April 8, 2013 2 Comments
Below is a picture I took of the Janusz Korczak memorial at Yad Vashem.
Korczak, a Polish Jewish pediatrician, educator, and author, wrote books on the plight of poor children and hosted a popular radio show. He was known all over Poland as ‘Mr. Doctor’ or the ‘Old Doctor’.
He founded an orphanage in Poland for Jewish children, which operated in a unique way. He believed in giving children responsibility and dignity. One of his books was called ‘The Child’s Right to Respect‘ . The children published their own newspaper (the first of its kind in Poland) and ran the school on democratic lines, with unprecedented control of the curriculum. It was so successful, he was asked to found one for Polish Catholic children as well, which he did. Unfortunately, he was forcibly estranged from that orphanage after an anti-Semitic smear campaign waged against him, as a result of his public Zionist activities.
During the war, his orphanage was moved into the Warsaw Ghetto. Korczak was offered a chance to escape when the orphanage was marked for liquidation. He refused, as he did not want to leave the children, wherever they were being sent. He led the children in song to the trains, re-assuring them all the way, probably even in the gas chambers.
For Yom HaShoah.