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Author Info: Witold Pilecki



Gender: male
Hometown: Karelia
About: During World War I, in 1918, Pilecki joined a ZHP Scout section of the Polish self-defense units under General Władysław Wejtko in the Wilno area. When his sector of the front was overrun by the Bolsheviks, his unit for a time conducted partisan warfare behind enemy lines. Pilecki then joined the regular Polish Army and took part in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919–1920, serving under Major Jerzy Dąbrowski. He fought in the Polish retreat from Kiev as part of a cavalry unit defending Grodno (in present-day Belarus). On 5 August 1920, he joined the 211th Uhlan Regiment and fought in the crucial Battle of Warsaw and at Rudniki Forest (Puszcza Rudnicka) and took part in the liberation of Wilno.He was twice awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valor) for gallantry.After the Polish-Soviet War ended in 1921 with the Peace of Riga, Pilecki passed his high-school graduation exams (matura) in Wilno and passed the exams for an non-commissioned officer position in the Polish Army. He also studied at the Stefan Batory University in Wilno and rebuilt his family estate, ruined during the war. He then took officer training courses.He was assigned to a cavalry regiment in 1926 as ensign, or the second lieutenant of the reserves. While in the reserves, he actively supported local paramilitary training activities. In the interbellum, he worked on his family's farm in the village of Sukurcze and was known as a social work activist and an amateur painter. On 7 April 1931, he married Maria Pilecka (1906 – 6 February 2002), née Ostrowska. They had two children, born in Wilno: Andrzej (16 January 1932) and Zofia (14 March 1933). In 1938, he received the Silver Cross of Merit for his involvement in the community and social work.

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