Today my associate “RH” and I attempted what only one New York Times reporter has managed to do in the past month: circumnavigate Manhattan on foot. We made it eight miles before a hot borscht/apple pie meal was in order and after that, walking did not seem a wise way to move.
We did, however, make a friend before we were debilitated by sustenance — Jan Karski, the WWII resistance hero immortalized in metal outside the Polish Consulate at Madison and 37th. He is so great, and here is why: At the beginning of WWII, using the pseudonym “Witold Kucharski,” Karski traveled through the mountains from Poland to France to deliver secret reports for the Polish Government-in-Exile; on his way back he memorized a complex military resistance plan and then delivered it exactly as it was written. When captured and tortured by the Slovakian Gestapo on a separate mission, he slashed his wrists so not to be forced to reveal secrets. Later, he sneaked into a Jewish transit camp dressed as an Estonian guard to gather a firsthand account of what, exactly, was going on. Called upon by Roosevelt in 1943 to testify about the camps, the president did not believe what Karski told him — until the Warsaw Uprising the next year.
Like any good Polish resistance fighter, Karski settled into a life of academia at Georgetown. He died in 2000, but still managed to enjoy some energy drinks and a game of chess with RH:
See you soon Jan! We WILL be back!