The film Karski and the Lords of Humanity was screened outside Poland for the first time on June 14 at Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center. The event was sponsored by the Polish Institute in Tel-Aviv and the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which operates under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress. More than 300 guests, including Poland’s Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna and the WJC leadership, which was holding a meeting of its Steering Committee in the Israeli capital that week, attended the screening.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder told them, “Just as Jan Karski sought to draw attention to the horrifying plight of the Jews in German-occupied Poland, so do I now feel compelled to highlight the precarious situation of our Christian brothers and sisters. Karski is my hero because he spoke up when most people remained silent. We Jews know what happens when the world is silent.”
Lauder said that “there could be no more fitting way to mark the 25th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Israel and Poland.”
Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said, “This is a must-see film for government officials in every country because passivity can lead to horror.”
The film’s director, Sławomir Grünberg, was present for the screening, as were the producers. Grünberg noted, “Karski’s dream was to become a diplomat. That dream was dashed by the war. Today, however, through this film, his message of compassion in diplomacy is being spread and his dream has, in effect, come true.”
Jan Karski (1914–2001), the heroic courier of the Polish underground state, was an eyewitness to the destruction of Polish Jewry and was among the first to personally bring detailed information to the attention of Anglo-American leaders, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He wrote one of the first books about Nazi atrocities, and after the war he taught two generations of students at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.