„I've been trying to live my life so that in the hour of my death I would rather feel joy, than fear.“

After the announcement of the death sentence.
Source: Bartłomiej Kuraś, Witold Pilecki – w Auschwitzu z własnej woli, „Ale Historia”, w: „Gazeta Wyborcza”, 22 kwietnia 2013.

Adopted from Wikiquote. Last update June 3, 2021. History
Witold Pilecki photo
Witold Pilecki7
World War II concentration camp leader and resistor 1901 - 1948

Related quotes

Harry Emerson Fosdick photo
Euripidés photo

„I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.“

—  Euripidés ancient Athenian playwright -480 - -406 BC

„I wanted to live my life so that people would know unmistakably that I am alive, so that when I finally die people will know the difference for sure between my living and my death.“

—  June Jordan Poet, essayist, playwright, feminist and bisexual activist 1936 - 2002

"Many Rivers To Cross" (1981); later published in Some of Us Did Not Die : New and Selected Essays of June Jordan (2002)
Context: I wanted to be strong. I never wanted to be weak again as long as I lived. I thought about my mother and her suicide and I thought about how my father could not tell whether she was dead or alive.
I wanted to get well and what I wanted to do as soon as I was strong, actually, what I wanted to do was I wanted to live my life so that people would know unmistakably that I am alive, so that when I finally die people will know the difference for sure between my living and my death.
And I thought about the idea of my mother as a good woman and I rejected that, because I don't see why it's a good thing when you give up, or when you cooperate with those who hate you or when you polish and iron and mend and endlessly mollify for the sake of the people who love the way that you kill yourself day by day silently.
And I think all of this is really about women and work. Certainly this is all about me as a woman and my life work. I mean I am not sure my mother’s suicide was something extraordinary. Perhaps most women must deal with a similar inheritance, the legacy of a woman whose death you cannot possibly pinpoint because she died so many, many times and because, even before she became my mother, the life of that woman was taken; I say it was taken away.

Terry Pratchett photo

„If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice.“

—  Terry Pratchett English author 1948 - 2015

Final lines of his Richard Dimbleby lecture Shaking Hands With Death on euthanasia and assisted suicide, quoted in "Terry Pratchett: my case for a euthanasia tribunal" in The Guardian (2 February 2010) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/feb/02/terry-pratchett-assisted-suicide-tribunal
General sources
Context: I dare say that quite a few people have contemplated death for reasons that much later seemed to them to be quite minor. If we are to live in a world where a socially acceptable "early death" can be allowed, it must be allowed as a result of careful consideration.
Let us consider me as a test case. As I have said, I would like to die peacefully with Thomas Tallis on my iPod before the disease takes me over and I hope that will not be for quite some time to come, because if I knew that I could die at any time I wanted, then suddenly every day would be as precious as a million pounds. If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice.

Ernesto Che Guevara photo
Salman Rushdie photo

„And if that plunges me into contradiction and paradox, so be it; I've lived in that messy ocean all my life. I've fished in it for my art.“

—  Salman Rushdie British Indian novelist and essayist 1947

Address at Columbia University (1991)
Context: "Our lives teach us who we are." I have learned the hard way that when you permit anyone else's description of reality to supplant your own — and such descriptions have been raining down on me, from security advisers, governments, journalists, Archbishops, friends, enemies, mullahs — then you might as well be dead. Obviously, a rigid, blinkered, absolutist world view is the easiest to keep hold of, whereas the fluid, uncertain, metamorphic picture I've always carried about is rather more vulnerable. Yet I must cling with all my might to … my own soul; must hold on to its mischievous, iconoclastic, out-of-step clown-instincts, no matter how great the storm. And if that plunges me into contradiction and paradox, so be it; I've lived in that messy ocean all my life. I've fished in it for my art. This turbulent sea was the sea outside my bedroom window in Bombay. It is the sea by which I was born, and which I carry within me wherever I go.
"Free speech is a non-starter," says one of my Islamic extremist opponents. No, sir, it is not. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.

John Lennon photo
Bertolt Brecht photo

„Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life“

—  Bertolt Brecht, The Mother

Pelagea Vlasova in Scene 10
The Mother (1930)
Variant: Don't be afraid of death so much as an inadequate life.
Source: Jewish Wife and Other Short Plays: Includes: In Search of Justice; Informer; Elephant Calf; Measures Taken; Exception and the Rule; Salzburg Dance of Death

RuPaul photo
Oliver Cromwell photo

„I would have been glad to have lived under my wood side, to have kept a flock of sheep, rather than undertook such a Government as this is.“

—  Oliver Cromwell English military and political leader 1599 - 1658

Statement to Parliament (4 February 1658) quoted in The Diary of Thomas Burton, esq., volume 2: April 1657 - February 1658 (1828), p. 466

Jack London photo
Nora Roberts photo
Stephen Chbosky photo
Emil M. Cioran photo
Jean Cocteau photo

„Here I am trying to live, or rather, I am trying to teach the death within me how to live.“

—  Jean Cocteau French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker 1889 - 1963

John F. Kennedy photo

„All my life I've known better than to depend on the experts. How could I have been so stupid, to let them go ahead?“

—  John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States of America 1917 - 1963

Conversation with Theodore C. Sorensen concerning the Bay of Pigs Invasion; as quoted in Sorensen's Kennedy (1965), p. 309.
Attributed

„Do not fear death, but rather the unlived life. You don't have to live forever. You just have to live.“

—  Natalie Babbitt American children's writer and illustrator 1932 - 2016

Variant: Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.
Source: Tuck Everlasting: Scholastic Book Guides

Letitia Elizabeth Landon photo
Jeet Thayil photo
Charles Bukowski photo

Related topics