MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Reports by Auschwitz escapees

Reports written by Polish escapees after they were on the outside, sent to the underground leadership, were another source of information on Auschwitz. In April 1942, Stefan Bielecki sent AK headquarters a report written by camp resistance leader Witold Pilecki. A month later, escapee Gustaw Jaster brought out another report. Kazimierz Hałoń, who escaped on November 2, 1942, reported on Auschwitz to the Cracow PPS leadership. Later, the socialist Liberty ran 6 articles probably based on his information.

In April 1943, Witold Pilecki, Jan Redzej, and Edward Ciesielski escaped. Each of them compiled a report independently, and these were sent to AK headquarters. Stanisław Chybiński, who escaped a month later, wrote a report titled “Snapshots from Auschwitz” for AK headquarters.

In mid-1944 escapees Konstanty Jagiełło and Tomasz Sobański sent the Cracow PPS organization secret messages, and maps of the camps and SS deployments. None of these escapees’ reports, with a few exceptions, was published during the war.

Reports by other escapees were published and had an impact, however. The Pole Jerzy Tabeau escaped in November 1943. In a report to the leadership of the Polish underground, he discussed the events of the last year and a half. His report was smuggled out of Poland. In Switzerland, it came to the attention of several diplomats and representatives of the World Congress of Jews. As the “Report by a Polish Major,” it reached the UK and the USA.

Two Jews from Slovakia, Rudolf Vrba (Walter Rosenberg in Auschwitz) and Alfred Wetzler, escaped in April 1944. In Zylina, they met secretly with officials from the Slovakia Jewish Council and gave them a secret report on Auschwitz. An in-depth report was drawn up in Slovak and German. It recapitulated events in the camp from April 1942 to April 1944, and also discussed earlier events. It was sent through various channels to Allied governments, the World Congress of Jews, the International Red Cross, and the Vatican. The media carried the story in the Allied countries and Switzerland, while respecting the anonymity of the authors.

Two Jews, Czesław Mordowicz from Poland and Arnošt Rosin from Slovakia, escaped from Auschwitz in May 1944. After reaching Slovakia, they reported secretly to officials from the Slovakia Jewish Council on the Auschwitz events of April-May 1944, especially in regard to the Jews from Hungary. This report was also sent to the West.

These reports were published in whole or in part in Switzerland and the Allied countries. For instance, the Vrba-Wetzler and Tabeau reports were published together in Switzerland as Les camps d’extermination. The Czech government in exile used the same sources to prepare Report on condition in the concentration camps of Oswieczim and Birkenau. A two part brochure was published in Washington in November 1944 as German Extermination Camps – Auschwitz and Birkenau. The first part contained the Vrba-Wetzler, Mordowicz, and Rosin reports, while the second part featured Tabeau’s “Report by a Polish Major.”

Furthermore, information from these reports appeared in the British, American, and Swiss press.