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Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Mar 2012
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Jan Karski's Story of a Secret State stands in the absolute first rank of books about the resistance in World War II. If you wish to read about a man more courageous and honorable than Jan Karski I would have no idea who to recommend. Yes, it's that good. (Alan Furst)
It deserves its status as a Penguin Classic, not only because it is a great historic document, but also because it's a cracking good read: Karski's adventures are worthy of the wildest spy thriller (Nigel Jones Telegraph)
His account of his missions is an electrifying tale of false identities, near captures, spies and secret film capsules ... in human terms, Karski's account is invaluable (Frank Trentmann Daily Express)
Story of a Secret State is now viewed as a classic insider's account of the Resistance in occupied Europe...After all the harrowing descriptions of Holocaust horrors there have been over the years from survivors of Auschwitz, Belsen, and Ravensbruck, Karski's vivid account of what he saw back in 1942 is still deeply moving. We feel his shock and incredulity that this could really be happening in 20th century 'civilised' Europe. (Tony Rennell Daily Mail)
The bravery of the man who risked all to tell the world about the Holocaust is truly staggering ... an extraordinary testament to Man's inhumanity to Man, and the even more remarkable courage required to resist it (Ben McIntyre The Times)
Karski's exploration of the moral fog in which he and his colleagues operated ... made me recall thrillers like Man Hunt and Hangmen Also Die ... two episodes resemble scenes tantalisingly directed by Hitchcock ... Karski's account of the systematic brutality of the Nazi regime is literally chilling (Peter Conrad The Observer)
Reads like the screenplay to an incredibly exciting war movie - but it is all true (Andrew Roberts)
Seared with an urgency that pitches the reader into the heart of the horror (Ben Felsenburg Metro)
His story deserves not just revival but reflection ... Karski's electrifying words still speak only too eloquently for themselves (Marek Kohn Independent)
About the Author
Karski was his nom de guerre; he had been born Jan Kozielewski, the youngest of eight children, in Lodz, Poland's second-largest city, on April 24, 1914. Karski was a liaison officer of the Polish underground, who infiltrated both the Warsaw Ghetto and a German concentration camp and then carried the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to a mostly disbelieving Anthony Eden and Franklin Roosevelt.
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Karski's account finishes rather abruptly with the delivery of his message to the Allies. Being the consummate diplomat, he plays down, or simply does not report, the pitiful responses from the Western leaders to the plight of the Polish people and the Jews in particular. For example, during his 1943 interview in Washington with Justice of the US Supreme Court Frankfurter, himself Jewish, he was told "Mr. Karski, I want to be totally frank. I am unable to believe you. I did not say [you are] lying. I am just unable to believe what [you] told me."
Jan Karski was honoured as a "Righteous among the Nations" at Yad Vashem on 2nd June 1982.
This book sold 400,000 copies in the US alone when published there in 1944. It is remarkable that it has not been published in the UK until now.
A remarkable story, told by a remarkable man.
The story would make a wonderful film and fitting tribute to a great man!
Unimaginable courage. He voluntarily entered the Warsaw ghetto in order to report its fate to the world.
If only the world had listened
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