Imagine a person who, in the course of a brutal war, travels around Europe as an emissary of the Polish Underground State and who tries to commit suicide to avoid revealing his secrets when caught by the Gestapo in France.
Imagine a person whose release was nothing short of a miracle, who does not hide in the French countryside to wait for the war to be over, but goes to the United States on a new mission.
Imagine a person who is the first to tell the whole world about the hideous Nazi crimes that are perpetrated against the Jewish nation, and who penetrates the Warsaw ghetto and the Izbica camp to gather evidence of those heinous acts.
And – finally – imagine a person who, after the war, has a very successful academic career at one of the most important American universities, holding lectures for 40 years and having Bill Clinton, the future US President, among his students.
If you are unable to imagine all that or if you want to become familiar with Jan Karski’s life (1941-2000), take part in events organised all over Poland in the year celebrating his life and declared on the occasion of the centenary of his birth. This is the last year of a four-year programme entitled Jan Karski. An unfinished mission, under the honorary patronage of Bronisław Komorowski, the President of the Republic of Poland. Among other things the programme includes conferences, exhibitions and educational classes, not only in Warsaw, but also in Cracow, Białystok, Płock, Opole, Poznań and Radom.
If your town has not been put on the map of these events – you can still change it. Write a letter or phone the coordinators of the Year of Jan Karski and invite them to come to your place. You can organise an exhibition, film screening or classes at your school, in your organisation or town.
You don’t live in Poland? That’s no problem. Go to the webpage jankarski.org to gain access to a several dozen of films, reviews and an extensive base of photographs and documents linked to Jan Karski’s activity. You will see for yourself what the word “courage” really means and what true wisdom consists in.