Please Make This the Next Book You Read

The Auschwitz Volunteer by Witpold Pilecki.] It is a harrowing first person account of a member of the Polish underground who volunteered to be arrested and sent to Auschwitz in 1940 order to find out what was going on inside the camp and to try and organize those held prisoner into attacking the camp guards. I’ve read a number of accounts by people who’ve been in various prison camps and Pilecki’s by far the most harrowing of any of those that I’ve read.
One of them is his account of witnessing what happened when an execution went wrong. The executioner was a psychopath who enjoyed jabbing his victims in the heart with a needle full of poison. He messed up the dose on one victim who later got up, walked towards the executioner saying, “You didn’t give me enough. Let me have some more.” The executioner pistol whipped him to death. Another is when Pilecki watched one guard order girls to strip naked and run around him in a circle, while he picked them off, one by one, with his pistol.
This book is his preliminary report to the Polish government-in-exile that he wrote while living in Italy just after the close of the war. Shortly after he finished it, the government sent him into Poland to document the atrocities the Soviets were committing against the Polish people. The Soviets eventually caught him, put him on trial, and executed him.
How I wish that Pilecki had been able to write a full report on what he saw and did in Auschwitz. During his three years inside the camp, he managed to put together an organization large enough, and with enough access to weapons that, according to him, they could have taken the camp. They could have taken the camp. They didn’t because they were waiting word from London of help from the Allies. The Allies didn’t believe what was in the reports, so they wouldn’t agree to air drop weapons and supplies. Even without those supplies and weapons, they still could have taken control of the camp. The details of how and what he accomplished would be invaluable in helping others in similar situations.
And lest we become too prideful and pat ourselves on the back thinking, “We know better now, and wouldn’t let such things happen today if we heard about them.” I say that once you finish reading Pilecki’s book, you read some of the accounts coming out of the prison camps inside North Korea. The only difference is where and when its happening.
For me, the lesson from Pilecki’s book is that people in such situations shouldn’t expect help from the outside world, and should do everything they possibly can to overthrow their captors. They may die in the attempt, but they will likely die anyway, so they might as well go down fighting.