Holocaust Exhibits Open At UN
by Staś Kmieć
On the occasion of the United Nations 2013 observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, two new exhibits built around the theme Rescue during the Holocaust: The Courage to Care opened on January 22 at the UN Visitors Lobby – 1st Avenue between 45th and 46th St., New York. The exhibit is open to the public through February 18.
The World Knew – Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity was produced by the Polish History Museum in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and the Polish Mission to the UN. The exhibit lays out the captivating background of Polish native Jan Kozielewski, who under the assumed name of Jan Karski served as a courier for the Polish Underground State and informed Allied leaders about Nazi Germany’s ongoing extermination of the Jews. Karski was a Roman Catholic who later attained U.S. citizenship and was named an honorary citizen of Israel and a “Righteous Among the Nations.”
“Millions of people’s lives could have been saved had leaders at the time heeded Karski’s advice. Unfortunately history took a different course,” said The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the United Nations H.E. Mr. Ryszard Sarkowicz. “Karski’s achievements have earned him a place in the pantheon of Polish greats and he is regarded by Poles as one of the country’s undeniable heroes of the 21st century. His story serves as a testament to the power of unbridled loyalty to one’s homeland.”
Presented by The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, Whoever Saves a Single Life … Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust showcases some of those rare but exceedingly important instances where people fought to safeguard their Jewish fellow citizens during the Holocaust.
In photo on right: RIBBON CUTTING – Harvey Schulweis and H.E. Ryszard Sarkowicz
“The Righteous chose a different path – a much more difficult one,” said Harvey Schulweis, Chairman of The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous. “They sought to become involved and in doing so risked their lives and often the lives of their families. For if one were caught hiding a Jew in Eastern Europe, you were killed. Our exhibition provides a snapshot of some of the Righteous.”
Ewa Wierzyńska, Leader of Jan Karski Legacy Program and Head of International Cooperation in the Polish History Museum provided commentary and historical perspective. Ursula Korn Selig, a Jewish Holocaust Survivor gave a moving recount of her plight. Born in Germany, she was saved in Italy by a Catholic priest – Monsignor Schivo, who is featured in the exhibition.
“As I walk through the two exhibitions, I’m struck by their harmony,” remarked H.E. Sarkowicz. “Together they convey just one, but very powerful reminder: when governments and states failed in saving millions, ordinary people with courage, moral integrity, compassion and self-sacrifice acted to save some of them. In this respect, perhaps it’s more accurate to think of these two displays as one exhibition on the power of the individual human spirit.”