Karski Eagle Awards granted to Ghetto Fighters' House, General Anders

The Ghetto Fighters' House in Israel and Polish WWII general Władysław Anders are the winners of this year's Karski Eagle Awards, a distinction granted to people and institutions promoting Poland's image and Polish-Jewish relations.

The award jury stressed that both distinctions were related to this year's 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.

General Władysław Anders was awarded posthumously for "his courage to support the fight for an independent Jewish state." Anders led the Polish army out of the Soviet Union through the Middle East to Europe during World War II. In Palestine, he allowed Polish-Jewish soldiers to leave the army and join the fight for a sovereign State of Israel, an act disapproved of by the British administration of Mandatory Palestine.

Israel's Ghetto Fighters' House was awarded for its "testimony to the memory of the combatants fighting in (Nazi-instituted - PAP) ghettos for the honour and dignity of the Jewish Nation." Established in Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot in 1950, the facility was the first Holocaust museum in the world.

Earlier the Karski Eagle Award was granted, among others, to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Poland's former president and Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, Marek Edelman (Warsaw Ghetto hero), Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, and posthumously to Boris Nemtsov.

The Karski Eagle Award was established in April 2000 by Jan Karski to recognise humanitarian service to others, with a special connection to Poland. Jan Karski, a young Polish Roman Catholic diplomat during the early days of World War II, witnessed first-hand the Nazis' treatment of the Jews in ghettos and concentration camps, and attempted to alert high-level government officials in Washington and London before it was too late. Karski remained in Washington, D.C., became an American citizen and taught at Georgetown University for nearly 40 years. Jan Karski, widely regarded as the "man who tried to stop the Holocaust," was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

To learn the fate of Polish Jews, Karski was smuggled into the Warsaw ghetto by the Jewish underground and to the German Belzec death camp. He travelled across occupied Europe to England, and eventually to the US. Karski personally reported to the Polish PM in London, General Władysław Sikorski, Britain's Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, US President Franklin Roosevelt and many other prominent figures. His description of the systematic annihilation of European Jews was met with disbelief and passivity.