Scope and Content Note
Title: Jan Karski papers
Date (inclusive): 1939-2007
Collection number: 46033
Karski, Jan, 1914-2000
20 manuscript boxes, 10 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder, 6 card file boxes, 24 photo envelopes, and 26 microfilm reels
(20.2 linear feet)
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: Correspondence, memoranda, government documents, bulletins, reports, studies, speeches and writings, printed matter, photographs,
clippings, newspapers, periodicals, sound and video recordings, and microfilm, relating to events and conditions in Poland
during World War II, the German and Soviet occupations of Poland, treatment of the Jews in Poland during the German occupation,
and operations of the Polish underground movement during World War II.
Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
The collection is open for research; materials must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
[Identification of item], Jan Karski papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.
Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives from 1946 to 2008.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find
the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at
. Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the library catalog is larger than the number
of boxes listed in this finding aid.
Alternative Forms of Material Available
Collection is available on microfilm.
|1914 June 24
||Born Jan Kozielewski in Lodz
||Law student at University of Lwow
||Recruited into the Polish diplomatic service
||Mobilized, September campaign - escapes Soviet imprisonment
||First mission to the West, France
||Second mission - Failed
||Smuggled into Warsaw ghetto and a concentration camp
to prepare a report on Nazi war crimes
||Reports on his mission to representatives of
governments of Poland and Great Britain
||Reports about situation in Poland to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other U.S. officials
Story of a Secret State
||Receives PhD from Georgetown University
||Enrolls at School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
||Naturalized as American citizen. Works for United States Information Service
||Marries Pola Nirenska
||Retires from Georgetown University
The Great Powers and Poland
||Made honorary citizen of Israel
|2000 July 13
||Dies in Washington D.C.
Scope and Content Note
Jan Karski, 1914-2000, born Jan Kozielewski, was a Polish liaison officer working for the Polish underground during World
War II. He carried the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to a generally unbelieving West.
The process of the deposition of his papers at Hoover began in 1946 and lasted for over sixty years. Herbert Hoover, who was
aware of Karski's excellent connections within diplomatic circles, enlisted him in 1945 to collect documents of the Polish
Government in Exile, which by that time had lost recognition of all western powers who accepted the Soviet-imposed government.
Karski went on a trip around the world to urge the former government members to send all available documents to Stanford and
deposit them at the Hoover Archives.
Karski's papers document two main areas of activity: 1) Collecting activities on behalf of the Hoover Library, and 2) Missions
to the Government in Exile during World War II
Karski went on his last top-secret mission across the German territory in 1942 carrying a small suitcase and a microfilm of
hundreds of documents. Most of what he conveyed to his superiors in London depended on his amazing ability to memorize dozens
of pages and hundreds of names. After he reached his destination safely they were written down. Karski wasn't given access
to the documents concerning the publicity surrounding his meetings with influential politicians, journalists or activists
until they were opened decades after the war. In the 1980s he visited archival institutions in Europe, Israel and the United
States to obtain such copies and incorporate some of their content into this collection. During his trips to Stanford he was
presented with documents produced by the Polish government, the agencies he either worked for or was loosely associated with
(see list in Related Collections).
In the Hoover collection of Karski's papers the best sources of information on his mission and its aftermath are twenty volumes
of scrapbooks. Karski decided to create them in the mid-1980s. His visitors were given the opportunity to come into contact
with documents illustrating his biography. It was the donor's wish to keep them in the same order. A visual file, containing
audio and video tapes with interviews and documentaries supplements the information in scrapbooks.
Besides a few photographs, very little in Karski's papers concerns his personal life. Later demand for information about his
family's background compelled him to reproduce photos depicting his relatives before World War II.
This finding aid was created in 2008 when all of materials Hoover Institution expected to receive were delivered. A register
existing before 2008 described the content of the first nine boxes. Since these boxes had been microfilmed the decision was
made to keep materials in the same order and not incorporate them into the later acquisitions. Cross references have been
provided in the container list.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the repository's online public access catalog.
Sikorski, Władysław, 1881-1943.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
World War, 1939-1945.
World War, 1939-1945--Jews.
World War, 1939-1945--Poland.
World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements.
Genres and Forms of Material
Poland. Ambasada (Great Britain) Records, Hoover Institution Archives
Poland. Ambasada (U.S.) Records, Hoover Institution Archives
Poland. Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych Records, Hoover Institution Archives
Stanislaw Mikolajczyk papers, Hoover Institution Archives