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The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army,…
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The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to… (original: 2019; edição: 2019)

de Jack Fairweather (Autor)

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2282491,106 (4)11
"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." -- inside front jacket flap."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 amassed evidence of shocking 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 postwar 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."--Dust jacket.… (mais)
Membro:GrahamMc
Título:The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz
Autores:Jack Fairweather (Autor)
Informação:Custom House (2019), Edition: 1st, 528 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:****
Etiquetas:read:2020

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The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz de Jack Fairweather (2019)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 24 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Settembre 1940. Dal momento in cui si hanno notizie dell'inizio dell'attività nel campo di prigionia nazista di Auschwitz, ben poco filtra su quello che succede davvero oltre il filo spinato. Witold Pilecki, membro della resistenza polacca, si offre volontario per una missione ad altissimo rischio: farsi catturare dalle SS, entrare nel Lager e raccogliere quante più informazioni su ciò che avviene li dentro. Se possibile, dovrà anche sabotare le attività che vi si svolgono. Ma una volta all'interno di Auschwitz, Pilecki capisce che quello non è un normale campo di prigionia. L'orrore della Soluzione Finale nazista lo spinge allora a tentare il tutto per tutto: evadere, raggiungere l'Europa dell'ovest e infirmare gli Alleati delle mostruosità che avvengono in quel posto. Una missione che sembra un vero e proprio suicidio. Censurata dal governo comunista polacco nel dopoguerra, la storia di Pilecki viene riportata alla luce in questo libro. Attraverso diari, testimonianze e documenti a lungo secretati, Jack Fairweather ricostruisce una delle vicende più scioccanti della seconda guerra mondiale. La tragica fine della missione di Pilecki, infatti, non fu decisa ad Auschwitz, ma nelle stanze segrete di Londra e Washington... (fonte: Ibs)
  MemorialeSardoShoah | Nov 8, 2020 |
Look, this is really well written and fascinating. It's also, like most accounts touching on the Holocaust, horrifying. The audiobook has a great reader, but also this book will leave you both inspired and disgusted by people, so maybe know that going in. ( )
  bookbrig | Aug 5, 2020 |
Well written, well-illustrated story of Witold Pilecki, a Polish gentleman farmer and army officer, who almost in spite of his convictions took up a courageous struggle against the unfolding holocaust in Auschwitz. And yes, you may try to read that sentence again. Pilecki is one of those paradoxical, contradictory persons (like most of us I guess) who has been the object of glorification in this belated testimony of his courageous acts. He probably ended up at the wrong side of history for a long time, because his acts of resistance did not stop after the conclusion of world war 2. He was by then completely estranged (alienated?) from his family and took issue with the next repressive regime (communist take-over under Stalin). One wonders what would have happened if Churchill had had his way and a democratic Poland would have emerged from the war – somehow I think Pilecki would still have derailed – after what he had gone through, it would have been difficult to flip back into any form of ordered society. Would Pilecki have made it into the Yad Vashem hall of fame? Just like Oscar Schindler on the other side of the fence, he has quite something going against him, some stinging edges that diffuse his aura as meddling hero.

So what makes him interesting as a (compromised) resistance hero? Well, he is one of those ruling class heroes. Not the intellectual under-dog from a marginalised group who takes up arms with the ‘powers that be’. He rides to war as a cavalry officer of the Polish army charged with a clear sense of duty and patriotic fervour. His previous war with the Whites against Russia’s Reds gave Poland her right to be born again, and now this birth right needs to be protected. Again. He shares many of the convictions of the Polish elite – patriotic, anti-Bolshevik, anti-Semite, pro law and order. And a family man. But after a Blitzkrieg style defeat, Pilecki dives under the radar, cutting off his family life (though he stays with his sister-in-law in Warsaw) and enjoying life in the shades of a resistance movement. This is where already any writer about Pilecki becomes compromised or mired in contradictions – family man – no family man; uniting force for the politically and racially fractured landscape of resistance movements or splitter who remains true to his anti-Bolshevik and anti-Semite convictions? Fairweather opts for the former. Twice. His projected reader needs a steady, politically correct hero. And I know it is soo difficult to write about a morally oscillating, conflicted hero, when the readership wants a simple black and white, good guy-bad guy story. So Fairweather tries his level best, letting some doubts shine through. But he also decides to nurture his hero, the way his readership wants, which in the end sort of backfires – after the worst is over, Pilecki engages with another love in his life, does not re-unite with his family, hardly sees his kids, opts for the shades, does not link up with Jews, gets trapped by Soviet informers, convicted to death and not pardoned despite all kinds of calls to do so to former Auschwitz inmates like the Polish PM. Why? If he was such a good family man, if he was such a fighter against the holocaust? These all represent fascinating ingredients for a compromised hero story, and yet Fairweather only partially succeeds in doing that (my moral compass is partly informed by the use of ‘true story’ in the blurb – this is what publishers want, because they think it sells; my response is – ahh, probably a story with flat characters – not interesting. Fairweather let the publishers have their way completely by inserting true story in the title!).

And yet, the book is well written and provided with ample photographs of its protagonists and key places featuring in the narrative allowing the reader to identify with the characters as if being there, real life. Also plenty of maps are provided. Truly laudable gestures, which spice up the story.

Picking up the narrative – what Pilecki does after the Nazis and Soviets have invaded Poland, is to go under, working for a resistance organisation – going underground. There are so many of these resistance groups that it is hard to believe the Gestapo and NKVD were doing their jobs during the first year of occupation. At some stage Pilecki gets assigned to infiltrate a new concentration camp being established near Oswieçim, ostensibly to organise the resistance inside this camp (and to link up with two military hands of the underground that got picked up before). During one of the many razzias of Warsaw, he willingly gets arrested. This is when his ordeal starts. The writer, through the manuscripts of Pilecki plus own archival research entailing a wealth of testimonies and records from the camp’s administration, describes life and its horrors in the camp. This part compares well with other testimonies. It also bears out that despite the harsh behaviour of kapos and SS guards, the original camp regime was relatively mild compared to the part of the camp that was reserved for Soviet POWs and Jews (and certainly compared with the neighbouring Birkenau camp, construction of which only started by the end of 1941). Auschwitz proper is characterised by stone buildings of multiple floors (in contrast to the wooden barracked Birkenau), and surprisingly many inmates manage to escape or get released (!). Soon Pilecki has a widely spread network of inmates (and German kapos) working for the resistance, countering the natural inclination of inmates to snitch and pry on others as a survival strategy, with the principle of solidarity and taking care of each other. The latter of course is laudable though incredibly hard to achieve. Saving a crust of bread out of one’s mouth and sharing that with someone who has turned Muselmann (the extremely hungry, who rock back and forth as if in prayer – hence Muselmann) takes quite some strength. However, the network thus built is widespread, with members in all parts of the camp (hospital, kitchen, administration, out-going work parties).

Initially its aim is two-fold: (1) record what happens in the camp and get that information to the outside world in order to elicit a response from the Allies against Nazi atrocities; (2) prepare for an armed rising and break-out, destroying the camp facilities. Both aims give purpose to life and gain in urgency over time, as the atrocities turn increasingly horrific. Pilecki barely survives two serious bouts of illness. After each illness, he is shifted to a work detail that allows recuperation (either outside the camp; or in the kitchen; and ultimately in the carpentry workshop which operates under a pretty benevolent and lenient regime). The resistance movement is successful in getting messages out to either Warsaw or all the way to the Polish government in exile in London. And thus it is able to report on increasing numbers of deaths, changes in killing methods (the first group that gets gassed using Zyklon B concerns Soviet POWs), and the change in real purpose of the camp (from work camp for Polish inhabitants and, later, Soviet POWs, to extermination camp for Jews). The Allies response to these messages is invariably the same – they do not consider bombing the camp a priority in their war effort, discredit the figures on number of people killed and methods of killing, and are lukewarm towards providing the Jews of Poland, or anywhere else, with an exit by allowing more refugees in their home countries. On the second count of their objectives, an armed rising, the camp underground is unsuccessful. This is the cause of much frustration on Pilecki’s part.

As the camp’s regime tightens (more SS staff, stricter punishment of deviant behaviour) the chances for a successful revolt diminish. Pilecki knows their only chance lies in a combined rising with support from the underground outside the camp. The latter he will not get (possibly because Poles do not rise for Jews?). So by April 1943, Pilecki decides to escape and lobby for outside help himself. Together with two other inmates, Pilecki makes his way out, starts pleading with the Warsaw underground and fails to garner support for a rising. Meanwhile the camp underground withers away. Pilecki resigns himself to writing more reports. And in 1944 he gets involved in the Warsaw rising fighting in vain, escaping to Italy, returning to Soviet ruled Poland, occasionally meeting his wife (and kids), continuing his work for the underground. And then he gets caught in 1947, convicted for being a traitor in a show trial, after being subjected to lengthy torture compared to which Auschwitz was a kindergarten (his own words). He is convicted to death and executed with a neck shot. End of story. Oblivion. Pilecki’s story is partly revealed in 1975 in a book called ‘Fighting Auschwitz’, but the real story is only reconstructed after the 1989 opening of state archives in Warsaw. A first biography is published in 2000. But since it is all in Polish, it takes time to trickle-down to the rest of the world. ( )
  alexbolding | Jul 17, 2020 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
Very well written account of a man who purposely put himself into Auschwitz to send out information on the plight of the prisoners that the Nazis put into the concentration camps. It didn’t matter to him the nationality of the people in the camp, he was trying to get first the British then all of the allies to help free them and all of the people in all of the camps. The work ends with his life after Russia took over parts of Poland after WWII. ( )
  Kaysee | Jun 19, 2020 |
Jack Fairweather has done a great service by thoroughly documenting the story of Witold Pilecki, so that this brave, patriotic man will not be forgotten. Witold Pilecki is a well-known Polish hero to Poles - but not widely known in other WWII studies or circles. I give the book five stars because it is thoroughly researched and documented and the importance of the subject matter. It did not read like a novel to me, nor did I feel any emotional connection to the story. There was simply too much information, too many people and characters to keep up with. But, if the reader has an interest in WWII, Polish history, or Auschwitz, this book may be for you. It definitely stands at the top of books written about Pilecki. Men like Witold Pilecki deserve to be remembered and serve as role models for each of us.
  KatrinaShawver | Jun 12, 2020 |
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"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." -- inside front jacket flap."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 amassed evidence of shocking 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 postwar 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."--Dust jacket.

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