Jan Karski


I'm reading Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer.

I will write a review of the book, another day.  However, in the book, Irena tells the story of Jan Karski.  What he did affected me so much, that I need to post it immediately!

The time is World War II, Poland.  The year is 1942.  A spy by the name of Jan Karski, from the Polish-government-in-exile, was assigned to gather evidence of the Holocaust out to the world.  Karski toured the Polish underground network.  He was disguised as a Ukrainian partisan in uniform so he could get close to trains, prison camps, and extermination centers.  A dentist removed several of his teeth so the resultant swelling would disguise his Polish-accented German.  I guess it was obvious that he had recent dental work done.

He traveled taking pictures of places, documents and other evidence of the genocide.  He went from Poland to Berlin, then through Vichy France to Marseilles where the French underground smuggled him across the Pyrenees into Spain.  Several weeks later, Jan Karski related his story in London.  Newspapers declined to publish his story, nevermind the pictures!  No one believed him.

Today there is a Jan Karski Award for Valor and Compassion, presented by the American Center of Polish Culture.

I guess it isn't his courageous deed that so impressed me, worthy as it is, as the refusal of the Allies to believe.  What other evidence did they need?!


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