Jan Karski (1914 — 2000) was a Polish soldier, resistance-fighter, and diplomat during World War II. He is known for having acted as a courier in 1940–43 to the Polish Government-in-Exile and to Poland’s Western Allies about the situation in German-occupied Poland. He was reporting about the state of Poland, in which there were many competing factions in the resistance, and also about Germany’s destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and its operation of extermination camps on Polish soil that were murdering Jews, Poles, and others.
After emigration to the United States after the war, Karski completed a doctorate and taught for decades at Georgetown University in international relations and Polish history. He lived in Washington, D.C., to the end of his life. He did not speak publicly about his mission during the war until 1981, when he was invited as a speaker to a conference on the liberation of the camps.
In 1982, Karski was made an honorary citizen of the State of Israel and a tree was planted bearing his name at Yad Vashem’s Valley of the Righteous Among the Nations.