The scripts from two plays by the late playwright Marc P. Smith, A Journey to Kreisau and Karski, are available, free of charge, for use by Facing History and Ourselves educators for classroom study purposes. The two scripts dovetail with Facing History's “Holocaust and Human Behavior” unit of study and provide new materials on resistance during the Holocaust.
Educators interested in using the plays in their classrooms should download the letter of agreement and follow the instructions indicated on the form. For more information about this exciting partnership, visit thekreisauproject.com.
A Journey to Kreisau tells the powerful and little-known story of Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, courageous central figures in German resistance to the horrors of the Third Reich. At the von Moltke estate in Kreisau, Eastern Germany, a small circle of friends—capitalists and socialists, clergy and non-believers, men and women—laid plans for a post-Hitler world that would encompass a democratic Germany within a democratic Europe. Within the Nazi regime, this activity was definitively treasonous. Helmuth James was arrested, imprisoned, and then executed by the Nazis during the final months of the Third Reich. Freya escaped with their two sons, ultimately coming to live in Vermont. The von Moltke estate, now part of Poland and called Krzyzowa, is a center for the study of reconciliation, tolerance, and democratic values.
Karski presents the intense and chilling story of Jan Karski, a hero of the Polish underground who is sometimes referred to as ‘the man who tried to stop the Holocaust.' Karski joined the Polish Underground Army at the outset of the German occupation of his country, serving as courier between underground groups in Poland and the government in exile in London. With breathtaking courage and subterfuge, he smuggled himself into the Warsaw ghetto to witness what was happening there and then (in a borrowed Ukranian guard’s uniform) entered a Nazi extermination camp in Eastern Poland. He was so horrified by what he saw that he made the perilous journey across Nazi-occupied Europe to report first-hand to Western leaders in England and in the U.S. His reports were generally received with disbelief as being too outrageous to be true. Karski remained in the United States teaching at Georgetown University until his death in 2000.
He was posthumously awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in May 2012. April, 2014, marked the centennial of his birth.