Witold Pilecki: Auschwitz's Voluntary Inmate with Dr. Finn Ballard

Witold Pilecki: Auschwitz's Voluntary Inmate with Dr. Finn Ballard


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In September 1939, the surprise declaration of war by Germany upon its neighbor saw Poland immediately overwhelmed and compelled to surrender. Nevertheless, the Polish resistance quickly became a formidable thorn in the Germans' eastern flank. Cavalry officer Witold Pilecki soon emerged as a formidable leader, and became a co-founder of the movement known as the 'Secret Polish Army.'

A year later, Pilecki volunteered for a mortally dangerous mission: to allow himself to be captured by the Nazis, in order to infiltrate the new Auschwitz concentration camp about which dreadful rumors were spreading. The level of barbarity he witnessed there surpassed even the darkest ruminations of a man accustomed to war. Pilecki immediately set about organizing a resistance network within the camp and producing reports which were smuggled from Auschwitz all the way to London. However, the international aid he was awaiting never transpired, and Pilecki eventually escaped from Auschwitz to join the Warsaw Uprising – only to fall victim to the post-war police state established in Poland by those who had ostensibly fought the Nazis.

Led by an expert on Third Reich history, Dr. Finn Ballard, this Conversation will illuminate the tale of a lesser-known Resistance hero. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the history of Auschwitz, of Poland's resistance movement, and of the paranoia of its post-war Communist regime.

While not required, we do recommend reading The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz, by Jack Fairweather at your convenience.

Finn grew up in Northern Ireland before moving to England to study and later teach in the department of Film and Literature at the University of Warwick. He completed his doctoral study on German folklore and popular cinema in 2012, and has published extensively in the fields of Film Studies and Gender Studies. Since 2008, he has been living and guiding in Berlin. He now works as a historical advisor for television and film productions set in Berlin, particularly during the Weimar era or Third Reich. He is a journalist for the 'Siegessauele', Europe's foremost Queer magazine, and organises events at Berlin's English-language bookstore 'Another Country'.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
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Anonymous (Orinda, US)

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Nancy (Winter Park, US)
Fascinating and stimulating

This is an interesting subject involving Poland and its resistance movement. Finn presents dense and complicated material so well and I admire his expertise as a communicator and historian. I especially appreciate Finn allowing us to ask questions as he goes along as that informs his lecture and allows for the questions to be asked front of mind. It is very helpful!

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
100%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
Anonymous (Orinda, US)

Guest did not leave comment

N
Nancy (Winter Park, US)
Fascinating and stimulating

This is an interesting subject involving Poland and its resistance movement. Finn presents dense and complicated material so well and I admire his expertise as a communicator and historian. I especially appreciate Finn allowing us to ask questions as he goes along as that informs his lecture and allows for the questions to be asked front of mind. It is very helpful!