Item description for Story of a Secret State by Jan Karski...
In Nazi-occupied Poland, schools, courts and newspapers were operated by the Polish Underground secretly, right under the nose of the Gestapo. The author who was liaison officer between the underground and the exiled Polish government in London, wrote this amazing report right after the liberation.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 6.26" Height: 0.98" Weight: 1.31 lbs.
Publisher Simon Publications
ISBN 1931541396 ISBN13 9781931541398
Reviews - What do customers think about Story of a Secret State?
was this ghost written? Sep 21, 2008
while this is clearly based on true experience, it is hard to believe that such a professional account was written by jan karski himself. marvelous as it is, it is also a piece of propaganda for the polish government in exile. is there any information out there about a possible ghost writer or 'collaborator'?
Karski's Historic Trip: A Polish Underground Operation Jun 20, 2006
Jan Karski's trip to England and the US, which warned the Allies of the Holocaust in progress, is well known. However, Karski is often incorrectly thought of as some sort of unusual moral giant who tried to save the Jews all on his own. In fact, as this book makes clear, his heroic trip was planned, ordered, and performed in the context of his active, multifaceted involvement in the Polish Underground. For example, Karski's visit to the Belzec death camp was facilitated by a rendezvous on the nearby property of a Polish farmer who was also a member of the Underground (p. 340).
Karski was involved in the defense of Poland from the first hours of WWII. A few authors (e. g. Alfred-Maurice de Zayas) have tried to deny the existence of a German fifth column during the German-Soviet conquest of Poland (September-October 1939). In actuality, Karski's very unit came under fire from members of this fifth column (p. 8). The attackers were Polish citizens of German descent.
Karski ended up in Soviet and then German captivity. He repeatedly writes of the unbelievable barbarity of both conquerors. While in a Gestapo prison, Karski slashed his wrists in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. He had feared that he might break down under the incessant torture and betray his confidants in the Polish Underground. Karski was freed by a daring commando attack by the Underground combined with a well-placed bribe of a German guard.
Karski elaborates on the forced Germanization of Poznan (pp. 78-82), something attempted unsuccessfully before under Frederick the Great and then Bismarck. The Poles were brutally expelled. Very few of the remaining Poles chose to register as Germans and thus become Volksdeutsche.
Karski (p. 132) succinctly summarizes the attitude of almost all full-blooded Poles to the Nazis: "The German occupation was never recognized by the Polish people, and there could be no doubt on this score because, in Poland alone of all the occupied countries, there never appeared anything resembling a legal or pseudo-legal body composed of Poles and collaborating with the Germans. Indeed, in all of Poland, not a single political office in the German-controlled administration was ever held by a Pole; not a single head of any province was Polish".
Jan Thomas Gross has insinuated that Poles had no Quisling because the Germans did not want any Polish Quisling. Jan Karski's personal experience with the Germans adds to the refutation to Gross' silly claim. While a captive of the dreaded Gestapo, Karski was personally approached by a high-ranking SS man (pp. 155-163) who tried to induce him to become a Polish Quisling. The SS-man promised him relief from torture, and then appealed to the hopelessness of the Polish cause and the certainty of German victory in the wake of the fall of France and the seemingly-incipient peace treaty with England. The SS-man also cited the sensibleness of all the other nations that had formed collaborationist governments under German rule and said that Poles should also, for once, come to their senses and do the same. Karski refused.
Karski visited Nazi Germany itself. He reports (p. 217) never encountering any sign of German opposition to the Nazi rule. (Of course, some developed later as Germany began to lose one battle after another, and the attempt was made to assassinate Hitler in order to save Germany's skin from increasingly certain defeat).
A certain amount of detail is given to Karski's visits with British and American leaders. It is a shame that Roosevelt made such supportive statements about Poland while, behind Karski's back, he was already selling out the Poles to the Soviet Union.
Riveting True Story May 31, 2006
In Story of a Secret State, Jan Karski recounts his work with the Polish Underground during WWII. The book was fascinating overall, though I found a few short sections to be overly detailed and a bit dry. Impressively, Jan speaks of his own heroic actions without sounding boastful. I especially enjoyed the his depiction of all the brave people who helped him carry out his work. Karski's account of his visits to the Warsaw ghetto and the death camp surely benefitted from his precise description, making the events horrifically real. I highly recommend this book to all.
Polish History Classic Jun 17, 2002
This book belongs on everybody's short list of Polish and East European history. Jan Karski was a truly heroic man and is story is told in plain, straightforward langauge as the story of one man who took enormous risks to tell the story of the Holocaust. A necessary corrective to much of the polemic on the complex issue of Poles and the Nazi occupation. Not to be missed. This is the second anniversary of his death here in Washington.
An amazing, true story that reads like a gripping novel May 28, 2002
This book was assigned for a graduate course I took in Eastern European history; I couldn't believe that any required reading could be so exciting. It is the true story of Jan Karski's experience as a messenger for the Polish underground, and it doesn't include a dull page. Karski completed several missions, was captured by the Germans, and escaped. The leaders of Poland's Jewish community, knowing that Karski was going to the West, arranged for him to disguise himself as a guard in a death camp so that he could witness the atrocities. He not only went and included his horrifying experiences in this book, he personally reported what he saw to president Roosevelt and other prominent Americans. Karski knew that the West was betraying Poland and, as a last ditch effort to influence Western policy, he wrote and published this book in 1944. It was a best seller and, I believe, a Book-of-the-month club selection. So much for not knowing about what Hitler was doing to the Jews! Do read this amazing story and, to get the full background, read the book "Karksi, How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust," by E. Thomas Wood.