Primary School Number 3 in Zielonka
JANUSZ KORCZAK, patron of scool
1878-1942

Oil portrait based on the photograph painted by Witold Wyczółkowski in 2002

Złote myśli Janusza Korczaka

         Our school patron is Janusz Korczak, known also as "Old Doctor". His real name was Henryk Goldszmit and he was a doctor and an educator. He was born on 22 July 1878 or 1879 in Warsaw in a family of a wealthy lawyer of Jewish origin,which was deeply rooted in Polish culture and traditions. All his life was associated with Warsaw.
         When Korczak was 18 years old his father died, which appeared to be the family tragedy and led to its difficult financial situation. The burden of keeping the family was put on Henryk`s shoulders, who was a medical student at the time. Therefore he earned money by coaching children of rich parents. This was the time when he developed his interest in psychology and living conditions of poor children. He became a frequent visitor to the working class living areas in Warsaw. He used to go from house to house helping the children with their schoolwork, telling them fairy tales or giving small gifts as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Soon he started his social activity in Warsaw Society of Charity.
         He graduated from the Medical Faculty of Warsaw University in 1903 and began his work as a physician with speciality pediatrics at children's hospital in Warsaw. Very quickly Korczak gained popularity as a doctor of the poor. In the meanwhile he broadened his knowledge in clinics of Berlin, London and Paris.
         During the Russian-Japanese war in 1905 he was assigned as military physician. After the war he returned to his hospital and little patients - rich and poor alike. He resigned from making a career in private practice. Being about 30 he vowed never to have his own family and devote his life to children, especially those underprivileged.
         Korczak persuaded a Jewish organization called "Help the Orphans" to fund a new house for these waifs. The children moved into a new building at 92 Krochmalna St. in 1912 and the home was named "Dom Sierot" (House of the Orphans). Korczak was appointed to the position of the principal and moved into it, taking a room in the attic above the children's bedrooms. He was 34 years old at that time. Dom Sierot became a place where he created and applied his rearing methods. There he wrote by nights his works on educational topics and novels.
         After Poland gained independence in 1918 Janusz Korczak together with Maria Falska established an orphanage for neglected children from Warsaw suburbs, children of Labour movement activists who were prosecuted, arrested or imprisoned.
         In the period between the wars, Korczak cooperated with Polish Radio giving a series of very popular talks on children and their bringing up. "The Old Doctor", which was the name he used on the radio, was well known and loved all over Poland.
         The breakout of The II World War in September 1939 meant for Korczak service unmilitary sanitary division. He wasn't called for arms as he was already over 60. Nevertheless he actively participated in the defense of Warsaw, treating the wounded, protecting the homeless children and maintaining Dom Sierot. He also spoke to children on the radio giving them advice on how to behave in that difficult situation. He didn't take off a Polish military uniform in occupied Warsaw. He refused to wear the "Zion Star" on his clothing which was obligatory for the people of Jewish origin. In consequence he was arrested and put in prison. After a few months he was let on bail, paid by former pupils. When the Nazi Germans ordered to create the Warsaw Ghetto Dom Sierot was located in smaller and smaller houses. Life in ghetto meant for Korczak a two-year constant struggle for getting food, medicine, fuel etc. to keep 200 orphans.
         In February 1942 Korczak decided to take a position of an educator in the orphanage in Dzielna St. trying to help the children abused by the ghetto staff. Countless offers from his friends came to help him escape but all were rejected by Korczak who refused to abandon his children, for he alone was their protector. His moving Ghetto Diary, written by nights, ends on 4 August.
         On 22July a horrifying action of liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto was began by the Nazists. From Umschlagplatz in Stawki St., the railroad marshall yard, transports of Jews in windowless, sealed cat cars were sent to the gas chambers at death camp in Treblinka. Between 5 and 8 August about 4000 children were sent to death. Among them Korczak`s orphans marching in formation holding the green flag of hope, and Janusz Korczak carrying the youngest child. in his arms. He was prepared to go his death rather than betray them.

He became a symbol of martyrology of thousands of nameless victims at extermination camps.


JANUSZ KORCZAK LITERARY LEGACY

         Korczak showed his literary talent in educational writings. He created and described educational methods applied in institutions directed by him.
         Since 1896 his articles, sketches, essays and dramas appeared in periodical "Kolce" and since 1989 in "Głos". Since 1901 He writes a series of articles about education using different names: Hen, Ryk, Hen-Ryk, h.g, G.
         The main topics of his works soon becomes a child, his position in society, conditions, needs, school.
         The first published book is called "The children of the street"(1901). He wrote novels and stories for adults mainly with the aim of making society more aware of children's problems, more sensitive to children's harm and helping parents to realize the reasons for failure in bringing up a child.
The most famous are:

         In his most Fruitful, mature period of life Korczak wrote books for children and teenagers only          Some of them were enthusiastically greeted by children readers in Poland. Owing to children Korczak wrote the continuation of King Matt lots. Children sent letters to the author with suggestions of further chapters to be written.
         This enormous interest in books and their heroes was the biggest prize for Korczak, who always claimed that the best critics are children themselves.


school e-mail webmaster: Anna Rozalska Engl. transl. - M.Zawisza

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