The Nazi Holocaust: A Tribute to Janusz Korczak

Auschwitz: “Good Work Will Make Men Free”

Although this picture displays the deceitful welcoming message above the entry to the Auschwitz death camp, this brief note is written as a memorial for Janusz Korczak, a Polish Jew.

A few years after graduating from medical school, in 1912 Korczak became the director of the Jewish orphanage of Warsaw, providing empathic, clinically insightful care for children from the slums. From then on until his death, he worked at the orphanage.

Shortly after the beginning of the Nazis occupation of Warsaw, an order was made by the Germans demanding that all Jewish persons had to live in a small area of Warsaw that came to be known as the infamous “Warsaw Ghetto”, where they would be destined to perish. The orphanage that Korczak directed was also ordered to relocate to the ghetto, and he continued his work at the orphanage there.

On August 6, 1942, the Nazis issued an order that the two hundred children living in the Jewish orphanage of the Warsaw Ghetto were to be taken to a train station and packed into railroad cars. Korczak, like other Jews in the ghetto, knew that the train’s destination was the Treblinka death camp, where all of the children would be murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka.

On the designated day for their arrival at the train station, Korczak appointed the oldest boy in the orphanage to lead the group, carrying a flag of hope, a four-leaf clover on a field of green–the emblem of the orphanage. Korczak walked immediately behind this leader, gently holding the hands of the two youngest children. Behind them, in excellent order, marched all the other children of the orphanage. The impression of the children’s self-confidence struck the policemen, who previously had been whipping and cursing the Jews into the railroad cars, so much that they immediately snapped to attention and officially saluted them. One of the guards was so deeply moved by this unexpected event that he told Korczak to leave–adamantly stating that only the children had been ordered to board the train. As he tried to move Korczak away from the children, Korczak refused to separate himself from the children and went with them to Treblinka, where they all would die.

Korczak’s freely chosen death would signify the utter righteousness of his life. After World War II, Janusz Korczak became a legend in Poland, Europe and other countries outside of Europe. He was posthumously awarded the German Peace Price and honored on the hundredth anniversary of his birthday by UNESCO officially declaring that year to be Korczak Year, as well as by Poland and many other countries. Pope Paul II stated that in our modern world, Janusz Korczak was a symbol of true religion and morality.

He should be memorialized today, serving to provide a true example for those who continue to work with young persons, as one who devoted his own life’s work as the most devoted friend of children.

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8 Responses to “The Nazi Holocaust: A Tribute to Janusz Korczak”

  1. anna Says:

    nice page :]

  2. 111.biga.be Says:

    111.biga.be…

    nice page :]…

  3. disembedded Says:

    Anna,

    Thanks very much.

  4. fullmonty Says:

    Very moving. Have just read ‘Shadow of the Wall’and am humbled by the actions of Janusz Korczak. Many thanks.

  5. disembedded Says:

    Fullmonty,

    Thanks much for your comments about Korczak!!

  6. Lord Protector Says:

    I always dispair and hurt whenever I stumble across the Nazi Tyranny and evil onto the Jews. I try to relive the moment that this people went through. The images flash in my mind as if I ws there walking alongside them into the gas chambers, firing squad, torcher rooms and ovens. I live all the way across the globe, and cannot believe such a holocaust happened on planet earth, the place i call home. I walk the same ground these evil men walked, the screams of terror of torchered jews….and victims of Nazi tyranny still exist. I feel for all of you for Hitler chose a Symbol which is supposed to represent peace, power of god, goodness, kindness, love, a hindu symbol. I am a Hindu……..its hurts me that his evil man did such evil under that Divine symbol. NEVER AGAIN!!!

  7. Azzurra Says:

    Buon luogo, congratulazioni, il mio amico!

  8. Geoff Dodd Says:

    Thank you Korczak for rendering me aware. You were a personal sacrifice amidst inhuman nazi atrocities. Extremists seem to go off the rails of humanity and I’m saddened too deeply to express.


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