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4 November 2014

The exibition about Jan Karski in Toronto within the Holocaust Education Week

On 3 November 2014 the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto launched the French-English exhibition "The world knew - Jan Karski mission for humanity" prepared by the Polish History Museum especially for bilingual Canadian public. The exhibition was taken into the week programme on the Holocaust remembrance which takes place annually.

"I am very pleased that the Polish and Jewish communities, together, are presenting this exhibit about Jan Karski in Toronto. Jan Karski was a heroic model of courage who brought an eye-witness account of the tragedy faced by the Jewish people in occupied Europe. And yet, not very many Jewish people know about him – said Berl Nadler of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Toronto.

 

Keynote speaker during the opening of the exhibition was Irene Tomaszewski, a Polish-Canadian writer, co-author of a book about the Council for Aid to Jews in occupied Poland, Codename Żegota: Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942-45 – the Most Dangerous Conspiracy in Wartime Europe published in the US by Praeger in 2010, and editor/translator of Inside a Gestapo Prison: The Letters of Krystyna Wituska. She was the founding president of the Montreal-based Canadian Foundation for Polish Studies.

  

“Most of us here know about Dr. Karski’s historic mission and about the many honours bestowed on him,” said Tomaszewski. But perhaps he is best described by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who called him “ a patriot and a truth teller. Both of these attributes were essential to his mission.” To carry out his mission, Karski entered the Warsaw Ghetto, met with Jewish leaders there, and accepted an assignment to go in secrecy to a transit camp where he would witness the deportation of Jews to death camps then in progress. He then brought his account to London, where he met with the British Foreign Minister and other officials and continued on to the United States where he met with President Roosevelt, Chief Justice Felix Frankfurter , who said he could not believe him, and journalist Walter Lippman, who opted not to write a story about this. No action was taken by the Western Allies to come to the aid of the Jews. In summary, Tomaszewski said that Karski “often felt that he had failed… it tormented him.” However, despite the indifference of the allies, Karski’s “wartime testimony was proven right, and the failure to act has been shown to be a great moral failure.”  His legacy was nothing less than the truth, and he became a powerful voice in Holocaust education. Despite his protests to the contrary, he is a hero – and inspiration for our times.

© 2012 Ministry of Foreign Affairs