Jan Karski 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Academics from around the world gathered in Zamosc, Poland, on Wednesday and
Thursday to celebrate the memory of Jan Karski, the Polish resistance fighter
who brought the news of the destruction of European Jewry to the
The event, “Jan Karski – Witness, Emissary, Man,” was organized
under the aegis of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in
Poland in collaboration with the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin and
the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.
The Polish resistance chose
Karski (1914-2000), a former worker in the Polish Foreign Ministry, to bring
reports of Nazi atrocities to the attention of prime minister Wladyslaw
Sikorski, who was in exile in London.
Karski arranged to be smuggled into
the Warsaw Ghetto on two occasions.
It was largely thanks to hiss efforts
that word of the Holocaust reached Western ears in 1942 and 1943.
conference is especially important to the ministry, because Karski was a Polish
diplomat and a heroic emissary of the Polish underground who brought news of the
fate of Jews in Poland to the Polish government in exile and the free world,”
Dr. Sebastian Rejak, the Polish foreign minister’s plenipotentiary for relations
with the Jewish Diaspora, said at this week’s event.
“Jan Karski was imbued with what Thomas Mann called ‘the spirit of nobility,’ declared Dr. Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Congress. Weinbaum, who is the editor of the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, studied under Karski at Georgetown in the 1980s.
Karski, he said, “was a modest
man who would not have been happy that he was the center of so much attention,
that he had come to be regarded as a hero, and above all, that some people were
actually creating a cult of personality around his name... On the other hand, he
would have been very proud, however, of the younger generation of Polish
historians who have not recoiled from exposing the most painful and disgraceful
episodes in Poland’s wartime history. Professor Karski would have regarded them
as the most noble and courageous sons and daughters of the Polish nation,”