Witold Pilecki Honorary Citizen of Warsaw

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Captain (rotmistrz) Witold Pilecki, (born 13 May 1901, died 25 May 1948)
Honorary Citizen of Warsaw from May 2009

Born in Olonets, in the northern Russia, where the Pilecki family had been resettled by the Russian authorities in reprisal for the participation in the January Uprising.
His service for Poland began during the war with the Bolsheviks in 1920. As a cavalryman he took part in the defence of Grodno and the liberation of Vilnius. He was twice awarded the Cross of Valour. During World War II he fought in the September campaign 1939, and then in the structures of the Polish Underground State, including in a secret organisation called the Secret Polish Army under the command of Major Jan Włodarkiewicz.
In 1940, he voluntarily surrendered to the arrest and deportation to Auschwitz, to get information about the camp and organise a conspiracy there. As a prisoner, in November 1941, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General by General Stefan “Grot” Rowecki. As a result of a threat of uncovering a conspiracy, after two and a half years spent in the camp, he made a successful attempt to escape. In November 1943, he received the rank of captain.
In 1944, he fought in the Warsaw Uprising in the Grouping “Chrobry II”, creating the so-called Witold Redoubt (Reduta Witolda) in the area of the Postal Railway Station. After the capitulation of the Uprising he was in the German captivity at Stalag Lamsdorf, and then in a prisoner-of-war camp at Murnau. Since 1945, he joined the 2nd Polish Corps in Italy, from where by the decision of General Władysław Anders returned to communist Poland.
Despite the information about arrests, he refused to leave Poland. Eventually, he was captured in May 1947 and imprisoned in the Remand Centre on Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw. On 3 March 1948, the faked process of the so-called Witold group began. Despite cruel treatment in prison until the end he retained a heroic soldier's attitude. He remained faithful to the motto: God, Honor, Fatherland. On 15 May 1948, the communists sentenced him to death, and soon executed by a shot in the back of the head in prison at the Warsaw Mokotów Prison on Rakowiecka Street. Captain Pilecki’s burial place has never been found. The sentence was cancelled in 1990.
In 1995, Witold Pilecki was posthumously awarded the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and in July 2006 – the Order of the White Eagle.