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Jump to: navigation, search Janusz Korczak
Born July 22, 1879 (1878-07-22)
Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire
Died August 1942 (1942-09)
Treblinka extermination camp
Occupation Children's author, humanitarian, pediatrician and child pedagogue
Janusz Korczak, the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit (July 22, 1878 or 1879 – August 1942), was a Polish-Jewish educator, children's author, and pediatrician known as Pan Doktor ("Mr. Doctor") or Stary Doktor ("Old Doctor"). After spending many years working as director of an orphanage in Warsaw, he refused freedom and stayed with his orphans when the institution was sent from the Ghetto to Treblinka extermination camp, during the Grossaktion Warsaw of 1942.
Spacious apartments – first along Miodowa street, then Świętojerska – had to be given up. Henryk worked as a tutor after school. In 1898 he used Janusz Korczak as a writing pseudonym in the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Literary Contest. The name originated from the book Janasz Korczak and the Pretty Swordsweeperlady (O Janaszu Korczaku i pięknej Miecznikównie) by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski. In the 1890s he studied in the Flying University. During the years 1898–1904 Korczak studied medicine at the University of Warsaw and also wrote for several Polish language newspapers. After graduation he became a pediatrician. In 1905−1912 Korczak worked at Bersohns and Baumans Children's Hospital in Warsaw. During the Russo-Japanese War in 1905–1906 he served as a military doctor. Meanwhile his book Child of the Drawing Room (Dziecko salonu) gained him some literary recognition. After the war he continued his practice in Warsaw. Janusz Korczak with the children in 1920s The orphanage at 92 Krochmalna Street where Korczak worked. He lived in a room in the attic Former Korczak's orphanage, currently 6 Jaktorsowska StreetIn 1907–1908 Korczak went to study in Berlin. While working for the Orphan's Society in 1909 he met Stefania Wilczyńska, his future closest associate. In 1911–1912 he became a director of Dom Sierot in Warsaw, the orphanage of his own design for Jewish children. He took Wilczyńska as his assistant. There he formed a kind-of-a-republic for children with its own small parliament, court, and a newspaper. He reduced his other duties as a doctor. Some of his descriptions of the summer camp for Jewish children in this period and subsequently, were later published in his Fragmenty Utworów and have been translated into English. During World War I, in 1917 Korczak became a military doctor with the rank of Lieutenant. He served again as a military doctor in the Polish Army with the rank of Major during the Polish-Soviet War, but after a brief stint in Łódź was assigned to Warsaw. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janusz_Korczak
Sovereign Poland[edit source | editbeta] In 1926 Korczak arranged for the children of the Dom Sierot to begin their own newspaper, the Mały Przegląd (Little Review), as a weekly attachment to the daily Polish-Jewish Newspaper Nasz Przegląd (Our Review). In these years, his secretary was the noted Polish novelist Igor Newerly. During the 1930s he had his own radio program where he promoted and popularized the rights of children. In 1933 he was awarded the Silver Cross of the Polonia Restituta. Between 1934–1936 Korczak traveled every year to Mandate Palestine and visited its kibbutzim, which led to some anti-semitic commentaries in the Polish press. It additionally spurred his estrangement with the non-Jewish orphanage he had also been working for. Still, he refused to move to Palestine even when Stefania Wilczyńska went to live there in 1938. The Holocaust[edit source | editbeta] Last issue of Mały Przegląd (Little Review) dated 1 September 1939 Janusz Korczak and the children, memorial at Yad Vashem Monument of Korczak at Warsaw Commmemorative stone at TreblinkaIn 1939, when World War II erupted, Korczak volunteered for duty in the Polish Army but was refused due to his age. He witnessed the Wehrmacht takeover of Warsaw. When the Germans created the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940, his orphanage was forced to move from its building, Dom Sierot at Krochmalna 92 to the Ghetto (first to Chłodna 33 and later to Sienna 16 / Śliska 9). Korczak moved in with them. In July, Janusz Korczak decided that the children in the orphanage should put on Rabindranath Tagore’s play, The Post Office. On August 5 or 6, 1942, German soldiers came to collect the 192 orphans (there is some debate about the actual number: it may have been 196), and about one dozen staff members, to transport them to Treblinka extermination camp. Korczak had been offered sanctuary on the “Aryan side” by Żegota but turned it down repeatedly, saying that he could not abandon his children. On August 5, he again refused offers of sanctuary, insisting that he would go with the children. The children were dressed in their best clothes, and each carried a blue knapsack and a favorite book or toy. Joshua Perle, an eyewitness, described the procession of Korczak and the children through the ghetto to the Umschlagplatz (deportation point to the death camps): Janusz Korczak was marching, his head bent forward, holding the hand of a child, without a hat, a leather belt around his waist, and wearing high boots. A few nurses were followed by two hundred children, dressed in clean and meticulously cared for clothes, as they were being carried to the altar. — Joshua Perle, Holocaust Chronicles  According to a popular legend, when the group of orphans finally reached the Umschlagplatz, an SS officer recognized Korczak as the author of one of his favorite children's books and offered to help him escape. By another version, the officer was acting officially, as the Nazi authorities had in mind some kind of "special treatment" for Korczak (some prominent Jews with international reputations got sent to Theresienstadt). Whatever the offer, Korczak once again refused. He boarded the trains with the children and was never heard from again. Korczak's evacuation from the Ghetto is also mentioned in Władysław Szpilman's book The Pianist: He told the orphans they were going out in to the country, so they ought to be cheerful. At last they would be able to exchange the horrible suffocating city walls for meadows of flowers, streams where they could bathe, woods full of berries and mushrooms. He told them to wear their best clothes, and so they came out into the yard, two by two, nicely dressed and in a happy mood. The little column was led by an SS man... — Władysław Szpilman, The Pianist  Some time after, there were rumors that the trains had been diverted and that Korczak and the children had survived. There was, however, no basis to these stories. Most likely, Korczak, along with Wilczyńska and most of the children, was killed in a gas chamber upon their arrival at Treblinka. A differing account of Korczak's departure is given in Mary Berg's Warsaw Ghetto diary: Dr. Janusz Korczak’s children’s home is empty now. A few days ago we all stood at the window and watched the Germans surround the houses. Rows of children, holding each other by their little hands, began to walk out of the doorway. There were tiny tots of two or three years among them, while the oldest ones were perhaps thirteen. Each child carried the little bundle in his hand. — Mary Berg, The Diary  There is a cenotaph for him at the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw, with monumental sculpture of Korczak leading his children to the trains. Created originally by Mieczysław Smorczewski in 1982, the monument was recast in bronze in 2002. The original was re-erected at boarding school for children with special needs in Borzęciczki, which is named after Janusz Korczak. Writings[edit source | editbeta] Korczak's best known writing is his fiction and pedagogy, and his most popular works have been widely translated. His main pedagogical texts have been translated into English, but of his fiction, as of 2012[update] only two of his novels have been translated into English: King Matt the First and Kaytek the Wizard. The copyright to all works by Korczak was acquired by The Polish Book Institute as of January 8, 2010. As of late 2011, they have embarked on an initiative to publish or re-publish many of Korczak's books, both in Polish and in other languages. As the date of Korczak's death was not officially established, his date of death for legal purposes was established in 1954 by a Polish court. As for other people whose death date was not documented, the death date was ruled to be 9. May 1946 and this date is considered by The Polish Book Institute as the beginning of 70 years copyright expiration period. As of 2012 there is ongoing court trial to move the date back to 1942, so that Korczak's works would be available in the public domain as of January 1, 2013. Korczak's overall literary oeuvre covers the period 1896 to August 8, 1942. It comprises works for both children and adults, and includes literary pieces, social journalism, articles and pedagogical essays, together with some scrappy unpublished work, in all totaling over twenty books, over 1,400 texts published in around 100 publications, and around 300 texts in manuscript or typescript form. A complete edition of his works is planned for 2012. Children's books[edit source | editbeta]Korczak often employed the form of the fairy tale in order to actually prepare his young readers for the dilemmas and difficulties of real adult life, and the need to make responsible decisions. In the 1923 King Matt the First (Król Maciuś Pierwszy) and its sequel King Matt on the Desert Island (Król Maciuś na wyspie bezludnej) Korczak depicted a child prince who is catapulted to the throne by the sudden death of his father, and who must learn from various mistakes. He tries to read and answer all his mail by himself and finds that the volume is too much and he needs to rely on secretaries; he is exasperated with his ministers and has them arrested, but soon realises that he does not know enough to govern by himself, and is forced to release the ministers and institute constitutional monarchy; when a war breaks out he does not accept being shut up in his palace, but slips away and joins up, pretending to be a peasant boy - and narrowly avoids becoming a POW; he takes the offer of a friendly journalist to publish for him a "royal paper" -and finds much later that he gets carefully edited news and that the journalist is covering up the gross corruption of the young king's best friend; he tries to organise the children of all the world to hold processions and demand their rights – and ends up antagonising other kings; he falls in love with a black African princess and outrages racist opinion (by modern standards, however, Korczak's depiction of blacks is itself not completely free of stereotypes which were current at the time of writing); finally, he is overthrown by the invasion of three foreign armies and exiled to a desert island, where he must come to terms with reality – and finally does. Recently (2012), another book by Korczak was translated into English. Kajtuś the Wizard (Kajtuś czarodziej) (1933) anticipated Harry Potter in depicting a schoolboy who gains magic powers, and it was very popular during the 1930s, both in Polish and in translation to several other languages. Kajtuś has, however, a far more difficult path than Harry Potter: he has no Hogwarts-type School of Magic where he could be taught by expert mages, but must learn to use and control his powers all by himself - and most importantly, to learn his limitations. Pedagogical books[edit source | editbeta]In his pedagogical works, Korczak shares much of his experience dealing with difficult children. Korczak's ideas were further developed by many other pedagogues such as Simon Soloveychik and Erich Dauzenroth List of selected works[edit source | editbeta]Fiction[edit source | editbeta] Children of the Streets (Dzieci ulicy, Warsaw 1901) Fiddle-Faddle (Koszałki opałki, Warsaw 1905) Child of the Drawing Room (Dziecko salonu, Warsaw 1906, 2nd edition 1927) – partially autobiographical Mośki, Joski i Srule (Warsaw 1910) Józki, Jaśki i Franki (Warsaw 1911) Fame (Sława, Warsaw 1913, corrected 1935 and 1937) Bobo (Warsaw 1914) King Matt the First (Król Maciuś Pierwszy, Warsaw 1923) ISBN 1-56512-442-1 King Matt on a Deserted Island (Król Maciuś na wyspie bezludnej, Warsaw 1923) Bankruptcy of Little Jack (Bankructwo małego Dżeka, Warsaw 1924) When I Am Little Again (Kiedy znów będę mały, Warsaw 1925) Senat szaleńców, humoreska ponura (Madmen's Senate, play premièred at the Ateneum Theatre in Warsaw, 1931) Kaytek the Wizard (Kajtuś czarodziej, Warsaw 1935) Pedagogical books[edit source | editbeta]Momenty wychowawcze (Warsaw, 1919, 2nd edition 1924) How to Love a Child (Jak kochać dziecko, Warsaw 1919, 2nd edition 1920 as Jak kochać dzieci) The Child's Right to Respect (Prawo dziecka do szacunku, Warsaw, 1929) Playful pedagogy (Pedagogika żartobliwa, Warsaw, 1939) Other books[edit source | editbeta]Diary (Pamiętnik, Warsaw, 1958) Fragmenty Utworów (Warsaw: Instytut Wydawniczy Nasza Księgarnia, 1978). Excerpts translated by Adele L. Milch were published in Moment Magazine, November 1979. The Stubborn Boy: The Life of Pasteur (Warsaw, 1935) Books: Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli (2003) – Doctor Korczak runs an orphanage in Warsaw where the main character often visits him Moshe en Reizele (Mosje and Reizele) by Karlijn Stoffels (2004) – Mosje is sent to live in Korczak's orphanage, where he falls in love with Reizele. Set in the period 1939-1942. Original Dutch, German translation available. No English version as of 2009[update]. Once by Morris Gleitzman (2005), partly inspired by Korczak, featuring a character modeled after him Kindling by Alberto Valis (Felici Editori, 2011), Italian thriller novel. The life of Korczak through the voice of a Warsaw ghetto's orphan. As of 2011[update], no English translation. The Time Tunnel - Kingdom of the Children by Galila Ron-Feder-Amit (2007) is an Israeli children's book in the Time Tunnel series that takes place in Korczak's orphanage. Stage plays: Dr Korczak and the Children by Erwin Sylvanus (1957) Korczak's Children by Jeffrey Hatcher (2003) Dr Korczak's Example by David Greig (2001) The Children's Republic A play based on the life and work of Yanusz Korczak (2008) by Elena Khalitov, Harmony Theatre Company and School The Children's Republic by Hannah Moscovitch (2009) Musicals: Facing the wall - Janusz Korczak by Klaus-Peter Rex and Daniel Hoffmann (1997) presented by Music-theatre fuenf brote und zwei fische, Wülfrath Korczak by Nick Stimson and Chris Williams (2011) presented by Youth Music Theatre: UK at the Rose Theatre, Kingston in August 2011. Film: Korczak, written by Agnieszka Holland, directed by Andrzej Wajda (1990) Film: Korczak, written by Agnieszka Holland, directed by Andrzej Wajda (1990) Television: Studio 4: Dr Korczak and the Children - BBC adaptation of Sylvanus's play, written and directed by Rudolph Cartier (13 March 1962) Music: Korczak's Orphans – opera, music by Adam Silverman, libretto by Susan Gubernat (2003) Kaddish – long poem/song by Alexander Galich (1970) Kung Mattias I - opera, music by Viggo Edén, from writings by Korczak, given World Premiere at Höör's Summer Opera (Sweden) on 9 August 2012. 'The Little Review' from album 'Where the Darkness Goes', Awna Teixeira, 2012 Astronomy: Asteroid 2163 Korczak is named in his honor. http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/archive/publications/ThinkersPdf/korczake.PDF Janusz Korczak studied psychological and educational literature from his early youth. He was very interested in the history of educational thought, he was familiar with the works of Pestalozzi and Spencer, and was attracted by the contributions of Froebel. Right from the start of his journalistic activities, he expressed respect, and even fascination for the works of these authors. In 1899 he wrote in one of the periodicals of the day: ‘The names of Pestalozzi, Froebel and Spencer shine with no less brilliance than the names of the greatest inventors of the twentieth century. For they discovered more than the unknown forces of nature; they discovered the unknown half of humanity: children.’9 Korczak frequently read the works of Tolstoy. The ideas contained in the essay ‘Who is to learn from whom how to write: peasant children from us, or we from peasant children?’ were particularly close to his own. Like Tolstoy, he proclaimed the need to rise up and open our minds to the thoughts, emotions and experiences of children.9 Korczak’s programme of pedagogical work was based on the thesis that children should be fully understood, that one should enter into the spirit of their world and psychology, but that, first and foremost, children must be respected and loved, treated in fact as partners and friends. In his own words: ‘Children are not future people, because they are people already....Children are people whose souls contain the seeds of all those thoughts and emotions that we possess. As these seeds develop, their growth must be gently directed.’11 His work as an educator and teacher Korczak’s first experience in pedagogical practice was acquired when he still worked as a physician. While a student at the Department of Medicine he accepted work in summer camps for children. In 1904 he participated in such camps for Jewish children at Michalòwka, in Ostròw Mazowiecki county. At this early stage he introduced some of his own ideas for organizing the life of a community of children. These included special duties, a system of self-control and the goodwill plebiscite.14 He worked once more in children’s camps in the summers of 1907 and 1908. This gave him additional experience and an opportunity to test new ways of solving educational problems.15 In 1910 a building lot was purchased at Krochmalna Street in Warsaw, for the purpose of establishing an orphanage. This he did, introducing his pedagogical programme into the orphanage’s everyday life during the years 1912–14. He returned to his educational work as soon as he came home from the war. He collaborated with the Nasz Dom (Our Home) Educational Institute at Pruskòw near Warsaw. He resolutely overcame numerous difficulties, mainly material in nature, of the Warsaw Home for Orphans. He helped the superintendent of the home to direct the educational programme. When this institution moved to Warsaw a few years later, he continued to be involved in its management. His contract with Nasz Dom continued until 1936. Korczak engaged in various forms of popularization of knowledge with the Warsaw Philanthropic Institution, in free reading-rooms, and through the Warsaw Society for Hygiene. From 1900 he was associated with the Flying University, a clandestine post-secondary school that operated in Warsaw during the Russian partition.17 In 1905–06 the school was legalized as the Society for Academic Courses. Later on (after 1915) the Polish Free University was founded, and Korczak soon became involved. In 1922 he gave a course at the National Institute of Special Education,18 a school that prepared educators for work with handicapped and educationally difficult children. He gave numerous courses and lectures to scientific and lay audiences. Korczak returned to practical educational activity in 1939. Working in an orphanage, he helped children made homeless by the war. He fought to maintain the orphanage, and was forced to move with the children to different buildings on several occasions. As a home for Jewish children, it was within the confines of the ghetto. Janusz Korczak and his children were transported to the Treblinka extermination camp in 1942. He remained with them and shared their tragic end. Finally, Janusz Korczak was the author of a number of literary works—novels, stories and a play. His Senat szalencòw (Madmen’s senate) was performed in 1931 by the Ateneum Theatre, and was received with great interest. Korczak’s activity as a writer waned in the 1930s. During this period he became very interested in Jewish and Hebrew culture, travelling to Palestine in 1934 and 1936. He published articles and stories in Palestinian periodicals, as well as in Warsaw periodicals for Jewish youth. As an adjunct to his pedagogical journalism he wrote minor works on hygiene, pediatrics and social medicine. He also had very popular radio talks in 1935–36 and 1938–39. These talks were published in 1939 in book form Pedagogika zartobliwa (Playful pedagogy). Written during the Second World War, his Pamietnik (Memoires) occupies a special position among his writings, as a work written under tragic circumstances, in an atmosphere of growing cruelty and aggression. True to children and true to his ideals, ever true to himself, he laid down his own life in sharing with the children their tragic fate at Treblinka. He did not take advantage of the opportunity to relinquish his charges and save his own life at that price, because he really lived for his children. Janusz Korczak exerted and continues to exert an influence on the minds and hearts of mankind, not only through his pedagogical writing, journalism, educational and medical practice, and literary works. His influence also springs from his exceptional personality, the passion of his struggle for children’s happiness, and the warm sentiment he displayed for those in his care. It springs from his life itself and the sacrifice of his life under tragic circumstances. Works by Korczak The bibliography of Janusa Korczak’s works in Polish comprises about 1,100 publications (together with new editions). Main assembled works: Pisma wybrane [Selected works]. Introduction and selection by Aleksander Lewin. Warszawa, Nasza Ksiegarnia, 1984, vol.. 1–2. Pisma wybrane [Selected works]. Introduction and selection by Aleksander Lewin. Warszawa, Nasza Ksiegarnia, 1985, vol.. 3. Pisma wybrane [Selected works]. Introduction and selection by Aleksander Lewin. Warszawa, Nasza Ksiegarnia, 1986, vol.. 4. Wybór pism [Selected texts]. Selected by Stefan Wol,/oszyn. Warszawa, Wiedza Powszechna, 1982. Fragmenty utworów [An anthology of works]. Selected by Danuta Stepniewska. Warszawa, Nasza Ksiegarnia, 1978. A full bibliography of Korczak’s works is to be found in: Janusz Korczak. Bibliografia 1896–1942. Heinsberg, Agentur Dieck, 1985. Janusz Korczak. Bibliografia polska 1943–1987. Heinsberg, Agentur Dieck, 1988. Selected Works of Janusz Korczak. Warsaw, 1967. J. Korczak: Ghetto Diary. New York, Holocaust Library, 1978. J. Korczak: Wie man ein Kind lieben soll [ ]. Göttingen, Vandenhoeck und Rprecht, 1967. J. Korczak: Der kleine Prophet [ ]. Gütersloh, Güterslohner Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1988. J. Korczak: Verteidigt die Kinder. Erzählende Pädagogik [ ]. Gütersloh, Güterslohner Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1978. Allein mit gott. Gebete eines Menschen, der nicht betet [ ]. Gütersloh, Güterslohner Verlaghaus, 1981. J. Korczak: Colonies de vacances [ ]. Paris, La pensée universelle, 1984. J. Korczak: Comment aimer un enfant [ ]. Paris, Eds. Robert Lafont, 1978. J. Korczak: Le gloire [ ]. Flemmenan, 1980. J. Korczak: Moïse, le Benjamin de la Bible [ ]. Paris, UNESCO, 1988. J. Korczak: Le Droit de ? enfant en respect [ ]. Paris, Eds. Robert Lafont, 1979. Bibliography Beiner, F.; Dauzenroth, E.; Lax, E. J. Korczak. Bibliographie, Quellen und Literatur 1943–1987 [×××]. Heinsberg, Agentur Dieck, 1987.