SLU to open exhibition on ‘Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity

The exhibition “The World Knew: Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity,” will open at St. Louis University’s Pius XII Memorial Library with a special event at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, in the Second Floor Gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

Special guests at the opening will include guest speaker Bozena McLees, Director of the Jan Karski Educational Foundation; Robert Orgrodnik, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland in St. Louis; and John Kurowski, founder and Managing Attorney of Kurowski Shultz, LLC in Swansea, Ill. and Visiting Professor of Law at the Nicolaus Copernicus School of Law and Administration in Torun, Poland.

The 22-panel educational traveling exhibition, which will be on display through Sunday, Nov. 1, reflects heavily on Karski’s World War II memoir, “Story of a Secret State,” detailing his mission from the Polish Government in Exile.

The tour of The World Knew: Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity traveling exhibition is organized by the Jan Karski Educational Foundation. The exhibition was created by the Polish History Museum with a major support from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is co-sponsored by the Rubin and Gloria Feldman Education Institute of the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, a department of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, the Center for Intercultural Studies at St. Louis University and Saint Louis Polonia, Inc.

Karski was part of the Polish resistance movement during World War II. In 1942 and 1943 Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and the Western Allies on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the German-Nazi extermination camps. 

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In 1982, Yad Vashem recognized Karski as Righteous Among the Nations. A tree bearing a memorial plaque in his name was planted that same year at Yad Vashem’s Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations in Jerusalem.

 In subsequent years, many significant honors were bestowed on him: the Anti-Defamation League Courage to Care Award (1988, which in 2012 was renamed the Jan Karski Courage to Care Award); Pius XI Award (1990); the Eisenhower Liberation Medal (1991); the Wallenberg Medal (1991); and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012) conferred by President Barack Obama.

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