Three Brushes with Death, Memoirs from Three Nazi Concentration Camps
We have heard about many of the terrible things that happened in occupied Poland during WWII in the Nazi Concentration Camps, but how many of us have heard first hand accounts of those events? One of my distant relatives (Mirosław Firkowski) found himself in three of these camps when he was a teenager, and since then has documented what happened to him via his memoirs in a book "Prez trzy kacety" (in English: Three Brushes with Death - Memories from three Nazi concentration camps). His original book which won honorable mention in a writing contest sponsored by the Oświęcim Museum was written only in Polish and was made available at the Auschwitz Museum store.
In 2004 when I went to Poland & visited Auschwitz, my father and I were taking photos. After meeting Mirosław at the First Firkowski Family Reunion, Mirosław saw one of the photos and realized there was a mistake in a document we photographed. He investigated the error and corrected it and rewrote his book (here is another example of being in the right place and the right time that allowed me to indirectly correct history).
Mirosław also had the book translated into German and English in order to reach a wider audience. His second edition had one version that was Polish/German and one that was Polish/English. I have both the original and the second edition in Polish/English. After reading it, I thought it was important that his story needed to be heard by others. Mirosław was born in 1922 and after a long life, sadly he passed away at the age of 92 in 2014. He spent is older years making sure that the younger generation never forgot what happened at those camps. In addition to writing his book, he had many speaking engagements and was available to reporters and many other historians to tell his story. Despite the bad start to his life, I found his energy and good spirits addicting when I met him in 2004 and 2006. He was such a wonderful man. His story must not be forgotten.
While in Poland in 2015, I met with his son Piotr, and made arrangements to have a supply of these books in English to be shipped to me in the US, so I could make them available here. Discover the true facts for yourself!
On the occasion of placing my memoirs in your hands, let me confess that "bringing them into the world" was difficult and hard. Their part concerning KL Auschwitz, written in the years 1970-1975, was awarded an honourable mention in the competition held by the International Auschwitz Committee, which encouraged me to continue working on them. The whole writing process lasted quite long, being disrupted by my illness and, perhaps, the worst and the hardest, by the complusion to think back to those ghastly and tough experiences. And that later depression of mine, so hard to overcome... Today, 69 years later, there have only been a small handful of us - the witnesses - left, out of millions living back then! Last wills have little room for memories, and there are so many wrongs, with people having so little knowledge of those days.
Have I succeeded in arousing anyone's interest, developing anyone's sensitivity to the evil of war, making any heart more sensitive or broadening anyone's knowledge with these memoirs?
Time will tell!
Mirosław Firkowski, aka "Sławek"
arrested on 12 December 1940 in Końskie, Poland KL
Auschwitz inmate no. 13182 since 5/4/1941"
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