Tell them to go to all the important English and American offices and agencies. Tell them not to leave until they have obtained guarantees that a way has been decided upon to save the Jews. Let them accept no food or drink, let them die a slow death as the world is looking on. Let them die. This may shake the conscience of the world.
It is impossible, utterly impossible. You know what would happen. They would simply bring in two policemen and have me dragged away to an institution. Do you think they will let me die a slow, lingering death? Never ... they would never let me.
On May 13, 1943, came the epilogue to our meeting. I will remember that day till I die. I was sitting in my room in Dolphin Square during a brief respite, resting, when the telephone rang. I deliberately let it ring three or four times and then I picked up the receiver reluctantly. It was an employee of Stratton House.
"Mr Karski, I was told to inform you that Szmul Zygelbojm, a member of the Polish National Council and representative of the Bund in London, committed suicide yesterday. He left some notes, saying that he did all he could to help the Jews in Poland, but failed, that all his brothers will perish, and that he is joining them. He turned on the gas in his apartment."
I hung up.
At first I felt nothing at all, then a wave of mingled, shock, grief and guilt. I felt as though I had personally handed Zygelbojm his death warrant.
Having met with the Polish Prime Minister and General Sikorski, with Sir Anthony Eden and with the one time Deputy Leader of Jeremy Corbyn's party, Arthur Greenwood (among many others) Karski was ordered to Washington DC, where he met President Roosevelt. He stayed on in America and went on to have a distinguished career as a professor at Georgetown University. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2012.
I commend his book to you. I put off reading it for some time because of its dark content. That decision meant I was finishing it against the background of the Labour Party's antisemitism scandal. It was particularly poignant and difficult to be reminded of those horrors while listening to Corbyn's mealy-mouthed denials of his obvious sympathies with those who would drive the descendants of Europe's surviving Jews into the sea. It made even more disgusting the statements of the demented, ignorant "Momentum" rabble comparing Israel to Nazi Germany as they court the votes of Britain's Muslims whose ancestors mostly sided with Hitler and whose home countries' schools and madrassas (and some of their Imams here) still teach hatred of Jews.
Poland has much to be proud of in relation to its conduct under German occupation. There was no Polish Quisling or Lord Haw Haw. The Underground ran a secret state in the face of extreme violence. In the end, though the Allies "won" they saved few Jews. They also delivered the brave Poles into the hands of one of only two historical leaders even worse than Adolf Hitler – leaders respected, incidentally, by many in Momentum.
Poles can be particularly proud of Jan Karski, a hero not just to them, but to all decent humans. If Jeremy Corbyn really wanted to solve the anti-semitism problem in his ranks, he might consider requiring every Momentum member to read this book. Somehow I doubt he will.