunteer that not only do we get to learn their names but find out the brave actions they took. When I saw this on the shelf at the book store I knew I would have to pick it up. I was aware that someone had chosen to be sent to Auschwitz in the hopes of getting the story out to the rest of the world. But this is where my knowledge ended. Pilecki could have easily kept his head down in the hopes that the carnage being done to his country would pass him by. But for this man that was never going to be an option. When reading this book I often wondered what it takes in our upbringing to make such a decision. Especially when you have a family to think about. But maybe that is the point, such people do these things because they have people they care about. It is with the thought of others that time and again you look death in the face and say just once more. If I can bear this then I can keep going in the hopes of finding a better world for them to live in. I was left astounded, even with everything I knew about this place that one more could keep going even with a way out. It is the sacrifice that others make to help us all. I could not help but wonder, would I do the same in his shoes. Could I in fact, endure such abuse and torment to help people who're names I would never learn and thanks would never come. Am I, in fact, that selfless. Could I, would I. This book contained a great deal of information that I had never read about before. And In learning such facts I could not help be become infuriated. The atrocities that took place in this place that must have been the closets to hell on earth where known. In fact, many of the allied governments knew long before the mass genocide started that things were getting worse. It is in the minds of these powerful men that their lives hung in the balance. But even after learning such things they choose to do nothing. In the hopes of pushing the great evil, they used it as a way to promote the war and have much greater use in propaganda. For them, it was easier to talk about the horrors being done without actually naming them. Is this in fact how governments sell a war to the greater public? I, of course, look back on this in hindsight. Does this make their actions more or less damaging? But here within the pages, the author does his best to give a little of both sides. What he delvers is a story that moved me in a great way. That even in the darkest of hours people will find hope and light. That when the coming tide seems insurmountable some will stand in its way in an attempt to hold back what is to come. The life of Witold Pilecki is one I think should be taught in all schools when they are learning about what took place in Poland during world war two. He stands out as a beacon of hope and daring. For my part when at school we were only told of the destruction of this country and its people. But here we get to see that the human spirit burn at it's brightest. He is an example of all that is good in the human soul.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alanna Smith

    I'm not sure what to think of this book. On the one hand, it tells an important story. Anyone who went to Auschwitz voluntarily so the Polish Underground could understand what was happening inside the Nazi's most notorious death camp deserves recognition and honor. But ohmygoodness, it was so depressing to read, and not just for the reasons you'd think because first, obviously, it's about Auschwitz and it's HORRIBLE, but also because this poor man is trying to get the word out and urging the All I'm not sure what to think of this book. On the one hand, it tells an important story. Anyone who went to Auschwitz voluntarily so the Polish Underground could understand what was happening inside the Nazi's most notorious death camp deserves recognition and honor. But ohmygoodness, it was so depressing to read, and not just for the reasons you'd think because first, obviously, it's about Auschwitz and it's HORRIBLE, but also because this poor man is trying to get the word out and urging the Allies to bomb the place because anything would have to be better than what's happening there and no one. ever. does. a. thing. It was frustrating beyond belief to read this happening over and over again. And then, Witold manages to escape (!!!) and tries to tell people himself what is going on there and STILL nothing comes of it! And then the war finally ends, the Soviets take over his part of Poland, and before you know it he's been thrown in a Soviet prison and executed as a traitor. All that for NOTHING??? It all just felt so depressing and pointless. Also, as much as I admire Witold's love of country and the way he sacrificed everything for it, it's hard to relate to that ideal now. I could kind of understand at the beginning, but as he continued to never see his wife and children (but did see his sister-in-law a fair bit and then had some secretary with the same name as his wife working for him (???)), it started to feel like less of a sacrifice and more like he maybe didn't care that much about them. I'm probably being unfair here, but if so, maybe Fairweather should have done a better job showing his readers the love that Witold had for his family. Also, while I'm picking on the author, it looks like Witold's own reports have been published, so I'm not entirely sure what Fairweather's role in writing this book was. I mean, clearly he did a lot of research and I'm glad he's bringing this story to light, but I'm not sure what one gains from reading this book as opposed to reading The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery which is written by Witold Pilecki himself? (And yes, I should go read that so I can tell you, but I need to read something lighter for a bit, first.) Anyway, knowing this other book is out there makes it hard for me to give too much credit to Fairweather, but maybe I'm just being a jerk here... It's still an important book to read, if you can handle how depressing it all is. We need to remember these things so we don't let them happen again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    The Volunteer: One Man’s Mission to Lead an Underground Army in Auschwitz and Expose the Greatest Nazi Crimes by Jack Fairweather This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. Witold Pilecki was a Polish cavalry officer, resistance leader and spy. He was the author of the Witold report a document that brought to light the atrocities that were happening within the German concentration camps. Witold was a Roman Catholic that volunteered to enter Aucshwitz and gather int The Volunteer: One Man’s Mission to Lead an Underground Army in Auschwitz and Expose the Greatest Nazi Crimes by Jack Fairweather This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. Witold Pilecki was a Polish cavalry officer, resistance leader and spy. He was the author of the Witold report a document that brought to light the atrocities that were happening within the German concentration camps. Witold was a Roman Catholic that volunteered to enter Aucshwitz and gather intelligence on what was really happening within the camp. He was one of only a handful of prisoners to successfully escape Auschwitz. This was such an inspiring read a out a truly exceptional man, 5 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul Stout

    Not just "based" on a true story (such as the Tatooist of Auschwitz), this IS a true story. Author Jack Fairweather has taken the actual writings of Witold Polecki, a Polish resistance fighter and added only true historical context to create this amazing book. I won't spoil the book, but his incredible experience in Auswitz, as if that's not enough, is not the complete story. Witold Polecki was a good man, surrounded by evil in a terrible experience. He volunteered to go into Auschwitz to help h Not just "based" on a true story (such as the Tatooist of Auschwitz), this IS a true story. Author Jack Fairweather has taken the actual writings of Witold Polecki, a Polish resistance fighter and added only true historical context to create this amazing book. I won't spoil the book, but his incredible experience in Auswitz, as if that's not enough, is not the complete story. Witold Polecki was a good man, surrounded by evil in a terrible experience. He volunteered to go into Auschwitz to help his Polish people destroy it and was then stuck there as a prisoner for years. He provided much of the key knowledge we have today on this terrible place. This book is much better than the Zookeepers Wife (another Polish WW2 book), and shouldn't just have 800+ ratings; it should have 800,000+

  14. 5 out of 5

    AnnMarie

    I visited Auscwitz in 2007 and while many of the images and stories have stayed with me, this book has reopened my eyes to the scale of the horrors carried out there. What bravery it took for this man to take on this challenge and the author has done a wonderful job in retelling it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Kiernan

    When I first heard about this book, I thought it had to be a novel. It would be impossible for an actual person to have volunteered to enter the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, as a spy, to enlighten the world to what was happening there. But it's true, and this compelling and impeccably researched story paints an even bleaker picture: The Allies, told repeatedly of the mass murders taking place at this camp, chose not to act to close it and save the people there. The political calculations are invers When I first heard about this book, I thought it had to be a novel. It would be impossible for an actual person to have volunteered to enter the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, as a spy, to enlighten the world to what was happening there. But it's true, and this compelling and impeccably researched story paints an even bleaker picture: The Allies, told repeatedly of the mass murders taking place at this camp, chose not to act to close it and save the people there. The political calculations are inverse to the degree of the inhumanity inside the camp. An amazing man and deeply partiotic Pole, Witold Pilecki volunteered to be held at Auschwitz. From there, he leaked revelatory documents, organized a resistance movement within the camp, and strove to create compassion and courage in a place bereft of both. Eventually he escaped, because he could do no more good. And after the war, when the Soviets overtook that area of Poland, he was repaid for his service with execution. This book is more than another devastating war tale. It is a story of courage in the bravery in the worst of circumstances, of determination and pride. And it reads like a spectacular novel.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    “Witold Pilecki volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz.” That’s the first sentence in the Introduction to this extraordinary true story of a Polish officer in the underground army who sets out to observe, expose and create a resistance movement during WWII. His story was buried by post-war Communist Poland (for reasons you’ll understand if you read the book) but it was after the discovery of Pilecki’s Memoirs in the 1990’s that the whole story has been pieced together and the author does a me “Witold Pilecki volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz.” That’s the first sentence in the Introduction to this extraordinary true story of a Polish officer in the underground army who sets out to observe, expose and create a resistance movement during WWII. His story was buried by post-war Communist Poland (for reasons you’ll understand if you read the book) but it was after the discovery of Pilecki’s Memoirs in the 1990’s that the whole story has been pieced together and the author does a meticulous job telling this tale of bravery and patriotism. While it is a tragic story in many ways (including the deaf ears in London and Washington who either refused to believe or chose to ignore the reports of the Holocaust) it is also very uplifting to read of the teamwork and camaraderie that helped these prisoners cope with unimaginable circumstances. You might find the Polish names a bit difficult to follow (not to mention try to pronounce) there is a list of characters at the end of the book that you may find helpful, but be warned, it does tell you what happened to each player so that may best be left for the end. It is a fascinating story and well worth reading.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kolumbina

    An essential reading for better understanding of WWII and what was really happening in Auschwitz and early years after. Excellent book, based on life and writings of a humanity hero, Witold Pilecki, who was also Polish undergound resistance operative, in the times of Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1946. What a shocking and disturbing story. One of the books that says many unsaid, necessary things about WWII, Communists, Stallin... Read a lot of books on WWII, still learnt a lot from "The Volunteer". An essential reading for better understanding of WWII and what was really happening in Auschwitz and early years after. Excellent book, based on life and writings of a humanity hero, Witold Pilecki, who was also Polish undergound resistance operative, in the times of Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1946. What a shocking and disturbing story. One of the books that says many unsaid, necessary things about WWII, Communists, Stallin... Read a lot of books on WWII, still learnt a lot from "The Volunteer". Interesting, well written, much deserved Costa Award. Wish I could give it 10*! Great! Great!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    “This is Auschwitz Concentration Camp, my dear sirs.” World War II is one of those immense subjects that you think you are aware of the major events and horrors and then you learn of yet another significant or profound part of the story. What I have discovered over the last few years is that as I find more and more accounts that have come from non-English speaking countries, particularly those of Eastern Europe there is a treasure trove of truly incredible stories out there. This is yet another o “This is Auschwitz Concentration Camp, my dear sirs.” World War II is one of those immense subjects that you think you are aware of the major events and horrors and then you learn of yet another significant or profound part of the story. What I have discovered over the last few years is that as I find more and more accounts that have come from non-English speaking countries, particularly those of Eastern Europe there is a treasure trove of truly incredible stories out there. This is yet another one of those. On page 60 of this book I stumbled upon one of the most unsettling photos I have ever set eyes on. The anchorage reads “SS guards in Auschwitz” and features three young Nazis smiling, hugging and mugging for the camera, as if they are enjoying a carefree gap year instead of playing their part in one of the most atrocious acts ever witnessed by humanity. “Then on Christmas Eve, the prisoners returned from work early to find a massive Christmas tree, installed beside the kitchen. The tree was easily as big as one of the guard towers, thick with needles and festooned in coloured lights that seemed to dance as the branches shifted in the wind. For a joke, the SS had stacked as presents under the tree the bodies of prisoners who had died that day in the penal colony, mostly Jews.” One kapo, (a prisoner functionary who supervised the other prisoners, usually through violent, cruel and fatal means), by the name of Ernst Krankemann is described as a “An obese former barber from Berlin, who had been committed to a mental asylum before the war and earmarked for the Nazi sterilization program only to wind up in Auschwitz.” One prisoner referred to him as “a repulsive horrible toad.” Krankemann would move down the row of inmates stabbing those at random who he believed were out of line. He also readily indulged in many other acts of torture and murder. The fact that the British and US governments refused repeated requests to take some action at Auschwitz is all the more damning and depressing when we realise that, “In the spring of 1943, two thirds of its eventual million victims were still alive.” This book is really well written and moves at a gripping pace. It’s filled with maps, plans, letters, photographs and some haunting hand drawn pictures by the likes of Jerzy Potrzebowski, Tadeusz Potrzebowski and Jan Komski who were all prisoners there, which really brings this incredible story alive. The insights into the underground network are fascinating the scale of planning, the creativity, resilience and boldness of the prisoners is exhilirating to read about. Millions as we know, were sent to the gas chambers, but hundreds of thousands also perished through phenol injections, being beaten to death, worked to death, getting shot, typhus and other diseases, starvation or being subjected to various human experiments. The numbers soon become abstract. This is an epic, depressing, compelling and fascinating story. Read it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary Vogelsong

    Review of The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather Witold Pilecki was a patriotic Polish farmer in 1939, and an officer in the cavalry reserves. Pilecki lost most of his men in their first battle. He and another Polish officer, Jan Wlodarkiewicz, decided to form an underground resistance cell. The underground mainly did “hit-and-run” warfare against Soviet troops. Pilecki and Wlodarkiewicz started out as good friends, but Pilecki started to distance himself when Wlodarkiewicz began incorporating anti-Sem Review of The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather Witold Pilecki was a patriotic Polish farmer in 1939, and an officer in the cavalry reserves. Pilecki lost most of his men in their first battle. He and another Polish officer, Jan Wlodarkiewicz, decided to form an underground resistance cell. The underground mainly did “hit-and-run” warfare against Soviet troops. Pilecki and Wlodarkiewicz started out as good friends, but Pilecki started to distance himself when Wlodarkiewicz began incorporating anti-Semitic sentiment into his leadership of the resistance cell. Eventually Wlodarkiewicz proposed that Pilecki allow himself to be captured and sent to Auschwitz to start an underground within the camp and to report on conditions within the camp. Pilecki accepted the dangerous assignment. If you have read horrific accounts of Auschwitz before, this is no different. Pilecki could have been killed at any time, just randomly. Upon arriving and disembarking from the train, soldiers were shoving the men with their gun butts, beating or shooting them if they didn’t move fast enough. One group of soldiers told a prisoner to run toward the fence. When he did, he was shot for trying to escape, while the soldiers laughed. Then there was the gas chamber, crematorium, lice, typhus, starvation, lethal injections in the camp hospital, and more random killing from the guards. Some days prisoners’ numbers were read out and they were marched to a wall where they were shot. I won’t say if Pilecki ever got out of Auschwitz alive, if he was able to send any messages to the underground outside the prison, or if he was able to establish a working underground resistance within the prison. The Volunteer is a well researched, riveting read. Because of the content it may not be an easy read for some. I have read a few books about Auschwitz this year and the cumulative effect is causing warning bells inside my head to go off. I need to give this graphic history a break. But if you haven’t reached your quota of explicit wartime violence, this is an important read to preserve history, and hopefully teach us which path of evil to avoid.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Litar

    Crushing and deeply shaking account of the genocide Germans committed in Auschwitz, as seen and reported firsthand by Witold Pilecki, a volunteer who infiltrated the death camp. It shows the successive stages of the camp’s transition from a harsh prison to a industrial-scale murdering machine. But this book is also an account of bravery, honour and commitment. It shows how in spite of unimaginable pressure, constant life-threatening danger and inhuman living conditions Pilecki and his resistance Crushing and deeply shaking account of the genocide Germans committed in Auschwitz, as seen and reported firsthand by Witold Pilecki, a volunteer who infiltrated the death camp. It shows the successive stages of the camp’s transition from a harsh prison to a industrial-scale murdering machine. But this book is also an account of bravery, honour and commitment. It shows how in spite of unimaginable pressure, constant life-threatening danger and inhuman living conditions Pilecki and his resistance group acted to collect the evidence and make the world aware of what was happening in Auschwitz. The story does not have a positive ending, neither for millions of people who died, nor for Pilecki who was murdered by communists after the war ended. Yet, as many people as possible should read it as it is not a cold compilation of statistics on how many people died in Auschwitz but a brutal, moving account of what was happening there. Reading and thus maintaining the living memory of this genocide is the very least we can do to protect humankind from repeating the same horrible act.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kasha

    This book is remarkable.As Polish I was never thought about Witold Pilecki as he was uncomfortable figure for polish goverment for long time.Author is giving voice back to Pilecki .At the same time there is no sugar coating ,all parties involved have some uncomfortable trues to deal with!In the current political climate this is eye opening read yet again one obvious true comes through- human race didn't learn a thing! This book is remarkable.As Polish I was never thought about Witold Pilecki as he was uncomfortable figure for polish goverment for long time.Author is giving voice back to Pilecki .At the same time there is no sugar coating ,all parties involved have some uncomfortable trues to deal with!In the current political climate this is eye opening read yet again one obvious true comes through- human race didn't learn a thing!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angelique Simonsen

    The best non fiction I have read so far this year! The author has a great way of communicating the horror without desensitizing the reader or making it overwhelmingly difficult to read. A very courageous man and one who laid the foundations for the British finally taking Auschwitz and what was going on there seriously.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jade Rebel

    Everyone should read this book!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    An incredibly readable account of what life was like inside Auschwitz, this book covers the period from the late 1930s through to the end of the Second World War through the eyes of Polish officer Witold Pilecki. Following the German invasion of Poland, he became involved in the resistance movement and volunteered to go to Auschwitz to report on what was happening there as well as to try and establish an underground network that could possibly break up the camp from the inside. As the Nazis bega An incredibly readable account of what life was like inside Auschwitz, this book covers the period from the late 1930s through to the end of the Second World War through the eyes of Polish officer Witold Pilecki. Following the German invasion of Poland, he became involved in the resistance movement and volunteered to go to Auschwitz to report on what was happening there as well as to try and establish an underground network that could possibly break up the camp from the inside. As the Nazis began experimenting medically on prisoners and killing thousands in the gas chambers, Witold became more desperate to let the Polish government in exile in London know what was going on. Thoroughly researched and well written with plenty of photos and maps, this is a horrifying but enlightening read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Goldenberg

    Yet another book that shows that there are still new or little known stories to be told about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. In this case, the story of a Polish resistance leader getting himself sent into Auschwitz to foment a revolt and mass breakout. And then, when he witnesses the growing horror of the mass exterminations, his frustrated attempts to get reports out to the western allies to persuade them to take action. The story comes alive in novelish detail thanks to Witold’s own written recor Yet another book that shows that there are still new or little known stories to be told about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. In this case, the story of a Polish resistance leader getting himself sent into Auschwitz to foment a revolt and mass breakout. And then, when he witnesses the growing horror of the mass exterminations, his frustrated attempts to get reports out to the western allies to persuade them to take action. The story comes alive in novelish detail thanks to Witold’s own written record made at the time and an extensive photo archive of all the people involved in the events both inside and outside the camp. Having read so many Holocaust related books recently, I feel I must now give them a rest for a while.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

    My wife brought this book home. I picked it up not knowing anything about Witold Pilecki or that anyone had led a resistance cell in Auschwitz. Pilecki volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz so that the Poles who had been imprisoned there could be organized and break out of the German hell-hole. When Pilecki volunteered, even he didn't know the extent of the camp. His papers, only recently available and translated, reveal his growing horror as the efficient, ruthless Germans converted a place My wife brought this book home. I picked it up not knowing anything about Witold Pilecki or that anyone had led a resistance cell in Auschwitz. Pilecki volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz so that the Poles who had been imprisoned there could be organized and break out of the German hell-hole. When Pilecki volunteered, even he didn't know the extent of the camp. His papers, only recently available and translated, reveal his growing horror as the efficient, ruthless Germans converted a place to hold various Polish and German troublemakers such as the officers and men of the Polish army who had resisted after the Blitzkrieg smashed Poland out of the war, into a last stop in the Final Solution. Witold's papers, which were smuggled out in spite of great danger, revealed the German's eradication of thousands of Russian POW's, killing them in "bathhouses" that purported to protect the victims from Typhus. The screams for these nondescript buildings could be heard several hundred yards away in the work camp's main yard. Pilecki unflinchingly describes the shift from the murder of Russian soldiers to Jews from all over Europe. Small children and frail women were sent to the bathhouses immediately, their clothes and suitcases carefully labelled and put to one side to be distributed back in Germany to the needy. The men at first were worked to death, but later, as Germany felt pressed, the men were also gassed immediately. Through his years at the camp, Pilecki heroically tries to organize resistance and is frustrated time and again. Only his faith and his patriotism kept him working against the Nazi killing machine. It seems that we need heroes nowadays. Witold Pilecki, whose commitment to Poland continued after the war and came up against an even more ruthless group of jailers from the Soviet Union, put his family and his life behind his commitment to country and the men and women who risked their lives for Polish freedom. The author is very able. I recommend this book to every person who has a heart and a moral compass. You will receive encouragement from this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    If the life of Witold Pilecki was a movie plot, one might have trouble in its believability. Volunteer to be captured and enter Auschwitz? Who in their right mind would do that? But, life being stranger than fiction, Witold Pilecki did just that. The Polish patriot left behind his family and intentionally let himself be captured by the Germans. Why? There's need for information regarding the camp. Also, he might be able to round up prisoners to form an underground resistance against the occupier If the life of Witold Pilecki was a movie plot, one might have trouble in its believability. Volunteer to be captured and enter Auschwitz? Who in their right mind would do that? But, life being stranger than fiction, Witold Pilecki did just that. The Polish patriot left behind his family and intentionally let himself be captured by the Germans. Why? There's need for information regarding the camp. Also, he might be able to round up prisoners to form an underground resistance against the occupiers. While imprisoned, he experienced all the hardships and privations Auschwitz was renowned for. He also witnessed the place transformed from labour camp housing political prisoners to becoming the extermination camp it's now known to be. His efforts to get the Allies to bomb the place was unsuccessful. He eventually managed to escape and continue to fight in the Polish Underground. Unfortunately, his memoirs and papers were not released until recently. So, it's only now that the world is getting to know about this brave patriotic man.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Odeta Razmaitė

    A detailed true story about Witold Pilecki who went to Auschwitz voluntarily to raise awareness on German crimes and raise a secret army.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gail Gibson-milliron

    Absolutely phenomenal true account of the bravery and insane heroic actions taken by the Polish Resistance officer. It is amazing what cruelty, murder, and butchery Witold witness helplessly actually avoiding death himself. His adverse experiences just continued through to his death. A must read! Great review by The Guardian: https://amp.theguardian.com/books/202... Absolutely phenomenal true account of the bravery and insane heroic actions taken by the Polish Resistance officer. It is amazing what cruelty, murder, and butchery Witold witness helplessly actually avoiding death himself. His adverse experiences just continued through to his death. A must read! Great review by The Guardian: https://amp.theguardian.com/books/202...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mary Cannon

    This is an astonishing story. I thought this was going to be a fictionalized account of this man and was surprised to discover I was in for 400 pages of history, instead! But from the beginning I was hooked and put other books aside to press on with this one. It expanded my understanding of Auschwitz and occupied Poland during WWII. The scope of this book is large and I allowed myself to just loosely keep track of people and organizations and geography, although there are lots of photos, maps, a This is an astonishing story. I thought this was going to be a fictionalized account of this man and was surprised to discover I was in for 400 pages of history, instead! But from the beginning I was hooked and put other books aside to press on with this one. It expanded my understanding of Auschwitz and occupied Poland during WWII. The scope of this book is large and I allowed myself to just loosely keep track of people and organizations and geography, although there are lots of photos, maps, and a helpful list of characters in the back that you can refer to if you get lost (and are a more dedicated reader than I). Witold himself and his experiences are what kept me reading on. His story is one of remarkable decisions made by an ordinary man, who just kept doing what he could for the cause he felt was right - regardless of the slim chance of success or the great cost to himself. It was inspiring and informative, a great read. I'm glad the author brought this story to light.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.