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18.05.2020

Jan Karski’s testimony on the deportation procedure

Presented video is about Karski witnessed the loading Jewish victims on a train in the Izbica transit ghetto.

Jan Karski was born in 1914 in Łódź, Poland. Karski was the youngest of eight children in a Roman Catholic family. He graduated in law and diplomacy from the University of Lviv and the Volhynian School of Cadet Reserves. Before the outbreak of World War II, he worked as a diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In September 1939, Karski together with thousands of Polish officers found themselves in Soviet captivity. Rounded up along with officers, policemen, and leading citizens from the eastern part of his country, he would have been sent to one of the camps for Polish prisoners of war in the USSR but he escaped. He fled Soviet captivity and returned to the German Nazi-occupied part of Poland. After arriving in Warsaw, Karski got involved in the resistance movement and became a courier of the Polish Underground State. Speaking several languages and having a photographic memory, he set off on a mission of smuggling information out of Poland to the Polish Government in Exile, first in France and later in England, carrying secret orders and instructions.

Karski twice infiltrated Warsaw’s Jewish Ghetto to witness its horrors. In 1942 he personally provided detailed reports and, as an eyewitness, appealed to the British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden and representatives of the British media to take action to stop the Holocaust. In July 1943, two months after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Karski met the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House. Sadly, his messages largely fell on deaf ears.
After the war Jan Karski remained in the United States. He graduated from Georgetown University in Washington DC with a doctorate, then taught international relations and the theory of communism at the School of Foreign Service for forty years, educating the American diplomatic elite. In 1965, he married a Polish Jewish woman, Pola Nireńska, an outstanding dancer and choreographer who lost part of her family in the Holocaust.
For many years Jan Karski did not talk about his wartime experiences, wanting to put that horrific chapter behind him, ultimately, he had no choice but to speak out. His role in informing the free world about the Holocaust became known only after the interview he gave in 1978 to Claud Lanzmann making the film "Shoah".
In 1982, the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem honored Karski with the title of a Righteous Among the Nations. He also was awarded two high honors from Poland, the Order of the White Eagle and the Virtuti Militari. Karski’s extraordinary legacy was recognized by President Barack Obama on May 29, 2012, when he was decorated posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. Jan Karski died on July 13, 2000, in Washington.

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