The volunteer one man, an underground army, and the secret mission to destroy Auschwitz

by Fairweather, Jack,

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"Superbly written and breathtakingly researched, The Volunteer smuggles us into Auschwitz and shows us--as if watching a movie--the story of a Polish agent who infiltrated the infamous camp, organized a rebellion, and then snuck back out. We are squarely confronted with the other human truth: ordinary people will happily risk their lives to help others. Fairweather has dug up a story of incalculable value and delivered it to us in the most compelling prose I have read in a long time." --Sebastian Junger, bestselling author of The Perfect Storm and Tribe

The incredible true story of a Polish resistance fighter's infiltration of Auschwitz to sabotage the camp from within, and his death-defying attempt to warn the Allies about the Nazis' plans for a "Final Solution" before it was too late.

To uncover the fate of the thousands being interred at a mysterious Nazi camp on the border of the Reich, a thirty-nine-year-old Polish resistance fighter named Witold Pilecki volunteered for an audacious mission: assume a fake identity, intentionally get captured and sent to the new camp, and then report back to the underground on what had happened to his compatriots there. But gathering information was not his only task: he was to execute an attack from inside--where the Germans would least expect it.

The name of the camp was Auschwitz.

Over the next two and half years, Pilecki forged an underground army within Auschwitz that sabotaged facilities, assassinated Nazi informants and officers, and gathered evidence of terrifying abuse and mass murder. But as he pieced together the horrifying truth that the camp was to become the epicenter of Nazi plans to exterminate Europe's Jews, Pilecki realized he would have to risk his men, his life, and his family to warn the West before all was lost. To do so, meant attempting the impossible--an escape from Auschwitz itself.

Completely erased from the historical record by Poland's post-war Communist government, Pilecki remains almost unknown to the world. Now, with exclusive access to previously hidden diaries, family and camp survivor accounts, and recently declassified files, Jack Fairweather offers an unflinching portrayal of survival, revenge and betrayal in mankind's darkest hour. And in uncovering the tragic outcome of Pilecki's mission, he reveals that its ultimate defeat originated not in Auschwitz or Berlin, but in London and Washington.

Bomber command

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Following the German conquest of Poland in 1939, officers of the defeated country's army coalesced into an underground resistance organization. When they learned of a mysterious camp in which the Nazis imprisoned their compatriots, they decided to collect intelligence by infiltrating the place with an operative. Witold Pilecki volunteered and contrived to be arrested and sent to Auschwitz. When he arrived in late 1940, it was not yet a murder factory, though its expansion into such a hideous facility is hinted at in various reports that Pilecki smuggled out to the Polish underground. Of more immediate importance to Pilecki was preparing his fellow Poles for a breakout and documenting Nazi atrocities inside the camp. Only a few Poles escaped, including Pilecki, and they then fought in the tragic Warsaw uprising of 1944. Pilecki survived, continued an underground life of resistance in postwar Poland, wrote a memoir about his experiences in Auschwitz, and was arrested by the communist regime, which put him to death in 1948. Drawing Pilecki's witnessing of appalling crimes into a forceful narrative with unstoppable reading momentum, Fairweather has created an insightful biography of a covert war hero and an extraordinary contribution to the history of the Holocaust.--Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: ""Witold Pilecki volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz," writes former war correspondent Fairweather in this immaculately detailed history, and rather than being heralded as a hero, he was tried, executed, and "effectively deleted from history" by his country. Fairweather mines letters, coded diaries, and personal interviews to tell the story of how Pilecki, a gentleman farmer and Polish cavalry officer, left his family, assumed a false identity, and handed himself over to the Gestapo for imprisonment at Auschwitz along with all the other military-age men in Warsaw. For two and a half years, he endured torture, starvation, and disease, witnessing Jewish families being led to the gas chambers and choking on the fumes from burning bodies, all the while risking his life to collect information on death tolls and building plans for death chambers and crematoriums that would be smuggled out by released upper-class prisoners. Pilecki was devastated when the Polish resistance and the Allies refused to believe that Auschwitz had become the center of the "final solution." After escaping on his own, Pilecki returned to a Poland decimated by the fleeing Germans and seized by the encroaching Communist forces, which labeled him a traitor for opposing them and executed him. Fairweather tells this tragic tale in gripping fashion, bringing a new angle to the literature of the Holocaust. Illus. Agent: Larry Weissman, Larry Weissman Literary. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."

Additional Information
Subjects Pilecki, Witold, -- 1901-1948.
Auschwitz (Concentration camp)
World War, 1939-1945 -- Underground movements -- Poland.
Poland -- Armed Forces -- Officers -- Biography.
Electronic books.
Publisher [Place of publication not identified] :HarperCollins2019.
Edition First edition.
Other Titles One man, an underground army, and the secret mission to destroy Auschwitz
Contributors OverDrive, Inc.
Language English
System Details Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Format: Adobe EPUB eBook
Format: Kindle Book
Format: OverDrive Read
Requires Adobe Digital Editions or Amazon Kindle
Description 1 online resource
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [461]-486) and index.
ISBN 9780062561428
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