Jul 14, 2004

Forgotten heroes

First, let me quote Dia-pozytyw article, beecouse they put it better then I ever could: For half a century, perhaps the greatest hero of the Second World War completely disappeared from books, newspapers and school curricula.

The greatest hero? At that level of achievements, comparisons becomes moot. One of the greatest, no doubt. Read on.

Imagine. A person who fought in Polish-Bolshevik War in 1920 in his teens. You know, the war in which just reborn Poland single-handedly stopped Soviets from conquering all of the weakened Europe just after Great War has ended. The war which is almost forgotten about today...just like the person I am writting about.

He took part in the September campaign of 1939 and faced both the German agression and the Soviet back stabbing attack months before any serious conflicts involving the Western Allies.

In November this year he was at work organising underground resistance and partisants.

In 1940 he - as the only person in the history - volunteered to become imprisoned in the Auschwitz. That name you must have surely heard off - the most infamous concentration camp in the history of mankind. He went there from his own free will, carrying out a mission he has planned himself: The setting up of a military organisation within the camp for the purposes of:

keeping up the morale among fellow inmates and supplying them with news from the outside
providing extra food and distributing clothing among organization members
preparing our own detachments to take over the camp in the eventuality of the dropping of arms or of a live force [i.e. paratroops]’

His reports (take a moment and look at them) have reached Western Allies as early as 1940. Of course they were disregarded at first. First mentions of them in US can be dated to 1944.

He suceeded in organising resistance, harassing gurads and facilitating escapes. He ecaped himself in 1943 after his cover was to thin to keep it up for much longer.

In 1944 he took part in the Warsaw Uprising. To quote from Dia again...During the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, Pilecki fought without even revealing his military rank at first-as a private first class, then as commander of the 2nd Company of the 1st Battalion of the Chrobry Group II that was active from Jerozolimskie Avenue to Zelazna Street. The fortification was one of the farthest ones to be held by the insurgents, which caused great difficulties for the German supply lines. The underground press called the region held by Pilecki the "Great Bastion of Warsaw". The bastion endured for two weeks, under fire on all sides from German tanks.

And then, to finish it - he was thrown into the prison for 3 years, and shot to death on after a fake trial.

I wonder what was he thinking on his last birthday. Less then two weeks before his death.

The book about his Auschwitz experience is entitled 'Escape from Hell'. Did he think that in the end, he didn't make it?

A moment of silence for the Witold Pilecki (Wiki entry online since last hour). If you feel like it. Think about him. I think it is important to remember such people.

You see, this is how totalitarian regimes treat their opponents. Opponents as in 'all people who can be dangerous to us'. After 1945, during the next decade, stalinist Soviet puppet state in Poland engaged in mass purges, killing dozens of thousands of people. People who dared advocate democracy. Soldiers who made a mistake of fighting on the side of Western Allies instead of Soviets and dared to return to their home country. Or, like Pilecki, who just didn't join the resistance sponsored by Soviets and advocating their cause.

Consider now two things, if you like. Two questions, perhaps. And tell me their answers.
Cause the only answers I can think of are not the ones I like. Perhaps you can tell me something else?

One. Poland contribution to the IIWW was extreme. Why then the Western Allies deemed Poland unworthy of rescuing from Soviets after 45'? Why men like Witold Pilecki had to die, three years after the war ended?

Two. Why do we allow other totalitarian regimes to reing free even in the XXI century, and when once every decade or two somebody dares to take actions against them - like in current toppling of Iraqi regime - so many people are opposed to it? I wonder if any of those 'pacifists' understands what it means to live in such a country. Btw, ever heard of a pacifist from such country?

Oh. A joke. I find it enlightning as an aid for the second question.

An American and Russian scientists met in the conference in late 70's. Amercian was teaching russian what 'freedom of expression' is.

He gave an example: 'you see, during the Vietnam war, I went to the mass protests outside White House to protest against US intervention in that war'.

Russian scientists nod. 'Yes, we have the exact same thing in Russia. You see, at that tiem I was in fron of Kreml as well, protesting against the US intervention in that war'.

Here's to all forgotten heroes, so their sacrifice is not in vain. And that one day, such jokes will be only that. Jokes. That one can laugh about...or better, not understand at all.

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