Sunday, January 27, 2013 - Washington, D.C. - In commemoration of the 2013 International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in cooperation with the Polish Embassy hosted an event about the incredible story of Witold Pilecki, whose report on Auschwitz has been published in English for the first time as The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery.
The event featured Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz, Director of Research at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (seated on the left below), and Dr. Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History, Yale University (on the right), in a discussion moderated by Dr. Edna Friedberg, Historian, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In response to questions from Dr. Friedberg, the speakers explored the historical context of Pilecki’s undercover mission at Auschwitz, the chronology of Pilecki’s life, and the importance of his Auschwitz report. Dr. Friedberg also read some excerpts from The Auschwitz Volunteer.
Advance reservations for the event, which was held in the 400-seat Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Theater at the USHMM, were sold out, with a waiting list. Following the hour-and-a-half program, the Polish Embassy hosted a VIP invitation-only reception at the Museum.
"It was of tremendous importance for us—Polish diplomats—to see Witold Pilecki being commemorated in such a highly symbolic place, both as an example of Polish patriotism and as a living witness for the ideals the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum stands for: confronting hatred, preventing genocide and promoting human dignity. Just as Ambassador Schnepf said during the event—Pilecki is one of the most brilliant diamonds we have ever had in our history," said Maciej Pisarski, Minister-Counselor, Deputy Head of Mission, Polish Embassy, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Pisarski continued, "We feel grateful to the Museum and to all the people who helped us to make the incredible story of Witold Pilecki better known to the general American public, including the Aquila Polonica Publishing team. We are especially pleased to learn that The Auschwitz Volunteer won the Association of American Publishers' prestigious 2012 PROSE Award for Biography & Autobiography."
Download the USHMM event flyer.
Watch a video of the entire program below (approx. 1 hour, 18 minutes) —
"Captain Witold Pilecki and the Resistance in Auschwitz," hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., January 27, 2013, Dr. Edna Friedberg, Dr. Timothy Snyder, Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz:
In concluding his remarks at this event, Yale University Professor Timothy Snyder summed up the three extraordinary things about Pilecki's report, excerpted from the video above.
[Photos thanks to: US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Polish Embassy, Tad Zachurski, Terry Tegnazian]