Happy Birthday Jan Karski

During WWII  Polish diplomat Jan Karski (1914 – 2000) worked hard to convey to the world the murdering of Warsaw Jews. He met privately with FDR in July 1943 with pleas for Allied intervention to help the millions of Jews being murdered. His words fell on deaf ears. He remained in the United States vowing not to return to Poland until it was free, and eventually became a professor at Georgetown University for 40 years. I would love to have taken one of his classes.

Jan Karski, (1914 – 2000) was raised in the industrial city of Łódź which had a high Jewish population and he studied side by side with many Jews at university in the 1930’s.  He was handsome, well-educated, Catholic, skilled in languages and a patriot in his belief of Polish independence.

Karski Secretly Entered the Warsaw Ghetto
Gifted with memory and languages, Karski became an emissary for the Polish resistance to the exiled Polish government in London and elsewhere. Before he left on a diplomatic mission he secretly entered the Warsaw Ghetto twice to see the deplorable conditions there. Those conditions haunted him the rest of his life. His official mission was to report on the Underground to the Polish government; his passion was to specifically draw attention to the plight of the Warsaw Jews.

IMG_2533Karski Met Privately with President Roosevelt
During a private meeting with Franklin Roosevelt in July 1943, he informed the president that millions of Jews had already been murdered, mass extermination was at a level never seen before, and the Jewish nation needed Allied intervention. In 1944 he dictated his book Story of a Secret State, My Report to the World  in 1944 as a plea for Poland’s difficult reality under Nazi rule, improve the image of Poland and gain American support against Soviet power. The book was reissued in 2013 with a foreword by Madeline Albright.

IMG_2534Jan Karski Foundation – Honors Values of Leadership, Courage and Integrity
The Jan Karski  Educational Foundation began in 2011 with the stated mission: to instill in people – especially youth – the values of leadership, courage and integrity, as exemplified by the life of Jan Karski. The foundation web site includes a wealth of further information, including videos and interviews. This post is far too short to fully explain the import and impact of Karski.

Headshot of Karski featured on both Yad Vashem and jankarski.net. Photos of statue to Jan Karski were taken in Warsaw in October 2013, not far from the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

” Never in the history of mankind, never anywhere in the realm of human relations did anything occur to compare with what was inflicted on the Jewish population of Poland.” Jan Karski, 1944

Jan Karski Educational Foundation

Share Post

Tags: Notable Poles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed