The author offers his thoughts and recollections of Jan Karski, the Polish courier best known for reporting on the Holocaust during World War II, based on a lengthy personal acquaintance. He describes Karski as a modest man, uncomfortable with being regarded as a hero and sobered by his wartime experiences as well as several personal misfortunes, his sobriety moderated by a characteristic dry wit. Although widely lionized now, he was not immune to criticism during his lifetime, including from within Polish American circles, and sometimes espoused political or historical positions that departed from the majority attitudes of the Polish diaspora. The author concludes that the enduring significance of his famous wartime mission was to force the world to pay attention to the annihilation of European Jews and to become, in effect, an advocate of justice for any and all stateless or underrepresented peoples.

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