photo - wikipedia
The orchestra was conducted by Poland's Michał Dworzyński, Music Director of the Krakow Philharmonic, and the programme included music by Mozart, Stanisław Moniuszko (the concert overture Fairytale) and Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, with the American pianist Brian Ganz as the soloist.
In a special address before Saturday's concert, the Polish Ambassador in Washington Ryszard Schnepf spoke about Karski's legacy. The concerts were held in the 1, 600-seat Strathmore Hall.
A few days before the concerts Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a draft legislation to name April 24, 2014 'Jan Karski Day' in America.
The draft is co-sponsored by Democratic Senator Richard J. Durbin and Republican Senator Mark Kirk. The Jan Karski Educational Foundation in the United States was actively involved in the initiative.
Senator Durbin told the Polish Press Agency: “I had the honour to be Professor Karski's student at Georgetown University. He was an inspirational personality who had an influence on the lives of many people'. Senator Kirk added that 'many people should be grateful to Jan Karski for the heroism displayed during World War Two”.
As a member of anti-Nazi resistance, Jan Karski took part in courier missions with dispatches from the Polish underground to the Polish Government-in-Exile, then based in France.
During one such mission, in July 1940, he was arrested by the Gestapo in Slovakia, tortured and transported to a hospital in Nowy Sącz, from where he was rescued by Polish resistance. He soon resumed active service in the Information and Propaganda Bureau of the Home Army's High Command, and in the summer of 1942 was assigned to perform a secret mission to London on behalf of the Polish Government's Delegate in Poland and several political parties.
In order to gather evidence on the plight of Polish Jews, he was twice smuggled by Jewish underground leaders into the Warsaw Ghetto.
He met several Allied leaders, including Anthony Eden, Britain's foreign secretary, and US president Franklin Roosevelt, but failed to secure support for Polish Jews.
After the war, Karski settled in the United States and became a professor as Georgetown University in Washington. He remained an advocate of Holocaust memory until his death in 2000, aged 86. In 2012, he was posthumously decorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian honour.
Karski's 'Story of a Secret State', subtitled 'My Report to the World', was first published in the United States in 1944 and sold over 360, 000 copies there by the end of the war. It was re-issued by Georgetown University last year. (mk/pg)