Audio Interview with Jan Karski

Interview with Jan Karski

Picture of Jan Karski

Interview with Jan Karski

You can find Jan Karski’s book and excerpts here at the Cybrary.

Thanks to Paul Costantine for digitizing the audio for online use.

The audio files are available below. You will need RealAudio’s Player to listen to them. Go to the Listening Room if you need more information on RealAudio. Thanks.

Warning: a 50K file takes about 30 seconds to download on a 14.4 modem.

Unable to Believe (91K file, 1 minute 30 seconds duration)

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“I got a bitter lesson, a bitter lesson in Washington. I met Justice Frankfurter. (Felix Frankfurter, Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?) Yes. In the presence of the Polish ambassador, he was not interested in the Polish underground movement or in anything else. He only asked me, ‘Please tell me what is happening to the Jews in your country. There are conflicting reports.’ So to him I told, in 18-20 minutes, what I saw. Twice in the Warsaw ghetto, once in the concentration camp — Wood established that it was Izbica, the name of that concentration camp. I described what I saw. Then afterward, he got up, (and) started to walk in front of me and the ambassador. And then took his seat and said, ‘Mr. Karski.’ I remember every word. You don’t forget these kinds of incidents. ‘Mr. Karski, a man like me, talking to a man like you, must be totally frank. So I say: I am unable to believe what you told me.’

“So the Polish ambassador, they were friends, jumped in and said, ‘Felix, you don’t mean it! You cannot tell him to his face that he’s lying!’

“And Frankfurter said, ‘Mr. Ambassador, I did not say that this young man is lying. I said I am unable to believe what he told me.'”

Unprecedented in Human History (40K file, 35 seconds duration)

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“The Jewish experience was unique in history. Such a thing never happened in history. There were pogroms, persecution, discrimination, but not scientific extinction of an entire nation, physical extinction. And as I look now at my activities of 50 years ago, it was difficult to believe for many people. Because it was so unprecedented in human history.”

Danger in Expressing the Reality of the Holocaust (40K file, 30 seconds duration)

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“It is difficult to express in arts the reality of the Holocaust. There is even a danger in it. Spielberg — humanity’s lucky with him, he made a great film. But others may now follow his example and will make kitsches, will make bad films. But so far, for me, the greatest film made on the Holocaust was Lanzmann’s Shoah.”

Today There Is Israel (40k file, 30 seconds duration)

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“And some students ask me, Professor Karski, is another Holocaust possible? And I always answer no, impossible. Is it because humanity changed? No, humanity did not change. We know what happens now in Bosnia or Somalia or Ethiopia. Holocaust is impossible…why? Because today there is Israel.”

Copyright 1996. All rights reserved. This material may not be reprinted or reproduced in any form without written permission.