A special viewing of a documentary on the heroic life of Witold Pilecki, an Auschwitz volunteer, will be brought to the Texas A&M University campus “to continue educating our youth about history.”
Jim Mazurkiewicz, Ph.D., director of the Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership, TALL, program with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, traces his Polish heritage to the early 1800s of the Republic of Texas.
Through the years, he’s facilitated several academic exchange activities among TALL program students, Texas and Poland business groups with interests in both agricultural and energy sectors. His efforts culminated in September when he received an honorary doctorate degree from Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Warsaw.
Now, he’s wanting the Brazos Valley, Bryan-College Station community and Texas A&M University and Blinn College students to learn more about Poland and the heroic efforts of Pilecki. The “Death of Captain Pilecki” depicts the actions of a Polish cavalry officer and intelligence agent, who in 1940 was captured by Germans and held in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The documentary will air at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Texas A&M University Bush School of Government and Public Service Conference Center in Frymire Auditorium. The event is free.
Remembering, learning from history
“It’s important to show this film, to understand our past and to know what could happen in the future,” Mazurkiewicz said. “We need to continue educating our youth about history.”
The documentary features actor Marek Probosz, who as Pilecki, chronicles his escape from Auschwitz only to be captured twice.
“Captain Witold Pilecki volunteered to be captured and imprisoned in Auschwitz to bring the story of the Nazi death camp to the world. Ironically, he survived the ordeal and survived World War II only to be executed as a traitor by his own countrymen for colluding with Western ‘imperialists,’” according to a blog by Leonard Kniffel, past editor-in-chief of American Libraries.
“He deliberately was caught twice, ultimately giving his life in an attempt to get word to the allies and trying to save the lives of both Jews and Christians,” Mazurkiewicz said. “Hitler’s Nazi racial ideology was to cleanse Europe of Jews, Slavs, Blacks, Roma (gypsies) and those with physical and mental disabilities.”
In addition to showing the film, Mazurkiewicz will moderate a panel featuring Probosz, who will attend in person, and Jim Olson, Bush Library professor of practice who served more than 30 years with the CIA.
“The viewing is being held on Nov. 11 in observance of The Republic of Poland’s Independence Day and U.S. Veterans Day,” Mazurkiewicz said. “We want everyone in the local community as well students to come learn about these important historical events.”
The documentary will be aired in Polish/German language with English subtitles, and the event is sponsored by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Houston.
Hosts for the event include Texas A&M University, the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications, Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M Polish Association, Polish American Council of Texas, Polish Association of Texas in Dallas, Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Program and AgriLife Extension.