Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of the Polish city of Gdansk who was assassinated on Sunday night, will posthumously receive a prestigious award named in honor of the World War II resistance hero who first exposed the scale of the Holocaust in Poland.
The Jan Karski Eagle Award — launched by Jan Karski, a former senior officer in the Polish resistance, before his death in 2000 — is given out annually to individuals or organizations who are distinguished by their “humanitarian service to others.” Past winners have included the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Poland’s former president and Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, and Marek Edelman, a leader of the Jewish armed uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto that erupted in April 1943.
One of the committee members of the Jan Karski Society, the organization that decides on the Eagle Award’s recipient, told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that there were clear parallels between Karski and Adamowicz, who was an outspoken opponent of far-right extremism in Poland and a close ally of the Polish Jewish community.
“Karski stood up courageously for truth and justice, frequently putting his life in danger to find the truth and make it public,” Abraham Foxman — the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League and himself a survivor of the Holocaust in Poland — remarked.
“Mayor Adamowicz stood up for the truth, justice and respect, and fell victim to hate,” said Foxman. “He is posthumously a worthy recipient of the Jan Karski award.”
Thousands of Poles gathered in Gdansk and other cities on Monday to pay tribute to Adamowicz. The mayor was stabbed through the heart by an alleged right-wing extremist as he spoke to a crowd of thousands at a charity concert in Gdansk.
“May his memory be for a blessing,” said Foxman, who was awarded the Karski Eagle in 2006. “Hopefully this will be a changing moment in the current political turmoil for tolerance and understanding.”