„Ta zdumiewająca opowieść o Witoldzie Pileckim, członku ruchu oporu w Warszawie, który próbował wzniecić bunt w obozach, zdobyła nagrodę Costa Book Award w kategorii biografia” – pisze „The Guardian”.
6 stycznia książka „The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz” otrzymała nagrodę Costa Book Award w kategorii Biografia, co oznacza, że wciąż ma szansę na zdobycie głównej nagrody – tytułu Costa Book of the Year 2019, czyli wygrania jednego z najbardziej prestiżowych konkursów literackich w Wielkiej Brytanii.
„Just after Witold Pilecki’s arrival at Auschwitz concentration camp in September 1940, Deputy Commandant SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch addressed the 5,000 prisoners: “Your Poland is dead forever and now you are going to pay for your crimes through work,” he declared. “Look there, at the chimney. Look!” he shouted. “This is the crematory. Three thousand degrees of heat. The chimney is your only way to freedom.” In case anyone had not got the message, guards then beat a man senseless with clubs in front of them all.
A former cavalry officer in the Polish army, Pilecki was a member of the resistance in Warsaw. When news reached them in July 1940 that a concentration camp had been opened in a former Polish army barracks near the town of Oświęcim, Pilecki volunteered to be captured and taken to the camp – which the Germans called Auschwitz – in order to gain intelligence about what was happening there and to organise a break out. Few men had returned alive from Auschwitz and it was an incredibly brave decision. When a prisoner learned that Pilecki had volunteered to be there he was astonished: “If what you say is true you’re either the greatest hero or the biggest fool.”