A special Remembrance Evening commemorating the extraordinary life of the late Jan Nowak-Jezioranski - the famed Courier From Warsaw - was held here on February 1, 2005 at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. Nowak had passed away in Warsaw on January 20, 2005 at the age of 91. His actual name was Zdzislaw Jezioranski but he adopted the nom-de-guerre Jan Nowak (the Polish equivalent of John Doe) to protect his real identity during his heroic, legendary and always extremely dangerous resistance activities in Nazi-German occupied Poland during the 6 years of World War II that began in 1939.
Remembrance Display at Polish Embassy Shown is a poster-size recent photo to the right (credit: Basia Borzuchowska) of Jan Nowak flanked by a red/white floral wreath. They were positioned in front of the speaker's podium during the Remembrance Evening ceremonies.
Jan Nowak was a rare ray of hope during the dark and deadly days of the war. He surreptitiously traveled back and forth between Warsaw and London carrying military and political dispatches to the Polish government-in-exile and the western Allies, and in return to the Home Army (AK) resistance in Poland. It was Nowak who told the world about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. And he fought in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Both of these heroic insurrections were brutally suppressed by the cruel and unmerciful German military occupiers, which resulted in a massive loss of lives and the ultimate destruction of Warsaw. Nowak recounted his amazing exploits and hair-raising experiences by authoring the book Courier From Warsaw in 1974.
Remembrance Display at Polish Embassy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz speaking at the ceremony (photograph to the left)
After the war ended in 1945, Nowak became a bright light shining from afar during the 44 years that the communist USSR totally subjugated Poland. For 25 years he directed Radio Free Europe's Polish Service (long considered RFE's crown jewel) from Munich, serving as the main voice of freedom and democracy for that generation of Poles. He believed that the wind of freedom never stopped blowing in his beloved Poland. In his broadcasts Nowak helped the Poles to see this wind by making it visible to their mind's inner eye.
When Poland again became a free and democratic nation in 1989, Nowak became a trusted and valued advisor to the ensuing presidents and governments. His stature was such that during the preceding and tumultuous Solidarity years, he was consulted as Poland's unofficial ambassador to the U.S. in Washington. The fostering and maintenance of fruitful Polish-Jewish relations became a focus and success of his life. Upon his death, Poland expressed it's great reverence and highest esteem for Nowak by honoring him with a state funeral and uniquely burying him in the heretofore unused, ornate coffin that had originally been crafted for the last king of Poland, Stanislaw II Augustus Poniatowski (1764-1795).
On this cold winter's evening, Jan Nowak was warmly remembered and lionized by his eulogizers with many noble pronouncements and interesting, fascinating anecdotes. Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski offered the opening remarks. In turn, he was followed by Paul Wolfowitz, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense; Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Council Advisor; Daniel Fried, Former Ambassador to Poland; Robert Goodkind, Director of the American Jewish Council and Ross Johnson, Director of Radio Free Europe.
Yes, without a doubt, Jan Nowak-Jezioranski will always be remembered as the Courier from Warsaw. But above all else he must also be remembered for his life's work as A Messenger of Truth.
A short obituary for Jan Nowak appeared on the front page of the March, 2005 issue of the Polish American Journal.