The Holocaust: Jan Karski

Istvan Simon writes: I am most grateful to Ed Jajko for his contribution. Indeed, the Messenger from Poland, was Jan Kozielewski, aka Karski. I am also grateful to Ed for correcting me on  professor Kozielewski having been
a member of the Georgetown University rather than Princeton faculty.

The web site that Ed Jajko provided / is  of independent interest.  It is dedicated to the less well-known 5 million non-Jewish victims of  the  Holocaust. May it be successful in bringing to the world's attention  these additional innocent victims of the Nazi scourge. They deserve Memorials and being remembered just as much as  the Jewish victims.  Perhaps the world is ready to acknowledge genocide  on a larger scale, and to erect memorials to the Armenians,  Cambodians, Rwandans as well.  May such remembrance serve to shake the world at large into recognizing  its  lack of response in saving these innocent lives, and perhaps preventing any further Genocides in the future.

Other links on Karski of interest include  The meeting with President Roosevelt that I alluded to in my earlier post is chronicled in
It also discusses more thoroughly the wider inaction that led to this unprecedented  tragedy and calamity. I selected below two  quotes that I found of particular interest. The first shows Karski's thoughtful appraisal of President Roosevelt.

"2. In your opinion, what were the factors that caused Roosevelt's administration not to act sooner and do more to save the European Jews?:  Roosevelt was an American president. When Americans vote for president, the vote for him because they believe he will be a good president. He is not a Jewish, or Polish or French president, but an American president. Roosevelt was a great man. He changed history because Americans did not want to enter the war. But America entered the war. Hitler declared war on America. The president had many tasks and he had to be careful that Hitler did not defeat Russia. If Hitler had defeated Russia, the war would have continued for very many years.  Roosevelt had to defeat Hitler and Germany and he did. He saved Russia from defeat. American help to Russia is still underestimated. Large amounts of military equipment were sent. In the winter of 1941-42, America sent 30,000,000 military boots and the Russian soldiers didn't (care) whether they wore two left or two right shoes. Russia did not collapse. The defeat of German was on his shoulders and another war with Japan. He defeated Japan. The United States lost less than half a million GIs. In Poland, one city, Warsaw had greater losses that all of America. After the war, America emerged twice as rich as before the war.  Why didn't he extend more aid? How can I know? I couldn't ask the president, "What do you think about the Jews, what are you going to do." I couldn't. I was just a messenger. "

The second quote looks at these events from a  wider perspective. "4. Richard Breitman recently wrote an article in which he said, "Even successful rescue and relief measures during 1943 would not have greatly curbed the killing of Jews, any more than the successful operations of the War Refugee Board and Jewish organizations did during 1944 and 1945. Given the fierce determination of the Nazis to carry on with the war and the Final Solution, most of the Jews in their control were beyond Allied assistance. It was far easier for Nazi Germany to kill Jews than it was for Britain or the U. S. to rescue them." Do you agree? Why or why not?

It was easy for the Nazis to kill Jews, because they did it. The allies considered it impossible and too costly to rescue the Jews, because they didn't do it. The Jews were abandoned by all governments, church hierarchies and societies, but thousands of Jews survived because thousands of individuals in Poland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland helped to save Jews. Now, every government and church says, "We tried to help the Jews," because they are ashamed, they want to keep their reputations. They didn't help, because six million Jews perished, but those in the government, in the churches they survived. No one did enough.

Young people, like you, should never forget that not all humanity is bad or that it is stupid to live or that you must be careful or they will kill me -- remember that thousands helped -- a half million emerged in Europe. The Nazis had no time to finish them. And when Jews escaped to the Soviet Union, the Soviet government did not discriminate. They were conscripted into the army. And many Jews were fighting in the underground, not as Jews, as nationals of their countries. Most were saved by local populations. In Yad Vashem there are 6,000 names -many Polish names -- at any moment they could have been found out and executed. Still there were such people. The Jews were abandoned by governments."

I think that Jan Karski was a great man indeed. 

Your comments are invited. Read the home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on: Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: December 5, 2004