Obscure Historical Figure of the Day #4: Witold Pilecki


Witold Pilecki



Number four in our ongoing series celebrating historically important people you probably haven’t heard of is Witold Pilecki.

Pilecki was a remarkably brave and able man who served in the Polish military during WWII.  Unbelievably, he was part of a plan to smuggle an insider in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.  While imprisoned there, Pilecki survived abuse and disease and managed to organize an internal resistance force, sort of a like a real-like and much more serious Hogan’s Heroes.

Pilecki smuggled information about Auschwitz out to the Polish resistance, his reports eventually making it to London where they formed the core of all the Allies knew about the ongoing “final solution”.  His organizational efforts even included creating a collective of former military men who would prepared to assist if and when an invading force liberated the inmates, or even to take the camp themselves should the opportunity present itself.

When the war ended, Pilecki was an active figure resisting Soviet domination of Poland.  He was tortured bt refused to divulge the identities of his compatriots.  Eventually, he submitted to a farcical Soviet trial and was executed at the age of 47.

Really, someone needs to make a movie about this dude.


(Update (2020): A reader sent me this link about Pilecki.)