search

Kazimierz Piechowski, leader of daring Auschwitz escape, dies at 98

Non-Jewish political prisoner one of four to drive out of death camp using stolen SS uniforms, weapons and the truck of Hitler’s deputy

Kazimierz Piechowski, a non-Jewish political prisoner who led a daring escape from the Auschwitz death camp in 1942, died at the age of 98 on15, December 2017. (YouTube screenshot)
Kazimierz Piechowski, a non-Jewish political prisoner who led a daring escape from the Auschwitz death camp in 1942, died at the age of 98 on15, December 2017. (YouTube screenshot)

Kazimierz Piechowski, a non-Jewish political prisoner who led a daring escape from the Auschwitz death camp in 1942 using the truck of its commandant, has died at 98.

Piechowski died Saturday in Gdansk, Poland.

He was one of four men in the escape plan involving stolen SS uniforms and weapons, and the truck of Rudolf Hess. Piechowski denied rumors that the men later sent a postcard to Hess thanking him for the vehicle.

Driving toward the gate of the camp, Piechowski recalled to The Guardian in an interview several years ago that he yelled in German, “Wake up, you buggers. Open the gate or I’ll open you up.”

Piechowski, who was among Polish Boy Scouts sent to the camp as political prisoners in 1940, joined the partisan resistance following his escape.

One of the other escapees smuggled out of the camp what allegedly was the first detailed document about the crimes being carried out at Auschwitz, where 1.1 million people were killed, most of them Jews. It was given to the partisans.

According to a report in The Guardian, the policy of tattooing prisoners was introduced after the spectacular escape.

After the war, Piechowski was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Communist authorities, who did not trust members of the former Polish Home Army resistance. He reportedly served seven years.

The famous escape was documented in a 2007 film by Polish director Marek Pawlowski. Piechowski played a small supporting role as a narrator.

Piechowski later became an engineer and, when the Communist regime fell in 1989, he traveled the world with his wife. He wrote two books about his experiences.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed