15 July 2020, Wednesday, 14:04
Sim Sim, Charter 97!
Categories

Lithuanian Historian: Hero Witold Pilecki Unites Lithuania, Belarus, Poland

5
Lithuanian Historian: Hero Witold Pilecki Unites Lithuania, Belarus, Poland
WITOLD PILECKI IN COURT, 1947
PHOTO: INSTITUTE OF NATIONAL MEMORY / www.pilecki.ipn.gov.pl

What is the captain famous with?

Lithuanian and Polish politicians in Vilnius paid tribute to captain Witold Pilecki, who was executed by communists on May 25, 1948. Pilecki went down in history by the fact that in 1940 he voluntarily went to the Nazi death camp - Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he organized the underground movement, was the first to report on the horrors that were happening there, and from where he made a daring escape in 1943. What role did Lithuania and Belarus play in his fate? Lithuanian historian Simonas Jazavita has told about this to Charter97.org.

- Witold Pilecki is an absolutely incredible person, who until recently was rather little-known in Lithuania. Although it is with Lithuania and Belarus that he has special ties. Since 1910, his parents lived in Vilnius, here he studied at a trade school, in 1915 he and his parents fled from the advancing troops of the German army to their relatives in Vitsebsk. During the Soviet-Polish war, Pilecki took part in the defense of Hrodna from the advancing troops of the Bolsheviks, then in the Battle of Warsaw.

His most incredible deeds can be attributed to the fact that he voluntarily went to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, in which, as we know, the Nazis destroyed tens of thousands of people using the most terrible methods. Pilecki managed not only to get to the death camp and survive there, but also passed on to the Polish underground, and then to the Polish government in exile in London the information about what was really happening in the camp. The truth, about which Pilecki spoke in his report, was so shocking and terrible that many refused to believe in it.

In 1943, Pilecki organized a daring escape from the camp, in 1944 he took an active part in the Warsaw Uprising, in the end he was again captured by the Nazis, held in a camp for Polish officers in Bavaria. From captivity he was freed by the allied forces. He returned to Poland, which was liberated by Soviet troops and actually turned into a protectorate of the USSR in 1945, in order to collect intelligence information about the activities of the Communists and their repressions against former soldiers of the Home Army and the country's population.

- However, he was arrested ...

- In the dungeons of the communist prison Pilecki was brutally tortured. The fact is that Witold Pilecki believed and fought for a free Poland. The personality of the captain showed his contemporaries - it is not necessary to obey Stalin as a communist in order to fight the fascists. As far as I know, many former prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau signed a petition in defense of Pilecki, they applied for the amnesty of the captain to the then head of Poland - Bierut. However, Pilecki was executed. It seems to me that Moscow played a major role in this.

- How does modern Russian historiography perceive Witold Pilecki?

- The family of Pilecki’s grandfather lived in the territories that now belong to Belarus - between Lida and Hrodna. Due to the participation in the uprising against the king, they were taken into exile in the territory of Karelia. It was in Karelia, in the town of Olonets, Pilecki was born. What we see in modern Russian historiography is the Kremlin’s attempts to rewrite history and present the USSR “as Europe’s only savior from the Nazis.” Although it was Pilecki who could become a figure uniting and reconciling all the peoples of our region.