The Unsung Hero of Polish WWII Intelligence

On Wednesday, June 22, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation hosted an in-person event with Maria Juczewska, 2018-2019 VOC Research Fellow in Polish Studies, who will present on her monograph, Witold Pilecki – The Unsung Hero of Polish WWII Intelligence, which discusses the heroic life and achievements of the formidable Polish intelligence operator, Captain Witold Pilecki, and on her three accompanying educational components structured as lesson plans for middle and high school students.

Witold Pilecki was the man who volunteered for Auschwitz to gather intelligence about the camp when its horrendous nature was still shrouded in secrecy. He was the man who returned to Communist Poland after WWII to gather intelligence about it and perished on that mission, executed after a show trial by the Communists. Witold Pilecki was also an extraordinary individual – a loving husband, doting father, accomplished artist, successful farmer, community organizer, and a devout Christian as well as a soldier. The few English-language publications available about Witold Pilecki tend to focus on his heroic infiltration of the Auschwitz concentration camp and his activities there. Meanwhile, the last, brief, period of his life between his return to Poland and execution should be likewise seen as a continuity of his mission.

In her monograph, Maria endeavors to paint the full picture of Witold Pilecki’s life, presenting it in a wider geopolitical, historical, and philosophical context. In this way, it offers to the American audience a model allowing to understand how totalitarian regimes operate denigrating human dignity and individual opposition to evil. The monograph highlights as well the similarities between Nazism and Communism, which is an insightful point given that communist ideas, ideals, and social designs enjoy the support of a considerable percentage of young Americans today.

Witold’s Report from Auschwitz

Witold’s Report from Auschwitz is the most exhaustive version of the intelligence report from the German Extermination Camp Auschwitz authored by Cavalry captain Witold Pilecki. It is a source material to be used together with the VOC Pilecki Project lesson plans and monograph.

About the Speaker

Maria Juczewska was the 2018-2019 VOC Research Fellow in Polish Studies and a graduate in Statecraft and International Affairs at The Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. She researched and wrote a report entitled “Witold Pilecki: The Unsung Hero of Polish WWII Intelligence,” and subsequently adapted it into three curricular units with primary resource activities for the middle school and high school students.

Event Recording