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The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery

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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  126 ratings  ·  36 reviews
In 1940, the Polish Underground wanted to know what was happening inside the recently opened Auschwitz concentration camp. Polish army officer Witold Pilecki volunteered to be arrested by the Germans and reported from inside the camp. His intelligence reports, smuggled out in 1941, were among the first eyewitness accounts of Auschwitz atrocities: The extermination of Sovie...more
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published April 30th 2012 by Aquila Polonica (first published April 1st 2012)
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Terri Lynn
This book is very easy to read because the writer Witold Pilecki used such clear writing since he was not writing a book but instead was writing a series of reports which have been gathered into this book . It is also one of the hardest books too read that I have ever picked up because he was writing so clearly about the day to day realities of Auschwitz, a place run by subhuman monsters with no code of ethics and no respect for other people.

This is a unique piece of history from the 20th centu...more
Uwe Hook
"When God created the human being, God had in mind that we all should be like Captain Witold Pilecki.

"The Auschwitz Volunteer" is the single most extraordinary tale of heroism you will ever read.

To say that Witold Pilecki was a "man's man" is to understate the case considerably. We don't have words to adequately convey the kind of heroism Pilecki displayed. Language is a common possession and Pilecki was entirely uncommon. Witold Pilecki is one of the greatest heroes our species has produced. Y...more
Orion
The Auschwitz Volunteer is a newly available English translation of a report written by Witold Pilecki, a Polish military officer, in the late summer of 1945 about the 3 years he spent inside the Auschwitz concentration camp from 1940-1943. Auschwitz was young then: Pilecki was on the second transport of prisoners to what had been a Polish cavalry base converted by the Germans into a camp for Polish prisoners. When the first transport was sent, Pilecki volunteered to infiltrate the prison, organ...more
Eva Leger
Definitely worth reading. I borrowed this from the library and was horrified to find halfway through the book that someone had torn out a page. It was a page with a full page photograph, that much I could tell, and it's more of that someone would actually do that to a book - any book - than anything I "missed".
Regardless, the photos are amazing, as with any book of this nature. I just stare at the faces and try to imagine what they could have been thinking at that exact moment.
Pilecki's writing...more
Eleanor
Dec 13, 2012 Eleanor is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
All the movies I've seen about the horrors of the German concentration camps did not prepare me for Pilecki's accounts of the brutality that occurred. One example: burying inmates headfirst in gravel pits and placing bets on how long their legs would continue waving in the air. This book is not for the squeamish. And that brings me to one of Pilecki's major observations about survival.
"The bitter truth," he writes, is that intellectuals have few survival skills. Many lacked the willpower to eat...more
April
I listened to the audiobook of The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery by Witold Pilecki because essentially it was assigned for something kind of secret that I am taking part in. I can’t really tell you guys until it is over. Anyways, of the books I was assigned I decided to listen to this book first because I find the Holocaust horrifying and I have always been interested in why and how humans could be so terrible and carry out such awful deeds. So, I listened to The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyon...more
Michael
Witold Pilecki, married middle age father, volunteers to get himself arrested and sent to Auschwitz (September 1940) to be able to gather information for the Polish Underground & help organize the resistance within the camp.

This book is the English translation of his 1945 written report to the Polish High Command. Murdered by Russian Communists in 1948 his name was effectively purged from Polish history until after the fall of the Soviet Union.

This relatively unknown (in English at least)...more
Barbaraleah
This is perhaps, the most amazing book I have read on the Holocaust. Captain Witold Pilecki VOLUNTEERED to go to Auschwitz to organize rebellion and to ensure the world knew what atrocities were being perpetrated. Captain Pilecki is the definition of a hero.
A must read!
Garryvivianne
Story of Witold Pilecki who deliberately walked into a German round up of Polish Jews so he could relate back to everybody the atrocities & what was happening in the camps. Amazing that he survived & was able to get papers & notes smuggled out. He relates how you had to try to remain strong in order to work to survive in the camps. When your health gave out, the Germans had no use for you. He was able to get together a number of groups of his underground operation that were able to h...more
Linda
This book stands alone among the many accounts I've read of life and death in Auschwitz. Captain Pilecki did not intend it as a book, but as a military, intelligence report to the Polish Underground. It is a factual recounting of his life, observations, and work in Auschwitz in its earlier years. He tried not to editorialize, but as he stated, "We were not made out of...stone, though it sometimes seemed as if even a stone would have broken out in a sweat." Sometime his horror and his commentary...more
Chris Wolak
The Auschwitz Volunteer is the best book I read in 2012.

If you're a reader of history, WWII, Poland, the Holocaust, or spy novels go & buy this book or buy it for someone you know who is into these subjects. You won't regret it.

Pilecki's story is astonishing. He was a military man and member of the Polish resistance who volunteered to be taken in a round-up to the new Nazi concentration camp: Auschwitz. The camp was established in May 1940. On the 19th of September 1940 at 6 am, Pilecki ste...more
Sharky
Este livro/relatório não é para pessoas sensíveis, é esplícito contendo várias descrições de como morrer num campo de...extermínio. Mas não se resume só a isso, temos também artimanhas de como se sobreviveu naquele campo e na pele do sr. "Capitão Witold Pilecki," um verdadeiro herói que se infiltrou no campo para mostrar ao mundo exterior do horror e do macabro, do companheirismo e das dificuldades, da sobrevivência de alguns e morte de muitos.

Brutal e altamente recomendável, já saiu a tradução...more
Laurel
I have read many histories of WWII death camps, written by Jewish authors, either as memoirs or from a historical perspective. This is the first memoir I have read by a man that was not Jewish, rather identified as a polish man jailed for political crimes (?). He was a member of the underground resistance that chose to be imprisoned in Auschwitz. His perspective on the atrocities he witnessed was very different from my prior readings that focused primarily on the Jewish plight. While he did incl...more
Stephanie Chu
This book totally haunted me. The sadistic way the inmates were being treated in the camps completely scare me. Plenty of inmates die from starvation,exhaustion from extreme hard labor and diseases. :( I am so glad that i wasn't born during that time. :( RIP to all the poor soul that die in the camps. :(
Holly
I am surprised that this is not more popular. This chronicle of Auschwitz from 1940-1943 is very interesting. It starts out when the camp was still in its early stages without gas chambers, crematoria, and very many Jews. This story is from a Polish political prisoner's side of things, which hasn't been a very loud voice compared to the Jewish perspective. Beyond Bravery is a fitting title, how many people would volunteer to be a prisoner in Auschwitz for 2 years and 7 months (AND THEN successfu...more
Kandice Newren
This was a book that was recommended by one of the book blogs I follow. It was interesting to see how Auschwitz was started and how it transformed over about three years. It was heartbreaking to realize all that was happening in that camp and the cruelty of others. It makes me want to learn more about the Polish resistance during the war, so maybe that's where I'll go next. The writing, although written some time after escaping the camp, tells the story well. There isn't a lot of flowery writing...more
Janet
This book reads--and in fact probably is--much closer to a military dispatch (or debriefing if you will) than a cohesive narrative. It's a cut and dried "I recruited X,Y,Z and we infiltratated 1,2 and 3 then I recruited A, B, and C and they infiltrated 4, 5, and 6...". Which makes sense, when you realize this is a copy of the report Pilecki wrote his superiors after his escape. He wasn't trying to make the story pretty, he was trying to include as many details as possible. The terms glossaries i...more
Natalie
Love it when the "little" man/woman, stands up and actually does what his conscience yells at him to do. One one side you have the Nazis who did exactly that and then You have the people described here. Its a heart wrenching book. And it took me a while to stop crying every time I thought about it and tryed to review it.

One of my heroes Michele Colucci alias Coluche once said: Bravery consists not in saying what you think, but in doing what you say. This is what the "few" did. Read it for yours...more
Tomi
Excellent book. This is actually a report that Pilecki sent to his superiors after he had been in Auschwitz - having managed to get himself arrested and taken there voluntarily to report on the conditions. He was one of the early inmates. This is written in a matter-of-fact style which makes it even more heartrending. I can't understand how people can be so evil...
It was impossible to put this book down once I had started it. It shows the horror of Auschwitz from the very beginning. I can't unde...more
Laura Kuhn
The text provides a view of Auschwitz that is rarely seen. Mr. Pilecki was in the camp early in its inception and he was there as a Pole and Catholic. As a member of the Polish army (and subsequent underground), he allowed himself to be arrested in order to build cells in the camp. This book is the third report her wrote detailing his experiences, and he was executed by Soviets before he had a chance to revise it in anyway. The style is raw and in diary form. Great supplemental material in intro...more
Mark Dodson
My son and I visited the Holocaust Museum in DC last summer, and I wanted to do some more reading about it. I found this one just looking through the shelves in our public library, and glad that I did. Without mentioning any spoilers, it’s a survivor’s story of 32-months in Auschwitz from 1940 to 1943 and how he was able to survive. Keep in mind that the conditions there were very difficult and it contains very graphic accounts of cruel torture and killing. It is quite a read and will leave you...more
Ashley
When you think of a hero you should think of Witold Pilecki. This is his account of life in Auschwitz. Pilecki volunteered to become a prisoner so he could gain intelligence for the Polish Underground Operation. This is an excellent read and I think anyone who loves history should read his account of life in Auschwitz.
Mara
Anyone interested in WWII should read this book. If James Bond went to Auschwitz his name would be Witold Pilecki. This book was a first hand report written by Pilecki to his superiors and was never intended to be a book. It reads like it is- a hurriedly written bare (for the most part) facts account of a man who volunteered to go to Auschwitz. And was willingly there for 3 years. This book should be more well known than it is.
Larry Maitland
An amazing perspective from a brave Polish man who volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz, thwarted death on many occasions, delayed escape to organize resistance forces in the camp, and successfully escaped. Some of the accounts of how these people were treated and killed by the Nazis (above and beyond what is commonly know) is stunning... It's a story of the best of man...and the worst.
Kayne
This man's journals of his time in Auschwitz. He was VERY lucky that he wasn't Jewish. He was certainly treated brutally, but he stayed alive 3 years in the camp. He wouldn't have made it out of the train yard had he been Jewish. Brutally frank, this book objectively reports the atrocities that he witnessed and endured.
Sara Klawikowski
A very interesting perspective; and "insider's view" into one of the most horrific places in human history. With my last name and BK's heritage, I also found the Polish "pride" quite fascinating ( and incidentally, also provided me a great glimpse into how solidarity may have taken hold). I highly recommend it.
Jason Walker
I don't think there is another story like this in any other war or prisoner condition that I have ever read about. No one volunteers, escapes, volunteers to go back and so on. It reminds me that courage is the first virtue. Without courage, as Maya Angelou stated, we cannot practice any other virtue.
Bob Buhr
Everyone should read this book to reaffirm that we can never forget the absolute horror and in many cases death that took place in this and so many other camps during the war. You clearly needed special skills and a strong will to survive, and many of those with the skills did not make it out alive.
Anne-Marie Whisnant
I am so moved by Pilecki's account. There is no truer heroism than enduring death around you on a daily basis and narrowly escaping it yourself. An absolute must-read. Inspiring, gripping, horrific at turns but also heartwarming. The title says it all - he was 'beyond' brave.
Michael
I was humbled while reading this book. It was moving to read of this man's thoughts and actions while living in hell - he called it hell and I believe him.

To think that the old USSR and so many other dictatorial regimes still do this today is scary.
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During World War I, in 1918, Pilecki joined a ZHP Scout section of the Polish self-defense units under General Władysław Wejtko in the Wilno area. When his sector of the front was overrun by the Bolsheviks, his unit for a time conducted partisan warfare behind enemy lines. Pilecki then joined the regular Polish Army and took part in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919–1920, serving under Major Jerzy Dąb...more
More about Witold Pilecki...
Freiwillig nach Auschwitz: Die geheimen Aufzeichnungen des Häftlings Witold Pilecki (German Edition) Le Rapport Pilecki O Voluntário de Auschwitz

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