The Pilecki Family House Museum has just opened
– a museum devoted entirely to Witold Pilecki and his wife Maria.
This new point on the cultural map of Poland is located precisely halfway between Warsaw and Białystok – in Ostrów Mazowiecka. The museum is located in the original, well-preserved family home of Maria Pilecka. On November 2, 2022, a permanent exhibition opened in this historic, restored building, showing – in a new light – the figure of one of Poland’s greatest heroes – the “Volunteer to Auschwitz”.
Ostrów Mazowiecka is a place where not only modern transport routes but also numerous historical threads intertwine. Before the Second World War, it was a thriving multicultural town with a training center for Polish soldiers, strong industry, and agriculture. It was here that Maria Ostrowska, with whom Witold Pilecki married in the local church, grew up. After the outbreak of WW2, the city found itself on the border of the General Government (note: a separate-run Nazi German administrative unit during WW2 on Polish territory) and the Soviet Union. Maria Pilecka took refuge with her children here and continued living at this address during Witold’s military service in the Anders’ Polish army and his falsified trial before the communist court. It is safe to say that this building is the only place within the current borders of Poland that we can call “home” to the Pilecki family.
“The museum’s task is to show Cavalry Captain Witold Pilecki not only as a Polish ‘superhero’ but also as an ordinary man,” says Karol Madaj, the museum’s director. “We want to tell both the details of his intelligence mission in a Nazi German concentration camp and the events and people that shaped his character. Through the lens of the town’s history, we also show the fate of Poland and the history of the Holocaust – the unprecedented crime reported by Pilecki’s reports from KL Auschwitz, of which one of the first acts took place not far from the museum’s headquarters. In preparing for the opening, we saw clearly that our mission is similar to that of Witold Pilecki. We want to inform about unknown German Nazi and Soviet crimes and integrate the local community. Passion for pursuing the museum’s mission has meant numerous historical education projects begun months in advance: We are happy to have become a meeting place even before the official opening. We have already managed to sing, debate, and even sew, and play board games together. We hope that after the opening, not only the young people with whom we are most active but also other visitors, young and old, will feel that our museum has ‘home’ and ‘family’ not only in the name, that it is a truly warm and welcoming place to which everyone is invited,” concludes the museum director.
The exhibition “About Maria and Witold Pilecki” was arranged on three levels of the historic house, built in 1901 by Konstanty Ostrowski – Maria Pilecka’s father. The authors presented Maria’s story on the ground floor and attic, including the period after her husband’s death. They also showed her immediate family and the town.
The life of Cavalry Captain Witold Pilecki was presented at different stages in eight rooms of the underground section. The uniquely designed museum exhibition interacts with images, light, and sound, combining traditional display means with modern multimedia solutions. Particularly noteworthy is the part of the story of Pilecki’s tragic death. Presented in a cinematic, fictional form, the story of the investigation, trial, and execution of the death sentence can become an almost immersive experience for viewers.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, the Pilecki Family House Museum offers a wide range of cultural, educational, popularization, and publishing activities. It is a new, meaningful place for cultural tourism, the inhabitants of Ostrów Mazowiecka and the surrounding area, as well as history and museum enthusiasts from all over Poland.
The opening of the permanent exhibition took place on 2 November 2022
The facility is open on weekdays from 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m., and at weekends from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The opening event of the Pileckis Family House Museum received the National Patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, on the Centenary of the Regaining of Independence. The museum is co-run by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Ostrów Mazowiecka.
For the Polish original, please see: