Heroes of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

When we think about the Auschwitz concentration camp, most of our attention goes towards the crimes committed there. Thoughts we have mentioning Auschwitz are those about torture, executions, gas chambers, crematories, number of lives lost there. Therefore, we would like to talk about the heroes who risked their lives fighting for those lives, bringing us knowledge of the atrocities happening behind closely guarded walls of Auschwitz.

The beginning of Auschwitz-Birkenau resistance

Soon after the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany, the Auschwitz concentration camp was opened in 1940 for political and war prisoners. Auschwitz earned its deadly reputation attracting the attention of the Polish anti-German underground and newly established Secret Polish Army under the command of Major Jan Włodarkiewicz and Second Lieutenant Witold Pilecki. Starting the intelligence network tasked with observing transport routes and gathering information of German military and repressive actions including the crimes committed at Auschwitz concentration camp.

Witold Pilecki

With the first news of mass deaths of Auschwitz prisoners in 1940, Secret Polish Army developed a plan to infiltrate and set up a resistance network in this already notorious prison camp. Second Lieutenant Witold Pilecki agreed with the plan and volunteered to be caught and taken to Auschwitz. His mission aimed to organize the resistance cells to provide liaison between the prisoners and the resistance, smuggling the information of crimes committed in Auschwitz and preparing the camp for the fight if circumstances allowed. In between 1940 and 1942, three more organized resistance networks created Union for Armed Struggle, Aleksander and Karol Kumuniecki’s group, and Wlodzimierz Kolinski’s group in Auschwitz. All resistance networks created in Auschwitz joined under the Union of Military Organization set up by Witold to serve as help for the prisoners boosting their spirit, providing food, clothing, medicine, and organized escapes.

Auschwitz-Birkenau – uprising that never happened

Due to the inhumane treatment and extreme mortality of the Jewish population, no organized resistance or groups were able to form until 1943. At first, only a few started to develop by those deported from ghettos and those with similar political views of which most active was the Ciechanow group of Polish Jews. With the number of Jewish populations on the rise, more groups were being formed in different subcamps of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Groups were mostly operating to help the other inmates get in touch with the outside, spreading the information of crimes committed in Auschwitz to the world with the hope of armed uprising. The uprising never happened due to large deportation from the camp in 1944 and executions.

When we think of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and all atrocities and crimes committed there, we may think of the worst humanity is capable of. At the same time, we should also think about all the heroes who sacrificed themselves in order to do their utmost in the worst possible conditions. They aimed to bring the truth to the world and light into the lives of many who needed hope and comfort the most, showing us the best of what we are capable of.

Our trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau

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