Students of the Maine West High School in Des Plaines, IL, read the graphic novel Karski’s Mission: To Stop the Holocaust in their European Studies and History classes and were inspired by the story of the Polish emissary. They also read Elie Wiesel’s Night in their English literature class. According to their teacher, Diane Littlefield Lanham, the two texts together gave them a fuller understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust, but also how ordinary people refused to be bystanders and instead, risked their own lives in order to help others survive. Ms. Lanham set up a Socratic Seminar in class, in which students had prepared notes in response to her questions, and raised questions of their own, which led to a stimulating discussion. Students considered ways in which they could become “heroes” in their own world, standing up to injustices in their society. Students enjoyed the graphic novel format and found Jan Karski’s story to be inspiring. The Jan Karski Educational Foundation’s website provided them with lots of additional information about Karski, the Polish Underground, and the situation in occupied Poland during World War II.
Ms. Lanham, who has contributed to this report, called the graphic novel a “meaningful and interesting resource” and says she will definitely use the book in her classes next school year.
Please click here for more information on the graphic novel about Karski.