The statue of beloved former professor Jan Karski was recently vandalized with paint, according an e-mail sent to students by Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, and Vice President of Mission and Ministry, Fr. Philip Boroughs, S.J., last night. This is the second campus statue to be vandalized in the past two weeks, after the face of the Blessed Virgin statue on Copley Lawn was covered in black paint on Feb. 19, according to university officials.

The statue of Karski currently sits on a bench near White-Gravenor Hall playing chess. Most of the paint was removed by the Office of Facilities Management today, according to the e-mail.

“We write today to underscore that acts of vandalism and intolerance such as this have no place in our campus community,” the e-mail states.

Karski, who passed away in July 2000, was known in his forty years on Georgetown’s campus for his commitment to justice and human rights. In 1942 and 1943, during World War II, Karski brought information about the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto and concentration camps to the Polish government, which was in exile at the time, as well as to the Allied powers.

At the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, former Prime Minister of Poland Wladyslaw Bartoszewski lauded Karski for his instrumental work in notifying the Allies of the atrocities being committed by the Third Reich.

“The Polish resistance movement kept on informing and warning the free world. In the last quarter of 1942, the governments of Great Britain and the United States were precisely informed what was going on in Auschwitz-Birkenau owing to a mission of Polish emissary Jan Karski as well as other reports,” Bartoszewski said in his Jan. 25 address on the anniversary of the camp’s liberation.

After WWII ended, Karski was unable to return to Poland, because the Germans had become aware of his identity. Karski was asked by Polish officials to remain in the United States, where he studied at Georgetown University. He received his Ph.D in 1952 and became an American citizen in 1954. Karski went onto teach at Georgetown for 40 years.

While the e-mail states that it is still unclear who defaced the statue of Karski, it emphasizes the figure’s importance on Georgetown’s campus.

“This statue symbolizes many of the values central to our community, including commitments to academic excellence, interreligious understanding and justice and human rights,” the e-mail states.

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