A Failed Mission? Jan Karski’s Efforts to Stop the Holocaust as Seen Today

  • Helena Duffy (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


A Failed Mission? Jan Karski’s Efforts to Stop the Holocaust as Seen Today
Born in 1914 in the city of Lodz in Poland, Jan Karski trained as a diplomat, yet his budding career was brutally interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Having escaped from Soviet captivity, Karski joined the resistance movement. Thanks to his diplomatic background, photographic memory and excellent knowledge of several European languages, he soon became one of couriers ensuring communication between the underground forces and the Polish government-in-exile in London. Between 1942 and 1944 Karski travelled to England and the United States where he championed Polish post-war independence from Stalin and rallied the Western Allies to the Jewish cause. Since Poland did not escape sovietisation and Jews continued to be mass murdered in Nazi-run concentration and extermination camps right until the end of the war, it can be easily argued that Karski’s diplomatic missions made little difference, if any at all. Why does the figure of the Polish resister therefore continue to arouse the interest of writers and filmmakers, as exemplified by the recent proliferation of biographical works and cultural representations of his wartime heroics? In her talk, Dr Helena Duffy will discuss Jan Karski’s life and career, and comment upon some of the more problematic depictions of his diplomatic efforts.
Period30 Jan 2018
Held atBattersea Library


  • Jan Karski
  • Holocaust