Costa Award nominee details life of Secret Polish Army founder

A book about a Polish intelligence agent who led a resistance against the Nazis in WWII is nominated for the 2019 Costa Book Awards.

Welsh author of The Volunteer, Jack Fairweather, is among 20 authors nominated for the prize.

The novel tells the true story of Polish resistance leader Witold Pilecki who infiltrated the Nazi death camp Auschwitz to sneak out information.

“I stumbled across this historical figure and wanted to know more,” said former Telegraph war reporter Jack Fairweather, “When he arrived at the camp in 1940, it was a brutal place for political prisoners and he witnessed the steps of the Nazis arriving at the final solution.

“He smuggled messages out to London, and this book covers why we did nothing.”

Fairweather’s previous books include A War of Choice detailing the Iraq conflict, and The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan.

Witold Pilecki was politically opposed to Poland’s right-wing nationalists. He served as a cavalry captain with the Polish Army during World War II and co-founded the Secret Polish Army, a resistance group in German-occupied Poland.

He was the author of Witold’s Report, the first comprehensive Allied intelligence report on the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Holocaust- obtaining information by infiltrating the camp and then later escaping.

Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich wrote of Pilecki:

“When God created the human being, God had in mind that we should all be like Captain Witold Pilecki, of blessed memory.”

He was also described by Polish ambassador to the USA, Ryszard Schnepf as a “diamond among Poland’s heroes” and “the highest example of Polish patriotism” at the commemoration event of International Holocaust Remembrance Day held in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013.

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