E. Thomas Wood


E. Thomas Wood is the co-author (with the late Stanisław M. Jankowski) of the biography Karski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust (Wiley, 1994). He was the co-writer and narrator of the 2015 documentary Karski & The Lords of Humanity.

 Tom spent 25 years as a reporter and editor at local publications in Nashville, his hometown. He was also a regular freelancer for The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal and other news outlets. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What was Jan Karski’s job during World War II? Who did he work for? How did he escape from the hospital in Nowy Sącz?                                                                
  2. Why did Jan Karski go into the Warsaw Ghetto? What did he experience there? What things stuck out to him? How did these experiences differ from what he witnessed at the sorting camp, Izbica?                       
  3. Why do you think that U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Felix Frankfurter, said that he was “unable to believe” the information Jan Karski shared about the murder of the Jews in Europe?                                                   
  4. How did Franklin Delano Roosevelt react to Jan Karski’s news about the Nazis’ murder of the Jews? How did Karski react to Roosevelt?

Writing Prompts:

  1. Reflect on the following and develop a short essay:

Mr. Wood says, “I don’t even think you would need Professor Karski here today to learn from his example of tenacity in the face of whatever life throws at you.” What lessons can you learn from Professor Jan Karski in your life? How can his story inspire strong morality? Perseverance? Courage?

  1. Reflect on the following and develop a short essay:

At the end of the interview, Professor Karski says, “We, the survivors, we the people of goodwill, must join forces all over the world to combat hatred, prejudices, racism, and antisemitism.” These are still challenges that people face in the 21st century. In what ways can an individual combat the evils Professor Karski mentions? Consider the importance of compassion, education, and understanding.