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  • 24 April 2014

    April 24 marks the centennial of the birth of Jan Karski, the Pole who gave Western Allies the first eyewitness account of the Holocaust in 1942. On the occasion of the Year of Jan Karski, declared by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Polish diplomacy has been telling the international public about the accomplishments of the heroic Home Army emissary.

    The 28-year-old Karski, an eye witness of the Holocaust as a courier for the Polish Underground State, personally delivered detailed reports on German actions taken against the Jewish population to representatives of the British authorities and appealed to the British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and the media to stop the Holocaust.

    In July 1943, following the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by the Nazis, Jan Karski went to Washington where he met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Karski’s actions and his report presenting findings from the Warsaw Ghetto which he infiltrated twice and the German transit camp in Izbica where he was smuggled as a guard, had not led to an Allied  intervention. After World War II Jan Karski came to live in the US.


    In 1998, Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, named Jan Karski a Righteous Among the Nations and presented his candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize. Jan Karski, whose real name was Jan Kozielewski, was born in 1914. It is not certain, however, whether the exact date of his birth was April 24 or June 24, since there are discrepancies between documents and family archives. He died in Washington on July 13, 2000, aged 86.


    On December 6, 2013, Poland’s Parliament named 2014 the Year of Jan Karski, voting on a motion by Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski. The year 2014 will the height of a four-year campaign to restore the memory of the legendary emissary that was initiated by the Polish History Museum in cooperation with the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


    Poland’s diplomacy has planned a number of events for 2014 to promote, together with partners, the accomplishments of Jan Karski (1914-2000). The year of commemorating the Polish hero was inaugurated on January 8 by an academic conference and an exhibition in the European Parliament in Brussels.


    Learn more about Jan Karski:


    Source: Maciej Sadowski "Jan Karski. Fotobiografia", Wydawnictwo VEDA, 2014

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