WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The U.S.-based Jan Karski Educational Foundation has awarded its Spirit of Jan Karski Award 2014 to U.S. Sen. John McCain.
The award is given annually to people who work to defend human rights, prevent genocide, and promote the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.
Karski, who was not Jewish, was an officer of the Polish Underground during World War II and was among the first to provide eyewitness accounts to the Allies of Nazi Germany’s murder of the Jews.
Andrzej Rojek, chairman of the foundation, said the foundation’s council was unanimous in its decision to honor McCain, an Arizona Republican. “It’s a reward for courage and opposing acts of international aggression. Senator McCain has his entire life served affairs that resonate with the ideas of Karski,” said Rojek in a statement.
The ceremony will take place on Nov. 20 at the Polish Consulate in New York.
Meanwhile, the Jan Karski Institute for Tolerance and Dialogue opened on Nov. 16 in Kielce in a building where a pogrom against Polish Jews occurred in 1946.
Bogdan Bialek, president of Polish Jan Karski Association, said that the Institute will be involved in creating dialogue between people from different cultures.
In a related incident, it was revealed that the family of Jan Karski was not invited to the grand opening last month of the core exhibition of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which includes Karski in its exhibition. “Nobody from the museum ever contacted me,” Karski’s niece, Dr. Wieslawa Kozielewska-Trzaska, told the Forward.
“The museum did not cooperate directly with the members of the family of Jan Karski mentioned in Forward’s article, hence as a museum we did not issue a direct invitation,” Grzegorz Tomczewski, a spokesman for the museum told JTA.