This exhibition illustrates Jan Karski’s mission of courage during World War II, and his subsequent life and testimony. As an emissary for the Polish Underground state, Jan Karski carried classified information from the Resistance on the ground in occupied Poland to the Polish government-in-exile, first in France and later in England. One of his critical missions was to inform the Allies of the ongoing slaughter of the Jews in occupied Poland. In 1942, in disguise, he twice entered the Warsaw Ghetto and later penetrated a Nazi transit camp to see Jews being herded to their deaths. With these eyewitness accounts, he traveled under an assumed identity to London and later to Washington where, in July 1943, he met for over one hour with President Roosevelt in the White House to inform him about the on-going genocide. Tragically, the Allies chose not to act on his report. After the war, he became a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service where he taught many future leaders. His wartime memoir Story of a Secret State is a captivating account of his courage and integrity in the midst of unspeakable horror.
The World Knew: Jan Karski's Mission for Humanity was organized by the Jan Karski Educational Foundation in partnership with the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Polish History Museum. Additional funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.