Polish Holocaust survivor who escaped Auschwitz dies aged 98

Warsaw (AFP) –


Polish Holocaust survivor Kazimierz Piechowski, who spectacularly escaped Auschwitz by stealing the car of a Nazi SS officer, died on Friday aged 98, the state Institute for National Remembrance (INR) said.

Piechowski, who became prisoner number 918 when he was deported to the infamous death camp in 1940, escaped two years later with three fellow prisoners in one of the most daring escape efforts of World War II.

They fled with a report documenting the running of the camp, providing the exiled Polish resistance detailed evidence of the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

Piechowski and the three others managed to escape after stealing uniforms and guns of officers belonging to the Nazis' feared SS branch and hijacking the Steyr 220 convertible belonging to camp commander Rudolf Hoess.

"Some people tell the story that once we were free we sent Hoess a postcard thanking him for letting use the car," Piechowski told the INR institute in 2012.

"The truth is we did nothing of the sort."

After escaping, Piechowski joined a Polish resistance group and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after the war's end by the communist authorities.

His stunning wartime escape featured in a BBC documentary that saw Piechowski star as himself.

Piechowski died Friday in the Polish port city of Gdansk.

More than 1.1 million people died at the hands of the Nazis in Auschwitz, including one million Europe Jews, between 1940-45. mc/via/pg/pvh