Jan Karski, proper name Jan Kozielewski, was born in Lódz, Poland, in 1914. He has lived in the United States since 1944, and is now a professor of government at Georgetown University. (Those who saw Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoah will remember that during his interview Karski was so overcome with emotion that he had to leave the room to compose himself before returning to continue.)

Before the war he graduated from Jan Kazimierz University in Lwów and began his career in the Polish Foreign Service. In 1939 he was drafted into the army as a second lieutenant in the mounted artillery. Taken prisoner of war by the Soviets, he managed to escape and, after many adventures, returned to Warsaw, where he joined the Polish underground.