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People Hear Karski Now

 Bayside High School Social Studies teacher, James R. Prosser, Jr. with his students (Photo: Courtesy of James R. Prosser, Jr.) Bayside High School Social Studies teacher, James R. Prosser, Jr. with his students (Photo: Courtesy of James R. Prosser, Jr.)

Students at the Bayside High School in Palm Bay, FL, have read the award-winning graphic novel Karski’s Mission: To Stop the Holocaust based on the true story of Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic and member of the Polish Underground, whose courage and determination to inform the world about the ongoing killings of the Jews during World War II uplifts us and gives us hope and inspiration. Prompted by the questions, “Why was reading Karski’s Mission: To Stop the Holocaust in class important to you?” and “Was Karski a hero?” given by their Social Studies teacher, James R. Prosser, Jr., students shared their reflections.


“It shed light on the heroic efforts of Jan Karski to bring attention to the atrocities of the Holocaust during World War II. His bravery and determination to share the truth with the world are truly inspiring. It is crucial to remember and learn from history so that we can work towards creating a better future. This is a powerful and impactful book that highlights the extraordinary efforts of Jan Karski during World War II. Karski was a Polish resistance fighter who risked his life to gather evidence of the Holocaust and to end the atrocities. The book provides a detailed account of Karski’s dangerous missions, his encounters with victims and perpetrators, and his desperate attempts to convince world leaders to take action. Through vivid storytelling and firsthand accounts, the book emphasizes the moral responsibility we have and serves as a reminder of the importance of standing up against injustice and the power of individual actions to make a difference. This book was significant because it not only educates about the Holocaust but also inspires students to be courageous and compassionate in the face of adversity.”

“It showed that people cared and kept trying to get help; it shows the resilience of these people. It’s also important to me because it shows the reality that people hear but will not help fix these problems, [even] knowing there are millions of people being murdered. It shows the importance of taking action and acting on what you believe in. Jan Karski was a very brave individual who risked his life many times to get the truth out and try to save his country. He is a hero—not many people would go through so much and have that much determination to keep going even after all the rejections. His resilience, when it seemed like the world was against him and his family, is inspiring at the very least. Reading this is an inspiration to do what you know is right and not follow the crowd, to not be a follower and fight for that change that is needed. Even if no one at the time seemed to hear him, people hear and see him and his accomplishments now, and it should be motivation for people to take action when it is clearly needed and not only care for themselves. Hopefully people will be inspired by his selflessness, and have that characteristic themselves and fight for others.”

“It showed me the importance of carrying on history and things we, as a society, go through. Jan Karski was there for it all, even if he wasn’t a Jewish follower and didn’t have to help at all, but he did. His only mission was to stop the violence and killings of innocent people, which he tried to do, but no one listened to him, not even ‘The most powerful man in the world.’ After reading this comic book, I felt disappointed in what our society has become; imagine if President Roosevelt decided to take action and tried to stop the Nazis’ horrible acts. How different would our lives be right now? Would our nations be in peace together? These things we will never know. However, I do know that Karski did everything he could, and he chose to do the right thing, and for that, I consider him the biggest hero of all.”

“It showed the true effect the Holocaust had on the surrounding areas. Not only did the Jews, along with all the other people, persecuted get their world brought down, but so did the innocents. Karski was a Polish Catholic. He had no further reason to get involved. His faith in just being a good person shows how humane he was. It also allows the reader to grasp that there were various bystanders in the Holocaust. There were not only victims and perpetrators but watchers. Jan gave a true effort. Even if he had blamed himself for not stopping the Holocaust, he gave all he could. He risked his life in a position he never had to be in. Despite being constantly imprisoned and beaten, he kept pushing through. He had brought it up to various world leaders just to have a shot. His persistence is what everyone can take from it. He never thought he had saved anyone but educated as many as he could.”

“It showed me just how bad the Nazis were treating the Jews and how Karski didn’t have to stand up for the Jews, but he did anyway. When the graphic novel said that Karski managed to escape from a death camp that had many gassing chambers that would kill about 10,000 Jews a day, it really surprised me. I didn’t believe he would be able to sneak into the death camp and back out… how he started to work under the [Polish Underground] and risked his life to try and protect the Jews was just amazing. Karski was also providing fake passports/IDs for some of the Jews…to try and protect them and hopefully keep them from being taken to a death camp and being killed. He also managed to see the current president, Franklin Roosevelt who didn’t seem to try to help at all...”

“It explains the point of view of someone who tried to stop the Holocaust. Most people during the time did not speak out or try to stop the Holocaust. Karski went through so much to try to stop it and get others to stop the Holocaust. Without Karski, I believe the war might have gone very differently. Hearing the story of an eyewitness and the emotions that he had inside of him was difficult but, in a way, empowering. It shows that even through terrible times and seeing things that are extremely traumatizing, he was still able to try to help and stand up for what was right.”

“It helped me understand better just how bad certain situations were, and how hard people tried to advocate for the Jews. Jan Karski did absolutely everything he could to help. I believe Jan is a hero because he did help certain people and never stopped trying to help them. He spread information to the Allies and even had a sit-down talk with the British government, but only a few newspapers took it seriously. This caused a shortage in the number of people that the information reached which is why Jan Karski believed he had failed and was not a hero. [He did not end] the Holocaust, but without the information Jan and others spread, the Allies would have been in the dark for even longer than they were.”

“It gave a visual backstory leading up to Karski’s mission and gave insight to how Jan grew up, his childhood, and … how cruel the Nazi Germany Army was, as shown on the first page of the book with [German soldiers] shooting at [Karski] as a war prisoner.”

“It allows me to connect with the experiences of individuals during the Holocaust on a deeper level and understand the experiences of individuals during the Holocaust. The use of visuals and illustrations can help us comprehend complex historical events and concepts more easily. Overall, the graphic novel adds depth, engagement, and empathy to my learning experience.”

“It showed how Karshi made an effort to save Jews and risked his life for people he didn’t know. I think he is a hero because he made multiple attempts to get information about the Nazis that would help save the Jews.”

“It taught me about a man who had risked his life and limb for a cause he really had no reason to fight for. However, he is a man to honor and remember. Karski, a Catholic man who had gone all around Europe and to America to speak with diplomats about what was happening in [German-occupied Poland] and spread the message of what was happening. Unfortunately, he was overlooked all too often. It sickens me that it seemed no one had cared until it was too late…I do, in my own way, see Karski as a hero. He did not have to do the things he did, but he did them because it was the right thing to do, and I think that is what a hero truly does. He gave a voice to the voiceless in the concentration and death camps, exposing the Hitler youth for being the heartless evil that they were, and it sickens me that they would commit what are now war crimes so carelessly. To conclude, Karski was a man to remember for his bravery and action on intelligence…”

“It taught me about a spy who was sent on missions to gather intel from several different countries to provide to people so they’d know what the Nazis were doing with the Jews. Karski is a hero because of his actions of bravery and his relentlessness in his mission. Even in the end, when the president didn’t listen to him, Karski still did his work. He appeared in a documentary about him and what he saw. Without Karski’s effort, there may not have been anyone else to do what had done.”

“It showed me untold details about the Holocaust. When learning about the Holocaust as children, we were given surface-level definitions and explanations about it. However, we are rarely ever taught about what happens behind the scenes. Knowing that there were people actively trying to stop and prevent the persecution of millions of Jews is very important. It allows us to realize that people fought back against these actions and put their lives on the line for people they did not even know. Karski’s story is especially important because it shows Karski, a Catholic, going to impossible lengths to spread the word about what was happening. Even though his words were not taken seriously by the president or judicial leaders, his experience has an important moral. It can encourage others to stand up against injustice and not to perpetuate it themselves. Knowing that Karski was not even a Jew gives an even more admirable notion to this story.”

The texts have been slightly edited for accuracy and clarity.

A free set of the graphic novel about Karski was presented to the Bayside High School at the annual Florida Council for the Social Studies Conference in October 2023 after Mr. Prosser was inspired by the story of the Polish emissary at the Foundation’s presentation. The Jan Karski Educational Foundation is grateful to the teacher for his advocacy and to his students for their insightful observations.

To read more about the graphic novel Karski’s Mission: To Stop the Holocaust and to order it at an educator’s rate, please see our website.