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Transcript of Kazimierz Piechowski
After the escape
While going to the car, they heard another car approaching outside, it was the Nazi's. After getting out of their car and looking around, the Nazi's left. There was also a Nazi watchtower 60m from the road where they would be driving. Eugeniusz took the driver seat while Piechowski was in the passenger seat and Stanislaw and Lempart took the back seats.
They then headed to the main gate of Auschwitz.
In case the Nazi's held their work groups and families responsible, Piechowski and Bendera formed a fake group of four, as they recruited another boy scout, Stanislaw Gustaw Jaster and a priest, Jozef Lempart for the escape.
At noon on the day of the escape, they all got ready to leave the camp with the squads, as per usual. After giving out soup they all met in an attic of an unfinished block. Eugeniusz briefed them all of the plan to escape. They left the attic and took a wagon full of potato peels and went to the gate. The guards on duty there had a list of all the work groups, the only problem was their group was fake. The guard just shouted "GO!" and he didn't even check the book. It was their first lucky thing of the day.
An escape story
Kazimierz Piechowski was born on the 3rd of October, 1919. He lived in the town of Tczew, Poland. His family of 5 were a middle class family and his father worked on the railways. When he was 10 years old, he decided to join the scouts who had a strong focus on patriotism, toughness and brotherhood as Poland was a new independent state after World War 1.
In 1939, nine years later, Germany declared war. The Nazis invaded the country and arrived in the town of Tczew 4 days after the war was declared. They started to shoot members of the scouts and some of his childhood friends. As he was 19 at the time, he decided to flee to the Hungarian border to join the Free Polish Army. Unfortunately, he was caught at the border.
The Polish Boy Scouts were labeled a criminal organisation in occupied Poland. After being in a work gang and sent to various prisons, on the 20th of June 1940, 313 Polish people including Piechowski were sent to Auschwitz. He was now known as a political prisoner and his inmate number was 918.
Auschwitz was the largest concentration/extermination camp during the Holocaust. Over 1.1 million people were killed there, mostly Jews.
When Piechowki arrived there, he was only the 2nd group of people who was in the camp. He had to help build the camp along wither other political prisoners, Jews and other criminals.
All Piechowski had left in the world was a number, a spoon and a bowl.
He explains "If you lost your bowl, that was it, you did not get any soup."
Piechowski explains if SS guards got bored, they would throw a prisoners hat and tell them to run and get it. The guard could then shoot them saying that they were trying to escape. The guard would then get 3 days leave .
In Auschwitz there was a death wall where prisoners would be lined up to get executed by the guards. At the end of all the executions, Piechowski had the job of carrying the corpses of men, women & children by their ankles onto carts to be transported to the crematorium.
After working outdoors for a number of months, he was then assigned to work indoors in a storehouse where the SS were supplied. While working indoors, he tried not to mess up as he had a better chance for survival.
While working, he became friends with Eugeniusz Bendera, a Ukrainian, who worked in a carworkshop and garage. One day Bendera told Piechowski that he was on the list to be gassed or shot. That's when the idea of escape came into his mind. Bendera said he could get a car but Piechowski explained how that was not enough. All of the fence around the camp was electrified so the only way out was through the 'Arbeit macht frei' gate.
One day, Piechowski was working on the first floor of the warehouse as he always did. The guard that was in control sent him to the second floor to get something. While there, he noticed a door saying "Bekleidungskammer" which meant clothing (SS uniforms). The idea then came to Piechowski that he could somehow get these uniforms and his friend, Bendera could get a car to escape.
On the Saturday morning of the 20th of June 1942, exactly 2 years after Piechowski had arrived at Auschwitz, the plan to escape had arrived.
While in the camp, the Nazi's told everyone that if they tried to escape, it would cost 10 lives. This made Piechowski start to think of the consequences if they did escape and the people who they would leave behind.
After going down the road towards the main camp, they turned onto a lane to the garage and used a fake key to open it. Eugeniusz showed them the escape car and left Stanislaw on watch out. The plan was to get in a hatch in the ground where the coal was kept. In the hatch there was a door to the boiler room which then led into the building where the uniforms were kept.
They quickly changed into SS uniforms and took helmets, guns and ammunition. They then went down to the car in full uniform.
On the way, they saw an SS guard with a bicycle and a cigarette in his hand and as soon as they approached, he dropped the cigarette and saluted "Heil Hitler". Further on they came across 2 other SS guards who were walking and also saluted "Heil Hitler". Of course they all thought it was funny! As they were 80m away from the gate, they realised it was closed.
As they approached the gate, they slowed down. The gate still didn't open and they were about 25m away. Panic began to show in their faces. Would the gate open and they would escape or would it stay closed and would they be caught?
As they thought it was over for them, Lempart hit Kazimierz and hissed "Why don't you do something!". Kazimierz regained control of himself and opened the car door. He then shouted at the SS guards,
"Are you asleep, fool? Open this gate or i'll wake you up good!"
The SS man jumped up and opened the gate straight away as he thought they were other SS guards. They drove out of the gate and at last
They had a successful escape from Auschwitz and were only 4 of 144 people who manged to escape. Only theirs was one of the most unique escapes as they escaped pretending to be SS guards.
After the war, he beagn to study in the University of Technology in Gdansk and became an engineer. Today, he is still alive and lives in Gdansk.
After the escape, Kazimierz Piechowski eventually ended up moving to Ukraine. He then got forged documents and changed his name and moved back to Tczew where he grew up.
His parents were arrested by Nazi's because of his escape and they died in Auschwitz.
The escape was one of the biggest escapes of all time. Recently, it has got a lot of recognition.
A singer called Katy Carr wrote a song called "Kommanders Car" which is about the escape.
There is also a documentary called
"Uciekinier" which means "Man on the run" which was released in 2006.
By Sarah Dooley