I graduated from Georgetown in 1982. While I was there, I was privileged to have Jan Karski as a professor for several of my courses. As a professor, he made every class he taught somehow personal and alive (and he could be quite demanding in his expectations of his students), but as a human being who bore witness to inexplicable horror, his strength and courage were inspirational. He was a rock, yet also a sensitive and gentle soul, and I can remember sitting in his classes struck by something fragile and touching about him. He was one of those professors who touches your life in a way that you never quite forget.
Dr. Karski was one of my favorite professors at Georgetown between 1976-1979. He was a very humble man who, at least during our class, never shared his personal role in promoting the awareness of the Holocaust. I wish he had; yet without the knowledge that he was a true hero to all humanity, he was still one of my favorites and most memorable professors.
I believe I first heard of Mr. Karski on NPR's show All Things Considered. It was his obituary in 2000. I was fascinated by his story and wondered how it was that I had never heard of him before that time. I decided I would learn more but ended up forgetting about his story. Fast forward to 2012, I was living in Poland, and remembered the day I heard the radio show but I could not remember a name. I dug around online and eventually found Jan Karski and promptly picked up a copy of Story of a Secret State. I was excited to read the book but somehow it ended up lost on my bookshelf. That is, until my wife bumped into Wanda Urbanska at a bed and breakfast in Warsaw. I have now dusted off my copy and will soon start reading. Thank you Wanda for reminding us of his story!
Hello: I was a student in Jan Karski's SFS course "Modern Foreign Governments" in 1962-63. I got to know him well(in 1969-70 I was the one who convinced him to apply to join the then brand-new SFS core faculty). For about four years the two of us ate a meal together three or four nights a week in Sugars Campus Store. I have a host of wonderful memories. He was for over 35 years a loyal and active member of Delta Phi Epsilon Foreign Service Fraternity at GU (one of his last, if not his last, public appearances was a speech he gave at the Fraternity's annual Founders' Day Banquet). When I was in the US Army in Viet-Nam in 1966 he corresponded with me, an incredible boost to my morale. I have posted on my web site some of what he wrote me: http://www.deltaphiepsilon.net/Karski.html
I have two stories. The first, in my Junior year at Georgetown University Foreign Service School, 1961. Along with about 20 other students, I was in Dr. Karski's Comparative Government class. Someone asked him a question, something about Poland and WWII. Slowly he began to recount his experience, which led into his witnessing the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto. He went on for maybe 10-15 minutes and spoke of the other atrocities he saw. He seemed almost to be transported back to that scene when he was there for the underground, 20 years earlier. After he finished, the class was dead quiet. The only sound was that of people breathing. As we walked out of the class, a fellow student turned to me and said: "Do you think that's really true?" I said: "How could you make up something like that?" The second story is much happier. It was August 1, 1979. My wife and I had just gotten married that morning. We were on our way to a celebration lunch at Nathans Restaurant, Wisconsin Ave & M St, just the two of us. As we walked down 33rd St. in Georgetown, from the other direction, came Dr.Karski, looking elegant in his gray, double-breasted suit. I hadn't seen him for 17 years. I reintroduced myself as one of his former students. I introduced my new wife, Beverly, a Polish-American, and told Dr. Karski that we had just gotten married. He tightly grasped our hands together and in that lovely accented English of his, he wished us the best in our married life together. That benediction couldn't have been better if it had come from the Pope himself. I never spoke with him again. But Bev and I are still married, 33 years later.
Karski's book was on one of many bookshelves in our home since my mother bought it in 1944, but I have to admit I had never read it. I only started reading the book a few weeks ago and I couldn't put it down. I was amazed at the bravery and resolve of Jan Karski and equally amazed that I had never heard of him. I am so happy to hear that your organization has brought his words and thoughts to the attention of today's generation. We should never forget what he observed and reported.
He was my International Comparative Government Professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. A tall, elegant, dapper, and gently spoken man. Always with a personal story to make real a lesson in government. Everyone looked forward to his class. His lectures were more of an individual conversation. This was about 1970 to 1971.
It's long overdue that Jan Karski receive this honor!!! A true hero in the full sense of the word of the great nation of Poland!!! A great friend & ally of the Jewish people & a great American & humanitarian!!!!
I knew professor Karski and his spouse for several years in Bethesda, Maryland , where they lived. Of course, I sorely miss them both, yet I still cherish in my memory the many hours of extraordinary conversations we had. Professor Karski generously autographed four copies of his book "The Story of a Secret State, "which had been on the best seller book list when published in December 1944. Three of the copies , he inscribed as "Best wishes, Jan Karski , 1989, whereas the one book which still had its original cover, he inscribed as " To Fred A. Kahn, in gratitude for his interest in my work, Jan Karski, 1989." Naturally. I am gratified that posthumously this Tuesday Jan Karski will be officially recognized by the President of the United States with the Freedom Medal. I am a Holocaust survivor who manages the Yahoo! worldwide group Remember_The_Holocaust. I also am known as the pioneer of the US presidential debates which I suggested in 1956. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-kelly/the-american-spirit-perso_b_268138.html
I was a student of Dr. Karski's in the mid-1960s. His "Theory and Practice of Communism" was one of the best courses I took at Georgetown. I can still recall him: ramrod straight at the head of the class, exuding a quiet authority without the slightest effort, lecturing flawlessly with scarcely a glance at notes. He never mentioned his wartime service but somehow I stumbled across a new paperback edition of his book and brought it up after class to get him sign it. He took one look at the cover, a slightly lurid one of a damsel in distress, and commented how annoyed he was that the publishers would cheapen the story. Nevertheless, he gladly inscribed it. I only with that I knew then just how great he was.