Poles celebrate 117th birthday of hero Witold Pilecki

Witold Pilecki. Photo: ipn.gov.pl

Celebrations on the occasion of 117th birthday of Witold Pilecki, a cavalry captain who penned a report on the atrocities that took place in Auschwitz, are underway in Warsaw.

The celebrations began with a mass at St. John's Archcathedral in Warsaw. After the mass the participants marched through the streets of the city to reach the monument of Witold Pilecki, situated in Żoliborz, the north-west district of Warsaw.

The event was organized under the honorary patronage of the Minister of Culture and Heritage, Piotr Gliński who laid flowers under the plaque commemorating Witold Pilecki and addressed the participants gathered for the occasion.

Witold Pilecki was born in 1901 and served as cavalry captain during the Polish-Soviet War and WWII. Pilecki was also a co-founder of the Secret Polish Army, a resistance group in German-occupied Poland. In 1940, he volunteered to be arrested by Germans and deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in order to organize a resistance movement there and to prepare a report on the situation in the camp. The report was presented to the Western Allies as early as 1941.

After WWII, Witold Pilecki was arrested, accused of anti-state activities in a show trial, and executed in secret by the Communist authorities in 1948. Despite concerted efforts by the Institute of National Remembrance, his body has not been found so far.