Eyewitness to genocide: He was first to warn of the Holocaust but no one believed him. How many lives could have been saved?

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The Polish Resistance fighter nervously crawled through the dank underground tunnel in desperate wartime Warsaw. But Jan Karski was not an escaper on his way to freedom. Quite the opposite.

When he emerged into the sunlight of a summer’s day in August 1942, he was inside an unimaginable hell-hole — the walled-up Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland’s capital.

He had crossed, he would recall with horror, from ‘the world of the living to the world of the dead’.

The patrician young man — a devout Catholic and a high-flying diplomat before the war — had gone there of his own free will. He was smuggled inside to see the Warsaw Ghetto for himself, an eyewitness to the Holocaust long before that epithet was widely used or the full extent of Hitler’s genocidal ambitions grasped.

What he saw that day would make him one of the first outside observers to witness Hitler’s evil plan to exterminate the Jews in action.

His intention was to report his findings to a world that was sceptical of rumours that such a massive atrocity was really happening under its nose....

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