”’All I can say is that I saw it, and it is the truth.’ Jan Karski, Poland and the Holocaust 1940–2014”

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


2014 is by the Polish government declared as the year of Jan Karski. Fourteen years after his passing, Karski has become an official Polish representative when discussing world politics. One reason is that history politics more and more has become an integrated part of politics and diplomacy. Karski is, as both as a resistance fighter and, first and foremost, as one of the persons who brought attention to the ongoing Holocaust, a hero in his own rights. Since the Holocaust is vital in many moral-based discussions on right and wrong then and now, it is not surprising to find that he is highlighted by the Polish government this year.
However, Jan Karski had for many years difficulties to get attention for his testimony. Already during World War II he had difficulties to get an active response from Allied leaders. One difficulty was that, in his own words, he had “no proof, no photographs” from the ongoing genocide. Another problem that became more obvious as the war came to an end was the division between East and West that would turn into the Cold War a few years later. Karski fought for a free, independent Poland. When it was obvious that Poland came under Soviet control, Karski decided to stay in USA.
Jan Karski is not least interesting as a person that personifies modern memory politics. He was interviewed by Claude Lanzmann and appeared in the documentary Shoah, but his efforts to forewarn about the Holocaust was not highlighted, which was a big disappointment for Karski. It took also some time before his efforts during World War II became fully recognized in Poland after 1989.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History


  • Jan Karski, Poland, the Holocaust, Second World War, Cold War
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
EventAssociation for the Study of Nationalities - Columbia University, New York
Duration: 2015 Apr 24 → …


ConferenceAssociation for the Study of Nationalities
Period2015/04/24 → …