The man who tried to stop the Holocaust: Jan Karski remembered in San Francisco – tonight!



Never heard of him?  You should.  He got a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom last year.  Now you’ll get your chance to learn more about him tonight at the University of San Francisco.

In 1942-43, Jan Kozielewski, using the pseudonym Jan Karski, reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western allies about the Nazi-German extermination camps in occupied Poland.  Churchill and Roosevelt didn’t believe him.

So why haven’t you heard of him?  As I wrote here in a post about Captain Witold Pilecki (the man who had the distinction of being the only known person to smuggle into Auschwitz, so he could report back to the Allies about the conditions there):

The Communist government was anxious to bury the stories of Polish wartime heroes – it’s one reason, for example, the name of Irena Sendler, the woman who saved 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto, did not become known until after 1989.  (I’ve written about her, oh, here and here and here and here and here and here.)  Or the name of Jan Karski, who received a Presidential Medal of Freedom last month.

But there’s more to it than that: in 1978, French film-maker Claude Lanzmann recorded Karski’s testimony for the 1985 film Shoah, but Karski’s footage wound up on the cutting room floor.  After the 1994 biography Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust Lanzmann released a documentary, The Karski Report consisting of the previously unreleased second half of his interview with Karski.

Tom Wood, coauthor of Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust, will discuss Karski’s life and legacy and sign books afterward at 6.30 p.m. tonight the University of San Francisco’s McLaren Conference Center 251.  (Wood coauthored the book with Stanisław Jankowski.)  The event is free and open to the public.

The_Mass_Extermination_of_Jews_in_German_Occupied_.pdf“Karski is a story of incredible valor, a story of personal courage and uncommon determination to bring to Allied leaders the awful truth about the mass murder of the Jews of Europe. It is the story of a man who understood the poisonous effects of bigotry and hatred. His fight against Nazi oppression came to an end in 1945. His fight against anti-Semitism has never stopped,” according to Miles Lerman, Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Interviewed in 1995, five years before his death, Karski had this to say about the Holocaust:

It was easy for the Nazis to kill Jews, because they did it. The allies considered it impossible and too costly to rescue the Jews, because they didn’t do it. The Jews were abandoned by all governments, church hierarchies and societies, but thousands of Jews survived because thousands of individuals in Poland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland helped to save Jews. Now, every government and church says, “We tried to help the Jews”, because they are ashamed, they want to keep their reputations. They didn’t help, because six million Jews perished, but those in the government, in the churches they survived. No one did enough.

2 Responses to “The man who tried to stop the Holocaust: Jan Karski remembered in San Francisco – tonight!”

  1. Ryan Says:

    A true hero.
    Tipcally the kind of person that deserves the highest respect.

  2. Henry R Lew Says:

    Lion Hearts a new book by Henry R. Lew with Jan Karski on the cover and a chapter on him in the book. You might like to look at it.