A reception honoring Ms. Kaya Mirecka Ploss at Consul General's residence
June 6, 2012
A reception honoring Ms. Kaya Mirecka Ploss, well-known Polish-American author and long time companion of Jan Karski (1914-2000), was held at Consul General's residence in Krakow on June 6. Ambassador Douglas Davidson, U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, as well as thirteen cadets and midshipmen from American service academies including Coast Guard joined the reception to celebrate the memory of Dr. Karski and his passion for justice and tolerance. Future leaders of the American Armed Forces are participating in an annual Holocaust-education and anti-genocide program at Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oswiecim. Ambassador Davidson was in Auschwitz to participate in the start of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation’s Perpetual Fund. Ms. Ploss came to Poland to promote her latest book, "A Woman Who Saw Too Much" (2012).
Ms. Ploss was born in Silesia before the Second World War. She was interned in a children's camp in Germany because she is a quarter Jewish. After the war, she studied at Art Academy in England and became a fashion designer in Poland. She left Poland in 1966 for the United States and got married to renowned Harvard Sovietologist Dr. Sydney Ploss. From the first year in America she started promoting Polish culture through radio programs and organizing symposia and concerts, and later became the director of American Center of Polish Culture in Washington.
She was a long time friend and companion of Jan Karski towards the end of his life. Together with Karski's students at Georgetown University and others she established Jan Karski Award in Washington after his death to honor the courageous people who contributed to justice and humanity. The award moved its location to Poland and continues to this day, supported by the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. Past recipients includes Irena Sendler and Lech Walesa, and this year Agnieszka Holland received the honor.
Ms. Ploss also founded "Dream Vacation" program in 1997, inviting children of Silesia to visit America. At an elementary school in Nakło Sląskie, her alma mater, she started "the Children of Silesia Foundation" to contribute to educational activities.
At the reception, Ms. Ploss told about her childhood experience of poverty in Silesia and abuse in the children's camp in war time Germany. She emphasized the importance of accepting others as they are and told about her continuing passion to help disadvantaged children, acting as a bridge between America and Poland, the old generations and new.