Jan Karski

Interview With Jan Karski
(Full Audio File, .ram format, RealAudio required)

A Little About Jan Karski

Jan Karski, a liaison officer of the Polish underground who infiltrated both the Warsaw Ghetto and a German concentration camp and then carried the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to a mostly disbelieving West, died Thursday (February 12, 2004) in the Washington, D.C., area. He was 86 and was a retired professor of history at Georgetown University.

The Interview

"I got a bitter lesson, a bitter lesson in Washington. I met Justice Frankfurter. (Felix Frankfurter, Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?) Yes. In the presence of the Polish ambassador, he was not interested in the Polish underground movement or in anything else. He only asked me, 'Please tell me what is happening to the Jews in your country. There are conflicting reports.' So to him I told, in 18-20 minutes, what I saw. Twice in the Warsaw ghetto, once in the concentration camp -- Wood established that it was Izbica, the name of that concentration camp. I described what I saw. Then afterward, he got up, (and) started to walk in front of me and the ambassador. And then took his seat and said, 'Mr. Karski.' I remember every word. You don't forget these kinds of incidents. 'Mr. Karski, a man like me, talking to a man like you, must be totally frank. So I say: I am unable to believe what you told me.'
"So the Polish ambassador, they were friends, jumped in and said, 'Felix, you don't mean it! You cannot tell him to his face that he's lying!'
"And Frankfurter said, 'Mr. Ambassador, I did not say that this young man is lying. I said I am unable to believe what he told me.'"

(Return to Main Page)