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4 Auschwitz inmates successfully escaped by stealing SS uniforms & a car and driving out the front gates of the camp


On 20 June 1942, the SS guard stationed at the exit to Auschwitz was frightened. In front of him was the car of Rudolph Höss, the commandant of the infamous concentration camp. Inside were four armed SS men, one of whom – an Untersturmführer, or second lieutenant, was shouting and swearing at him.

“Wake up, you buggers!” the officer screamed in German. “Open up or I’ll open you up!” Terrified, the guard scrambled to raise the barrier, allowing the powerful motor to pass through and drive away.

Yet had he looked closer, the guard would have noticed something strange: the men were sweating and ashen-faced with fear. For far from being Nazis, the men were Polish prisoners in stolen uniforms and a misappropriated car, who had just made one of the most audacious escapes in the history of Auschwitz. And the architect of the plot, the second lieutenant, was a boy scout, to whom the association’s motto “Be prepared” had become a lifeline.

Kazimierz Piechowski born October 3, 1919 Rajkowy, Poland) is a retired engineer, a Boy Scout during the Second Polish Republic, a political prisoner of the German Nazis at Auschwitz concentration camp, a soldier in the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) then a prisoner for seven years of the communist government of Poland. He is known for his famous escape from Auschwitz I along with three other prisoners dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, fully armed in a stolen SS staff car, in which they drove out the main gate—”a universally acclaimed… [feat] of exceptional courage and gallantry”, in the words of Kazimierz Smoleń.


After the collapse of Polish resistance to the German invasion, Piechowski along with fellow boy scout Alfons “Alki” Kiprowski (b. 9 October 1921) were captured by the German occupiers in their hometown of Tczew and impressed into a work gang clearing the destroyed sections of the railway bridge over the Vistula, which had previously been blown up by the Polish military to impede Nazi transports. Polish Boy Scouts were among the groups targeted by the Gestapo and the Selbstschutz. They decided to leave Tczew on November 12, 1939 and attempted to get to France to join thefree Polish Army.

While crossing the border into Hungary they were caught by a German patrol. They were first sent to a Gestapo prison in Baligrod. They were told by the Gestapo “Actually, we should shoot you, but we have for you something much more interesting.” They were sent to a prison inSanok next, then to Montelupich Prison in Kraków. Their last stop before Auschwitz was a prison in Wiśnicz.

Piechowski was sent to Auschwitz as a political prisoner, the so-calledLegionsgaenger, one wishing to join Polish military formations—or “legions”—abroad. Moreover, the Polish Boy Scouts were labeled a criminal organization in Occupied Poland. Piechowski was among


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