Tuesday, April 26, 2011

At Auschwitz, Boy Scouts were Prepared

     You probably never expected to hear that Hitler had teenagers arrested on the charge of being Boy Scouts. You probably never expected to hear than many were sent to death camps on that very charge.
     There are two kinds of Holocaust deniers: those who deny that it happened and those who deny than more than two thirds of it happened. Both types of Holocaust deniers act from cynical political motives.
     No doubt you've heard that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Actually, nine million people were killed in the Holocaust. Hitler's three million other targets for extermination were labor unionists, communists, homosexuals, physically handicapped persons, mentally handicapped persons, Christian ministers who refused to propagandize for the Nazis, and Boy Scouts. If you read the Boy Scout Oath and the Twelve Points of Scout Law, you can see why the Nazis would consider Boy Scouts a security risk.
     When Kazimierz Piechowski was ten years old, he joined the Boy Scouts in his native Poland. His mother wept for joy.
     Fast forward to September 6, 1939.
     Only five days after Hitler's troops invaded Poland, the Nazis began shooting Boy Scouts in the streets. Piechowski and some other Boy Scouts tried to escape across the border into Hungary, but they were caught and sent to the Auschwitz death camp.
     Once ensconced in the death camp, they found that other Boy Scouts in the camp had already formed a resistance movement. Those who could speak German found jobs in the motor pool, documents office, and other parts of the camp.
     Piechowski’s job was less appealing. He and another boy had the responsibility of loading naked corpses onto a cart to be hauled to the crematorium. He later got a job in the supply warehouse.
     Two years to the day after Piechowski had entered Auschwitz, he learned that a friend of his—also a Boy Scout—was scheduled for execution. From that day, three Boy Scouts and a Catholic priest hurriedly laid plans to escape.
     The Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared," took on a new dimension.  Piechowski managed to steal some SS uniforms and even guns and ammunition. A Boy Scout who worked in the motor pool actually stole the Auschwitz commandant's car.  
     They had no pass to get through the gate, but desperation gave them plenty of brass. Piechowski, dressed in the uniform of an SS lieutenant, threatened the guard and was allowed through the gate.
     He later joined the Polish Resistance. When the communists took over Poland, Piechowski was arrested again—this time for being a member of the Polish Resistance. He was 33 years old when he finally got out of prison.
     Kazimierz Piechowski is now 91 years old, and he often speaks to Boy Scout groups about his experiences. When asked if it bothered him to relive his experiences, he replies, "I am a Scout, so I have to do my duty—and be cheerful and merry. And I will be a Scout to the end of my life."

     Kazimierz Piechowski's  story is worth reading in full:

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