Israel honours Janusz Korczak

3 new books about the Polish educator

Korczak Memorial in Yad Vashem (picture by Wikimedia commons)

Korczak Memorial in Yad Vashem (picture by Wikimedia commons)

Haaretz devotes a feature to the figure of Janusz Korczak, the Polish pedagogist who followed his little pupils into the gas chambers of Treblinka. This year in Israel 3 books have been published about the educator, who carried out his activity for 40 years before following the fate of the Jewish people in the Nazi lager.

First of all it is worth mentioning the Hebrew version of his child book King Matt the First. Translator Uri Orlev explains that Korczak, besides fascinating him because of his texts, hit his imagination because he had been the mentor of his teacher. Always to stress the fact that his work goes beyond the Nazi era, the linguist says: "Korczak worked in an era in which one used to whip children, to educate them. He firmly opposed that and the disciplinarism of the adult society in general.

Among else he was the author of a Declaration of children's rights for which the minor has the right "to love, respect, living in the present, making mistakes, being him or herself, failing, protesting injustice, being appreciated for how he or she is and having secrets. All this in 1924". 

In the abysses of history

Also philosopher Moshe Shner, who has written the book Janusz Korczak and Itzhak Katznelson - Two Educators in the Abysses of History, agrees that one cannot remember this Righteous among the nations for his sacrifice in the Holocaust, only. "He had Jewish origins, but he lacked Jewish traits. He did not speak neither Hebrew nor Yiddisch, although he spoke many languages". 

This year has witnessed also the publication of another book, The Child is a Person: Janusz Korczak's Educational Thought, by Marc Silverman. In the end it makes clear that the Polish doctor and educator chose to follow the children into the gas chambers as a supreme rebellious act of a man who had devoted his life to the principle by which children should not be forced into anything against their will. 

"Korczak practically did what he preached", and this is why it is unfortunately too often difficult to single out his scientific figure from his figure of Righteous always keen on defending human dignity. 

Don’t miss the story of the Righteous and the memory of Good

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