Defining the word hero is difficult. The dictionary states that a hero is any person admired for courage, nobility, or exploits, especially in war. For most people, the definition of hero is left to interpretation. Some people believe a hero is an exceptional athlete, but others think it is the local cop that made the news for a job well done. It is all up to the individual who is defining what a hero is. Jan Karski is a hero for several reasons; he proved to be courageous, demonstrated his intelligence, and he lived to tell his story. It is often said that Karski tried to stop the war himself and failed (O'Keefe). His attempt to stop the war did fail but his voice was heard. Through his efforts, other countries became more involved and they opened their eyes to what was going on. Though he did fail, he played an important role which helped end the war.
Jan Karski was born in 1914, in Lodz Poland (Block 170). He was the youngest of eight children. Karski's father died when he was young and never knowing his father left him unable to love him. On the other had, he had great respect for his mother, he loved her (Block 170). Through school he was a good student. His strong subjects were history, poetry and literature. According to Karski, "Jews were always strong in science," and throughout his school years, he was great friends with a group of Jewish boys. This group of young men, including Karski would help each other with their studies. Karski finished school in 1931, his mother did not want him to go into the military so he went to college instead. He majored in law an diplomatic science and received his master's degree in 1935 (Block 170). After graduating from the university, Karski began working for the League of Nations and in 1939, he became the secretary of the Department of Immigration, and he became the private secretary of the director of personnel in the Foreign Ministry. As the war became more of a threat, Karski took on new roles.
Karski started in the military when the Nazis invaded Poland. After the military he serviced as a propagandist and Polish spy during the war. He later fell into the role of courier for the Polish Underground. Here, his courage became obvious. Karski, who had been a practicing Catholic, converted to the Jewish religion. He stated: "Like the family of my wife—all of them perished in the ghettos, in the concentration camps, in the gas chambers—so all murdered Jews became my family" (Wood). Though Karski witnessed some of the most horrific acts in history, he managed to stand up for himself and for the millions of other people who died in vain during the holocaust. The victims of the Holocaust died in vain because at the time millions of people were being secretly murdered. Upon observation, Karski realized that the government and...