Article: The Man Who Volunteered for Auschwitz

“The Polish resistance had been hearing horrific first- or second-hand accounts about the conditions inside Auschwitz. These early accounts came primarily from released prisoners, but also from casual observers like railway employees and residents of the nearby village of Oswiecim. The resistance decided they needed someone on the inside.

It is into this environment that Witold Pilecki, a 39-year old veteran of the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921 who fought against the initial Nazi invasion and a member of the Polish resistance, volunteered himself in 1940. Pilecki’s mission was to allow himself to be arrested and, once inside Auschwitz, to collect intelligence for the Polish resistance in the country and the government-in-exile in London, and to organize a resistance from inside the camp.”

The “process” of gathering information in the RLE seemed almost impossible: getting in to Auschwitz, staying alive long enough to collect information, and escaping.

The “end result” – gathering enough information on Auschwitz to take action – was obviously so important to justify almost anything.