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He evaded death so many times it seemed it would never take him. The only man in history to go to Auschwitz as a volunteer, to form a resistance movement and document German atrocities. One of the few who succeeded in escaping. He sent drawings from there to his children and wrote letters to his wife, delivering them via the underground conspiracy along with reports. The British historian Michael Foot included him among the six most courageous people of the Second World War. After the war ended, he was treated like a criminal in his homeland now enslaved by the Soviets. He could have saved himself and left the country, but he said, “Not everyone can leave, someone has to stay.” He died at the hands of his Stalinist torturers, shot in the back of the head. At his last meeting with his wife, when he was barely alive, he declared that Auschwitz was nothing compared to the torture in the Stalinist prison, and that he no longer had the strength to live. For a long time his children could not admit to being Pileckis, for fear of punishment, but the communists’ curse haunted them throughout their lives. They only found out where their father was buried 64 years later, when they themselves were approaching the end of their lives.

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