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Date and place of birth?”

13 May 1901 in Olonets.”

One of the four uniformed men placed a bucket full of sawdust on the floor and forced the prisoner’s face into it. The others began to shove handfuls of sawdust into his mouth. He managed to cry out, “Long live free Poland” before a white gag was tied over his mouth and he was kicked to the ground. Two guards dragged the semi-conscious prisoner, barely able to shuffle his legs, to the lower floor of the building. There were a few more steps down, but he was not to descend them on his own two feet. A moment later a shot rang out. The body tumbled limply down the stairs, and a pool of blood appeared on the concrete floor.

Piotr Śmietański, the executioner of Mokotów, always finished off his victims in the same way. The shot to the back of the head was a method borrowed from the Soviet NKVD, which in the spring of 1940 had murdered around 23 thousand Polish officers in the vicinity of Katyń in this way, thus it was referred to as the Katyń method. Around 5 o’clock the next morning, the body of Witold Pilecki was tossed onto a small horse-drawn wooden cart and taken away in an unknown direction. It is only now, in 2013, that his burial site has finally been located, where his body was dumped 65 years ago like a sack of potatoes.

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