Durbin, Kirk Sponsor Resolution for "Jan Karski Day"

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) today introduced a resolution that would designate April 24, 2014, as “Jan Karski Day” to honor the legacy of the member of the Polish underground resistance against Nazi occupation during World War II who was among the first to provide eyewitness accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust. 


“I was lucky enough to study under Professor Jan Karski as a student at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service,” Durbin said.  “He was an inspiring man who touched the lives of many people and his spirit and compassion was displayed countless times both in Poland and the United States.”


“Countless men and women owe their thanks to Jan Karksi's bravery during World War II, and it's important for us to remember his fearless dedication while exposing the horrors and injustices of the Holocaust,” Senator Kirk said. “More than 1 million citizens of Polish descent currently reside in Chicago, and it is important to continue to honor Karski's legacy and the rich history he shared with our nation.”


In today's resolution, the Senate “recognizes the life and legacy of Dr. Jan Karski and expresses its gratitude for his efforts alerting the free world about the atrocities committed by Nazi and totalitarian forces in occupied Poland during World War II.”  The resolution also “applauds the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski for his efforts during World War II and reaffirms the importance of the United States-Polish bilateral relationship.”


Karski was born on April 24, 1914, in Lodz, Poland.  He escaped the Soviet massacre in the Katyn forest in 1940 that killed almost 22,000 Polish citizens.  Karski later escaped a prisoner of war camp and provided critical information to the Allies about the Holocaust.  After the war, Karski—who became an American citizen—earned a Ph.D. from Georgetown University in 1952 and taught at the school for 40 years before his passing in 2000.  President Obama posthumously awarded Karski the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 for his efforts during World War II.