The volunteer by Jack Fairweather

The volunteer by Jack Fairweather – One man, an underground army, and the secret mission to destroy Auschwitz – is the story of Witold Pilecki. In the summer of 1940, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, Witold Pilecki volunteered to go undercover in what was then a new concentration camp. That place was Auschwitz. His mission was to report on Nazi crimes and to stage an uprising. With him being in the camp since it was made, he witnessed how its use changed over time.

The volunteer by Jack Fairweather

He managed to send some reports, escaped from Auschwitz, and went to Warsaw, where he was involved in the Warsaw uprising. He was in a show-trial by Polish communists, who were instated by force by the soviets. He was executed in 1948. His documents were classified. After the fall of the soviet union these papers were declassified and his story came to life. It is such an interesting story of an interesting man, and written beautifully. I highly recommend the book. There are lots of pictures included, mug shots of the people in Auschwitz, for example, inserted in the pages where they were mentioned, helping the reader to create a more accurate image in their mind. I liked that a lot. Also, depictions of the camps are included as well.

A few highlights from the book:

British MP Eleanor Rathbone wanted pressured applied on German satellites – Hungary and Romania – to release Jews, in August 1942. Romania joined Germany after France’s fall, seeing the west as weak and France was one of its two main guarantors of territorial integrity, alongside Britain. Nevertheless, RO wanted to release several thousands Jews that December but the British refused to accept them because they didn’t want to deal with so many migrants nor move them into the British controlled Palestine. (page 277)
– US and UK did not look good in this situation, as the Americans were doing the same, ignoring the situation not to appear as pro-Jews.

Despite what was happening in Auschwitz, the news were about Katyn. (page 330)
– Ironically, then it was all about Katyn when it was assumed the Nazis did it, now largely ignored, because the soviets killed those 22,000 Polish officers and they didn’t want to upset the soviets during the cold war.

“Hunger was widespread. soviet forces had requisitioned most of the harvest, and they impeded the work of an international relief agency as it distributed supplies.” (page 373)
– Good old famine made by the soviets, reminiscent of the Holodomor.

The volunteer by Jack Fairweather

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes!
Published by: WH Allen
Year it was published: 2019
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History – WWII
Pages: 528

About the author: Jack Fairweather has been a correspondent for the Washington Post and the Daily Telegraph, where he served as the Baghdad and Persian Gulf bureau chief. His reporting during the Iraq War earned him Britain’s top press award. The author of A War of Choice and The Good War, he lives in Charlotte, Vermont.
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2 thoughts on “The volunteer by Jack Fairweather”

    • I got it from the library, but here it’s quite cheap, even the paperback is under £8. The book is really good indeed, I was thinking of buying a copy, but I might just take pictures of the pages I find more relevant and buy it if I need it again in the future.

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