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Jan Karski - A Forgotten Patriot?


FloatingVoterTralee

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Came across a rather unusual book yesterday "The Story of a Secret State", in which the thread's titular Pole details his wartime experiences - escaping from a Russian POW camp and then working for the Polish Underground in various capacities from propagandist to liaison between the Parliament and the Government-in-Exile, based in Paris. The most extaordinary passage, however, details his interviews with Jewish leaders, detailing the ongoing Holocaust in progress, before entering a camp and attempting to convince a guard to save some of the inmates. The book concludes with Karski giving a detailed account of the genocide to the United Nations (as the Allies were officially known), and having been published in 1944, it must have been one of the earliest published accounts of what was occurring in Europe. It appears official efforts are in progress to commemorate Karski's memory on the centennial of his birth, but his name should be more widely publicised.
 

Northtipp

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Came across a rather unusual book yesterday "The Story of a Secret State", in which the thread's titular Pole details his wartime experiences - escaping from a Russian POW camp and then working for the Polish Underground in various capacities from propagandist to liaison between the Parliament and the Government-in-Exile, based in Paris. The most extaordinary passage, however, details his interviews with Jewish leaders, detailing the ongoing Holocaust in progress, before entering a camp and attempting to convince a guard to save some of the inmates. The book concludes with Karski giving a detailed account of the genocide to the United Nations (as the Allies were officially known), and having been published in 1944, it must have been one of the earliest published accounts of what was occurring in Europe. It appears official efforts are in progress to commemorate Karski's memory on the centennial of his birth, but his name should be more widely publicised.
Sounds fascinating.

Story of a Secret State: Jan Karski: 9781931541398: Amazon.com: Books
 

owedtojoy

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Came across a rather unusual book yesterday "The Story of a Secret State", in which the thread's titular Pole details his wartime experiences - escaping from a Russian POW camp and then working for the Polish Underground in various capacities from propagandist to liaison between the Parliament and the Government-in-Exile, based in Paris. The most extaordinary passage, however, details his interviews with Jewish leaders, detailing the ongoing Holocaust in progress, before entering a camp and attempting to convince a guard to save some of the inmates. The book concludes with Karski giving a detailed account of the genocide to the United Nations (as the Allies were officially known), and having been published in 1944, it must have been one of the earliest published accounts of what was occurring in Europe. It appears official efforts are in progress to commemorate Karski's memory on the centennial of his birth, but his name should be more widely publicised.
I am not sure in what sense Karski was "forgotten". He gets a lot of recognition in books like Norman Davies' Warsaw 1944 as a famous courier for the Polish Underground.

His report also contained worrying information that the Nazis had convinced many Poles that Poland had been betrayed to the Soviets by the Jews. This fed into an anti-semitism that was already present in Poland.

According to Davies, Karski's real name seems to have been Jan Kozielewski, but does not give much details of him otherwise.

It is indeed right and fitting that he should be properly commemorated.
 

parentheses

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His report also contained worrying information that the Nazis had convinced many Poles that Poland had been betrayed to the Soviets by the Jews. This fed into an anti-semitism that was already present in Poland.
Jews were very strongly identified with Communism in Poland. As it happened the post war Communist governments in Poland contained quite a few Jewish Communists, and also the secret police.

However of course Communist persecution in Poland though vicious never approached the wholesale slaughter inflicted by the Nazis

In 1968 Gomulka used the 6 day war as an excuse to purge the Jewish communists out of Poland. Interestingly one of those purged was the brother of Adam Michnik, who became one of the leading members of Solidarity
 

FloatingVoterTralee

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I am not sure in what sense Karski was "forgotten". He gets a lot of recognition in books like Norman Davies' Warsaw 1944 as a famous courier for the Polish Underground.
True, but in terms of general awareness about the Holocaust, Schindler tends to get most of the credit, and in terms of resistance efforts, the French tend to be rather more celebrated than the Poles, so it just struck me as a double instance where someone had been inadvertently overlooked historically.
 

owedtojoy

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True, but in terms of general awareness about the Holocaust, Schindler tends to get most of the credit, and in terms of resistance efforts, the French tend to be rather more celebrated than the Poles, so it just struck me as a double instance where someone had been inadvertently overlooked historically.
You are correct in you comparison of Poles versus French.

Even today, there are people who dismiss the Warsaw Uprising as the attempt of the Polish bourgeoisie to prevent the march of Socialism, whereas the Free French Paris revolt on the eve of Liberation, mainly carried through by the Communist Resistance, is celebrated.

There are many others who deserve credit besides Oskar Schindler. However, we should not begrudge him the recognition he has received, because no doubt we all like to think we would do the same in his shoes. Here is an Irish Righteous Gentile of whom we can be proud, but who I am not sure is adequately commemorated in his own country:

Hugh O'Flaherty - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
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