Next to the Remuh Synagogue you'll see a space set aside to the memory and legacy of Jan Karski - a member of the Polish underground army, known to the history books as the "man who tried to stop the Holocaust." During World War II, Karski smuggled himself into the Warsaw Ghetto and Nazi concentration camps with the express intent of witnessing and recording the horror being perpetrated against the Jews, in order to report it to the West. In 1942 he successfully escaped the European continent to meet with the London-based Polish government-in-exile, as well as the Allied leaders, including UK Foreign Secretary Antony Eden and US President Franklin Roosevelt. One of the first to present credible evidence of the extermination of European Jews by the Third Reich, unfortunately Karski's report largely fell on deaf ears. In 1944 he published a memoir of his mission titled My Report to the World: The Story of a Secret State, which was a wartime bestseller. He lived out his life in the US, teaching at Georgetown University for 40 years, and was awarded numerous honours including the Order of the White Eagle (PL), the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari (PL), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (US), and is recognised by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.
The monument in Kraków was installed in 2016 and takes the form of a bench, emulating similar Karski benches in Łódź, Warsaw, Kielce and Tel Aviv. To learn more of Jan Karski's story, read our full-length feature here.