The Reports of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Several testimonies remain after the tragic events in Auschwitz. Books based a bit on facts,
a bit on fiction of authors, who are often only the grandsons of the survivors, are gaining in

However, one testimony of the camp life was written right after leaving, or rather after
escaping from KL Auschwitz. The author of this certificate was rotmistrz Witold Pilecki, who
spent over three years in a concentration camp. It is one of the most tragic and, at the same
time, most valuable memories from the camp because the author had participated and
observed all the events he described in his memoirs.

Who was Rotmistrz Pilecki?

Witold Pilecki was born on May 13th, 1901, in Olonec, in the autonomous republic of Karelia
in Russia, in a family of noble origin. After the outbreak of World War I, his family was forced
to move to Belarus. Pilecki then joined the scouting movement, which operated in the
underground. After the tsarist regime in Russia was overthrown in 1917, the Polish scouting
movement of which he was a member appeared. Pilecki took part in the actions of „Self-
Defense” in Vilnius, which led to displacement of the German troops from the city.
World War II came soon after. Pilecki fought as a platoon commander in the division cavalry
squadron of the 19th Infantry Division of the „Prussia” Army, and then in the 41st Infantry
Division in the Romania bridgehead. After disarming his team, he was active in guerrilla
warfare, and then he co-founded the Secret Army of Polish (TAP). The army decided to
investigate what was happening in the areas of concentration camps massively built by the
Germans. Unfortunately, the sources are divergent, and it is not known whether Pilecki
himself volunteered for this mission, or was appointed to it.

In the camp

Witold Pilecki voluntarily allowed himself to be caught during the round-up on September
19th, 1940, as Tomasz Serafiński. He was convinced that he was going to work in Germany.
He was sent to the KL Auschwitz concentration camp as political prisoner number 4859,
which, as he admitted, suited him best of all categories of prisoners. From the very first
moment, he was hit by the tragic fate of the prisoners. One of the NSDAP members greeted
them with the words that the food rations are calculated for them to survive six weeks. If they
survive longer, it meant they stole food so they will die anyway.

Pilecki watched people suffer from diseases unknown to him. How they are abased,
humiliated, beaten, and even killed for offenses that the SS forced them to commit. He
watched the work beyond strength, famine, the deals in Auschwitz, and how people
disappeared into the gas chambers, afterward they were burned in the crematoria, and
momentarily their block would be filled again with new prisoners.

Pilecki spent 947 days in the camp. Together with two other prisoners, he managed to
escape from Auschwitz. During his stay in the camp, documents were created describing the
hell of KL Auschwitz Birkenau known as „Witold’s Report” – „Report W” created during his
stay in the camp, „Teren S” as an integral part of the „Report W” and „Report 1945” drawn
up after he escaped from Auschwitz.

Witold Pilecki was sentenced to death by the communist government. The sentence was
carried out on May 25th, 1948, in Warsaw. The burial place of Pilecki has not been found

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