Marek Karp was born on 2 July 1952 in Zamość. He was bringing back the traditions of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania and felt responsible for the legacy of Lithuanian ancestors of the Karp family. In 1980, he graduated from the University of Warsaw Institute of History (with a thesis on the awareness of state and regional community in medieval myths about the origins of Poland). His passions included the history of art and architecture. In the 1980s, he published papers on the history of Central Europe (through underground publishing organisations), co-created the underground periodical “Res Publica” (for which he also worked as a journalist), and participated in the independent forum “Polska w Europie” (“Poland in Europe”). Between 1986 and 1990, he was head of the Main Library of The Warsaw Academy of Arts in Warsaw and lectured on art history there. Between 1989-1991, Marek Karp worked as a researcher at the University of Warsaw’s Department of Baltic Studies, where he specialised in the history of Lithuania. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he actively supported the Lithuanian independence movement, Sajudis. During Lithuania’s critical moments he served as a go-between for the Polish administration under Tadeusz Mazowiecki and the Sajudis leaders.
Marek Karp developed the idea of the Centre for Eastern Studies, established in late 1990 by the Mazowiecki government, and was the Director of OSW for many years. He was an advocate of dialogue between the countries that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union. He died on 12 September 2004 during treatment for injuries suffered as a result of a car accident, which had occurred one month earlier near Biała Podlaska.
Marek Karp was awarded the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas by the Lithuanian authorities. He also received the Aleksander Gieysztor award granted by the editorial board of "Przegląd Wschodni", and the Jerzy Giedroyć award (posthumously, together with OSW). He was also awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by the Polish president (posthumously) for his contribution to the development of co-operation between the nations of Central and Eastern Europe.
Marek never sought publicity. He was a modest man with a great heart, respectful to others, direct and willing to disinterestedly help other people. He will always remain a role model for us.