Karski, who was a courier for the Polish Underground State, is known as “the man who wanted to stop the Holocaust," Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, president of the Educational Foundation of Jan Karski, which is organising the exhibition 'Jan Karski. A mission for the future,' said.
“Jan Karski is unfortunately a still little-known figure…it turns out that many people do not know who he was. And yet his character and his mission during the war are still today an example. The values presented by Karski - morality, a sense of mission, courage - are still valid,” Junczyk-Ziomecka said.
“When he fell into the hands of the Gestapo and tortured, he was afraid he could not bear the pain and would start exposing colleagues from the Polish Underground State and considered suicide. He was a believer and for Catholics that is a mortal sin. His attitude, as Adam Rotfeld once wrote, symbolises the best face of Polish patriotism,” Junczyk-Ziomecka added.
Tuesday's opening of the exhibition is at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, after a lecture by Maciej Sadowski.
"He [Sadowski] has developed an interesting form to portray Karski's biography using photographs. These photographs will be published in the book "Jan Karski. A photobiography,” Junczyk-Ziomecka said.
"We see him first as a junior high school student in Łódź, then a law student at the University of Lvov..We follow its fate as a soldier of the Polish Underground State, a courier and emissary, then a student and later a lecturer at Georgetown University,” Junczyk-Ziomecka continued.
In the pictures you can see, among others Karski at a New Year's eve ball before the war, a photograph of the wedding of Pola Nireńską at a Washington church, a meeting in 1990 with the emigree Polish intellectual Jerzy Giedroyc in Paris or conversations with democratic opposition activist Jacek Kuron and veteran fighter of Warsaw's 1943 Jewish ghetto rising Marek Edelman.
“We also see a beautiful photo of a young, handsome, smiling Karski, which shows him in a different light. As a rule we know him as an older man.”
Karski died 2000 aged 86.
Starting in 1942, Karski reported to the Polish, British and US governments on the situation in Nazi-occupied Poland, especially on the destruction of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto and the Holocaust of Polish Jews.
In 1982, the Yad Vashem Instiutute in Jerusalem recognised Karski as Righteous Among the Nations and in 1994 he was made an honorary citizen of Israel in honour of his efforts on behalf of Polish Jews during the Holocaust. (jh/rk)