Jan Karski with a wall-map of the Warsaw Ghetto at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Photo by E. Thomas Wood.
Fiction has a long history of trying to negotiate its way into and around atrocity. So, we sometimes forget, does fact.
Knowing that something unbelievable is true does not make us more able to believe it, just as knowing it is fiction does not make it seem less real. This unsolvable yet ever relevant conundrum was underlined last weekend by Arthur Nauzyciel’s site specific staging of Yannick Haenel’s “Jan Karski (My Name is a Fiction),” presented by the French Institute Alliance Française as part of it’s Crossing the Line 2011 festival.
The reading, based on Nauzyciel’s earlier staging of Haenel’s book (released here as “The Messenger”), concerned the life of Jan Karski. A Polish Catholic, Karski was charged by that country’s Underground during World War II to carry news of the massacre of Poland’s Jews to the governments of England and the United States in order to convince Allied leaders to act in their defense.
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