Jan Karski awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Jan Karski stands before a wall map of the Warsaw Ghetto at the United States Ho
Image credit: 
E. Thomas Wood
Jan Karski stands before a wall map of the Warsaw Ghetto at the United States Ho
Image credit: 
E. Thomas Wood

On May 29, 2012, at a White House ceremony, Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic liaison officer working for the Polish underground during World War II, was awarded (posthumously) a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his courage and sacrifice and for taking action when, as President Obama said, “so many others stood silent.”

Karski witnessed the atrocities of the Holocaust as the Nazis deported hundreds of thousands of Jews to gas chambers at the Treblinka concentration camp in 1942. He saw corpses piled on top of each other, starving children wearing nothing but rags, and Hitler Youth on a “Jew Hunt,” shooting people at random. “Having seen hell on earth, Karski now was determined to alert the world to what he had witnessed,” stated Rafael Medoff in his Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) article titled “Jan Karski, from Hell on Earth to Recipient of US Presidential Honor.” The JTA is a source for American Jewish community news and opinion.

Click here to read the full article.

Click here for more information about the Jan Karski papers in the Hoover Archives.