Jan Karski


Jan Karski Statue - Krakow 2016

Jan Karski was born on April 24, 1914, the youngest of eight children, born in a tenement house at Kilinskiego Street in Lodz, with his real name of Jan Kozielewski. Following the completion of his secondary schooling he went to Lvov in 1931, to study there. He was awarded with a Doctor of Law and Diplomacy title, and he later worked in the Diplomatic Corps, in pre-war Poland and he secured coveted overseas postings in London and Paris.

Just prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland, Jan Kozielewski enlisted in the Polish army and served as a cavalry officer, when first the Germans and then the Soviets invaded Poland during September 1939. He was captured by the Soviet forces and incarcerated in a detention camp. He escaped from the camp and joined the Polish Underground, whilst most of his fellow captives were later executed by the Soviets.

Now using the non de plume Jan Karski he became a skilled courier for the Polish Underground, working with the Allied forces in the West, it was during this period whilst employed on Underground work he was arrested by the Gestapo in Preshov, Slovakia in 1940, and he was brutally tortured. Fearing that he might reveal secrets and betray his fellow Underground colleagues he slashed his own wrists, and was put into a hospital from where he was able to escape, with the help of the Underground.

In the third week of August 1942,