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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

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  • PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

  • 10 January 2013

    The Polish Cultural Institute in New York recently co-organized a debate devoted to the report by Captain Witold Pilecki published in English as part of the book “The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery”. Prof. Timothy Snyder and Terry Tegnazian, representing the Aquila Polonica publishing house from Los Angeles, took part in a heavily attended panel discussion held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York on 9 January 2013.

    The conversation was moderated by Museum Director David G. Marwell.

    The discussion included many key facts about the fate of Poles and the unique role played by Poland during World War II. Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University and the author of numerous publications on the history of Central and Eastern Europe, spoke of the policies which accompanied the Nazi and Soviet occupation, as well as of the initial goals of establishing concentration camps in occupied Polish territories, which were at first aimed at suppressing the Polish resistance movement. He also mentioned the executions of Polish officers and intelligentsia members.

    Much attention was also paid to Witold Pilecki himself, who volunteered to spend three years in Auschwitz in order to gather information on the situation inside the camp and to set up an internal resistance movement. After escaping from Auschwitz, Pilecki continued to participate in armed struggle, taking part in the Warsaw Uprising. He was captured by the Germans in the final days of the rising. In 1945 he was freed from a POW camp and made his way to Italy. Upon his return to Poland, he was captured by the Communist authorities and executed on the grounds of spying for the Polish government-in-exile. Rehabilitated after the fall of communism, Pilecki was posthumously awarded the Order of the White Eagle.

    The book debate was not the only occasion commemorating Witold Pilecki in the US. Captain Pilecki and the newly published book will also be featured at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in the first half of 2013 – an event co-organized by the Polish Embassy to the United States.

    Articles devoted to the book have been published in the New York Times, The New Republic, The Jewish Week and The Jewish Journal.

    Cover of the book "The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery"
    Cover of the book "The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery"

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