Ever wondered who the man was behind the pensive, chess-playing statue in front of White Gravenor?
Yesterday, President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to this war hero, the late Jan Karski, a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter who later became a professor at Georgetown University. The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. Karski died in 2000 and spent 40 years as a Georgetown professor.
During the early 1940s, Karski reported to the Polish government-in-exile, the American, and British allies on the atrocities committed in German-occupied Poland. ”Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, it being one of the first accounts of the Holocaust, imploring the world to take action. It was decades before Jan was ready to tell his story, and by then he said, ‘I don’t need courage anymore, so I teach with passion,’” Obama said during the awards ceremony.
Karski was a part of ZWZ, Union of Armed Struggle, which was an underground army formed in Poland to resist German occupation. ”When Karski told Jewish Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter what was happening, Frankfurter replied, ‘I do not believe you.’ Winston Churchill refused to meet with Karski to discuss saving the Jews. Had the allies acted when Karski spoke up, millions could have been saved,” the Huffington Post writes about Karski.