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The Volunteer – Jack Fairweather introduces his book20. October 2021 | 19.00 pm

City Library Bochum, Gustav-Heinemann-Platz 2-6, 44787 Bochum, Clubroom


The Volunteer


“One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz”


Lecture by the author with German translation and picture presentation
Followed by discussion with the audience

An event as part of the double exhibition “Lemkin” and “Fritz Bauer Library”


Occupied Poland, September 1940: 39 year-old Polish underground operative Witold Pilecki volunteers for a secret mission to infiltrate Auschwitz and uncover the fate of thousands of his compatriots interned in the camp.

His orders: report back to Warsaw on conditions, and, if possible, stage an attack against the Germans from inside the camp – where they would least expect it.

Over the next two and half years, Pilecki forged an underground army within Auschwitz that sabotaged facilities, assassinated Nazi informants and officers, and gathered evidence of terrifying abuse and mass murder. But as he pieced together the horrifying truth that the camp was to become the epicenter of Nazi plans to exterminate Europe’s Jews, Pilecki realized he would have to risk his men, his life, and his family to warn the West before all was lost. To do so, meant attempting the impossible—an escape from Auschwitz itself…

Completely erased from the historical record by Poland’s Communist government, Pilecki remains almost unknown to the world. Now, with exclusive access to previously hidden diaries, family and camp survivor accounts and recently declassified files, Jack Fairweather reveals Witold’s exploits with vivid, cinematic bravura. He also uncovers the tragic outcome of Pilecki’s mission, in which the ultimate betrayal came not on the Continent, but England.

The Author

Jack Fairweather is the bestselling author of “The Volunteer”, the Costa Prize winning account of a Polish underground officer who volunteered to report on Nazi crimes in Auschwitz. The book has been translated into 25 languages and forms the basis of a major exhibition in Berlin. He has served as the Daily Telegraph’s Baghdad bureau chief, and as a video journalist for the Washington Post in Afghanistan. His war coverage has won a British Press Award and an Overseas Press Club award citation. He divides his time between the UK and Vermont.


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