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The Volunteer: One Man’s Mission to Lead an Underground Army in Auschwitz and Expose the Greatest Nazi Crimes

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  28 reviews
How do you keep fighting in the face of unimaginable horror?

This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War.

In the Summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, an underground operative called Witold Pilecki accepted a mission to uncover the fate of thousands of people being interred at a new concentration camp on the border of the Reich.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 6th 2019 by WH Allen
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4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  152 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Steven Z.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 2003 my wife and I visited Krakow, Poland as part of a trip to locate where my father’s family lived before immigrating to the United States in the 1930s to escape the dark clouds that were descending upon Europe. During our visit I hired a driver and spent hours visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau the resting place for many relatives that I never was fortunate enough to meet. Seventy-five years after the conclusion of World War II, numerous questions abound concerning the then then “crown jewel” ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, war
The Volunteer: One Man’s Mission to Lead an Underground Army in Auschwitz and Expose the Greatest Nazi Crimes
by Jack Fairweather
This is untold story of one of the greatest heroes of the Second World War. Witold Pilecki was a Polish cavalry officer, resistance leader and spy. He was the author of the Witold report a document that brought to light the atrocities that were happening within the German concentration camps. Witold was a Roman Catholic that volunteered to enter Aucshwitz and gather int
Mary Vogelsong
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review of The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather

Witold Pilecki was a patriotic Polish farmer in 1939, and an officer in the cavalry reserves. Pilecki lost most of his men in their first battle. He and another Polish officer, Jan Wlodarkiewicz, decided to form an underground resistance cell. The underground mainly did “hit-and-run” warfare against Soviet troops.

Pilecki and Wlodarkiewicz started out as good friends, but Pilecki started to distance himself when Wlodarkiewicz began incorporating anti-Sem
Steve Masler
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The incredible and incredibly sad story of Witold Pilecki, a gentleman farmer who, when the Nazi's attacked Poland fought in the underground and eventually volunteered to be arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Fairweather's tome is heavily footnoted with a large, comprehensive bibliography, yet it reads like a heartbreaking work of fiction. Pilecki is an heroic lover of his homeland Poland. Auschwitz, at the time Pilecki was sent there,was a concentration camp to hold Polish prisinors of war, boys o ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book. I can honestly admit that I have read books on Auschwitz, but never knew about a Polish resistance fighter who intentionally got captured and sent there to gather information to the underground army to plan an attack on Auschwitz. The man's name was Witold Pilecki, and over the next two and a half years who formed an underground army to infiltrate Auschwitz and to assassinate key Nazi officers and sabotage their facilities.
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and signed a pact with Stalin that guaranteed the destruction of Poland, the Polish resistance sprang into action. Witold Pilecki, a second lieutenant in the Polish calvary reserves and a respected landowner of a manor near Lida, Poland, delivered his troops of 90 trained volunteers to defend Poland’s eastern border. As the panzers rolled over his company and other fighters, he knew Poland was gone. Yet the resistance prevailed. The leaders needed someone t ...more

Witold Pilecki was a respected landowner turned resistance leader in Poland with the Nazi invasion in 1939. Before the Warsaw uprising, before the world was willing to hear the story of the Holocaust, Witold Pilecki bore witness to the development of Auschwitz and its evolution into the epicenter of the Nazi’s genocidal program. He entered Auschwitz as a prisoner deliberately, seeking to lead an internal resistance movement. From his earliest reports to the outside world, sent with trusted priso
History buffs looking to learn more about Auschwitz and how it evolved from a brutal concentration camp for Polish prisoners to the efficient genocide machine that murdered millions of Jewish men, women, and children will find The Volunteer fascinating. Witold's widespread resistance network accomplished astonishing feats and suffered painful setbacks. It's a difficult book to read, both for the subject matter and the density (the confusing array of characters alone rates more than a dozen pages ...more
Anne Brown
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Witold Pilecki is nothing short of a hero. He unselfishly was intentionally arrested and taken to Auschwitz where he spent almost 3 years enduring every hardship imaginable while organizing an underground resistance group. He managed to send out several reports about the conditions and the horrors of the concentration camp but unfortunately, no one took him seriously. It was hard for those on the outside to grasp the extent of Hitler's fury.

Witold sacrificed his family and his freedom and even a
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The writing style and grammar were bad, in my opinion, and often times annoying. I got used to it after a while. I thought that the book started off really slow, and only picked up the pace about 150 pages is.

The story, however, is what kept me reading. It’s interesting, emotional and important. Most of the book is well-researched and thorough, although sometimes I found there were gaps or statements that weren’t explained.

I was surprised and disappointed at how little I knew of Polish WW2 his
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly powerful book that sheds light on the many atrocities of the holocaust from Poland’s perspective. The protagonist, MAJ Witold, Polish Army, is the shining example of a leader who sacrificed everything for the benefit of his country, his family, and his military.

The world will never truly understand the sacrifices made and the horrors confronted by the brave men and women of the underground resistance to Nazi fascism and Soviet Communism.
Louis Prontnicki
A gripping story of one man's sacrificial and tireless mission to bring justice and liberation, despite impossible odds. We need more people like Witold Pilecki today who will speak up against the evils of abortion and the persecution of believers.
Thank you, Jack Fairweather, for writing this moving book.
Different perspective than other books I have read about the Holocaust. It’s very well written. It leaves me feeling hopeful that there are good, courageous people out there, but also more than a little depressed that the evil mankind can inflict can’t be stopped by these good, courageous people. Worth reading.
Thomas Hanley
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This compelling book reads like an action adventure novel but horrifyingly true through the eyes of its hero, Witold. Journalist author Jack Fairweather’s painstaking historical research weaves Witold’s own writings and reports and historical documents to portray a first person account of the atrocities of Auschwitz from the man who volunteered to be imprisoned there.
David V.
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Received as an ARC via my employer Barnes & Noble. Started 5-21-19. Finished 5-26-19. The true story of a Polish man sneaking INTO Auschwitz to gather info about what the Nazis were doing there, form a resistance army, and then attempt to get out to report his findings. This information was heard by "deaf" ears in London and the United States, and nothing was done to prevent the deaths of millions of prisoners. This would make an amazing movie!!! Witold Pilecki's story was kept hidden by Sov ...more
Pete Meyers
Jul 26, 2019 marked it as to-read
Great review in The Economist

Witold Pilecki is an unsung hero of the second world war
from The Economist
Neil McGee
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Must read.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Harrowing. Important.
Robert Mund
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Frightening to the very end
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have no words.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely written slice of history.

this was a goodreads giveaway
Robert Mund
Frightening all the way to the end
John McPhee
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memorable and true

A well- told story of an extraordinary man whose courage is almost beyond imagination. Does a great job detailing his story
Jo Craig
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Compelling read.
Well written and highly detailed, this is an interesting account of this brave Polish national.
Lorraine Petkus
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the under told story of Poland's heroic, under appreciated, participation in World War II. I'm not one to judge, but it seems the Allies ignored Poland's plea for help. One of the best books I've read on Auschwitz. After reading this book, I think Churchill was a drunken loud mouth who betrayed Poland..
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This an astounding story of a Polish officer who sacrificed his freedom to serve as a spy within one of the worst concentration camps in WWII. An absolute page turner
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
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rated it really liked it
Aug 04, 2019
Cheryl Mitchener
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Jul 08, 2019
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Jack Fairweather has been a correspondent for the Washington Post and the Daily Telegraph, where he served as the Baghdad and Persian Gulf bureau chief. His reporting during the Iraq War earned him Britain’s top press award. The author of A War of Choice and The Good War, he lives in Charlotte, Vermont.