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Janusz Korczak

Biography
Life and work
( 36 Chapter by Betty Lifton )

     

     

    Who was Janusz Korczak ?

    Janusz Korczak was named at birth on 22nd July 1878 in Warsaw Henryk Goldszmit. He grew up in an assimilative Jewish family and decided himself for a study in medicine. As result of his literary engagement he early was well known in Poland as literary figure. Though a soon advance in international academic circles was predicted he decided himself for another way of life and engaged himself for the poor and orphan children in Warsaw´s desperate quarters. As small boy he already slipped of his parent-house to play with the children of the backyards.

    Parallel to his decision to take engagement for these children and deciding himself against middle-class life and career he changed his name to Janusz Korczak. The pseudonym was taken from him by a favored novel of the 19th century by J.I.Krazewski about `Janasz Korczak and the pretty Swordsweeperlady´. The Printer by mistake changed Janasz to Janusz and so he left that so.

    From 1911 Korczak guided the orphan-house `Dom Sierot´ which was created by his plans. Here he developed as result of the reflected practice the idea of a peaceful and classless society. This was caused by the recognition of Korczak that the society split in two parties : the adult and the children of which the children where the weaker party. Between both there was a permanent fight of unequal because the children had no chance in this fight.

    Though both parties had same social fate of childhood, the adults neglected their childhood and Korczak tried to make this conscious to the adult and the children.

    Besides of the guidance of the orphan-house `Dom Sierot´ and later also another children’s-home, the `Nasz Dom´ Korczak permanently thinks about his experiences, developing his sight of education and fighting for a better fate for the children in the street. In his books for children about `King James I.´ to be precise `Krol Macius´ for example he gives description how children as experts in their own matters in a world of children structure their own world and how adults may support them.

    In his pedagogical principal books `How you shall love a child´ and `The rights of a child to be respected´ he explains a better view of education as result of his experiences and his loving engagement. Both don’t contain a static theory with strict solutions. His pedagogy rather is an appeal to the adults to prove their relation to the children and to change themselves.

    In `Dom Sierot´ he realizes his idea of a democratic republic of children. The children have their own parliament, court and newspaper - the `Maly Przeglad / Little Magazine ´ and many other `institutions´ where children and adults deal with each other teaching both adults and children how to relate with another without suppression or domination. For the child’s-court Korczak teached that forgiving is more important than revenge and punishment. With the newspaper he teached freedom of opinion and consciousness of democracy and trained it. The children’s-newspaper was weekly attachment of a daily adults-newspaper with a circulation of 60.000 pcs. in 1926.

    Besides of his duties as principal of both children-houses, doctor and bookwriter Janusz Korczak also was Polish radio, principal of an experimental school, publisher of a children’s-newspaper and docent at Polish University.

    Korczak also acted as expert witness to the district court of minors. In this position he always sided with the children. In a case of murder executed by a minor he viewed the minor as the victim of the adults who didn’t provide the minor with an proper education and not providing and refusing the minor the normal development resulting that the minor turned to be violent criminal.

    The beginning of the world war 1939 forced him to act again as military-doctor and siding the fate of the attacked Polish people with his loyalty.

    Under the regime of the nazis in Warsaw they created the Jewish ghetto and the orphan-house was forced to move into the Jewish ghetto. Korczak lived there together with the children under inhuman condition till the nazis started with the killing of the people in the ghettos of Warsaw and the `movings´ to Treblinka.

    Wednesday the 5th of August 1942 the orphan-house turned to be prosecuted and Korczak and 200 of `his´ children became murdered by the nazis.

    Dr. Korczak had several chances to save his own life, but he rejected with indignation all proposals to that. He would have felt to be a traitor to the children, his duties and his opinions.



Janusz Korczak - Table of life

1878

He was born on 22nd of July as Henryk Goldszmit in Warsaw.
His parents: Cecylia and Josef Goldszmit.
His father was lawyer and derived from eastern district close to Lublin.


1896

The first publication `the gordic knot´ as pupil on high-school. His father dies in psychiatric clinic.

1899

He wins prize in a literary contest under his pseudonym Janusz Korczak.
He keeps this pseudonym for the rest of his life.


1901

Novel `children of the street´, he makes a trip to Zurich on the trail of Pestalozzi.


1898/1904

Studies and promotion in medicine in Warsaw. He starts providing aid to the children in the district of the poor in Warsaw. He start to act in pedagogic education. After his promotion to doctor he starts as doctor in a children’s-clinic.


1904/1906

He acts as military doctor in the japanese-russian war.

1904/1906

Novel `child of the salons´.


1906/1911

Duties in a children’s-clinic in the district of the poor of Warsaw.
At the same time he also acts as respected and recommended independent doctor for the rich to earn for his duties to the poor.
Continued medical studies in Berlin, Paris and London and beginning of Pediatric, Educator in `summer-colonies with children and minors.


1912/1914

Principal of the Jewish orphan-house `Dom Sierot = house of the orphan´,
which was built to his ideas in Warsaw, Krochmalna 92.
Caused by his duties as principal he reduces his activities as doctor.


1914/1918

Military-doctor. In this time his first principal book on pedagogic `How you shall love a child´ is written and published.



1919

Again principal of `Dom Sierot´.
At the same time creation of the children’s-house `Nasz Dom = Our house´ together with Maryna Falska ( 1877-1944) and the activity as its principal.

Maryna Falska goes her own way in Korczak-education. As a communist lady she does not respect childrens rights of religion. Communists systematic start to impose Korczak`s work and name.

Courses of special-pedagogic.
Children’s-novel `King James I.´, novel `When I’m again nothing´,
`Alone with God- prayers of a human that doesn’t pray´.


1926

Foundation of the first newspaper edited by children for children
- the `Maly Pryzeglad´= the little Magazine, as weekly attachment to
the daily Polish - Jewish Newspaper `Nasz Pryzeglad´ = Our Magazine.


1928/1931

His second principal-pedagogic-book `The right of a child to receive respect´,
Drama `The Senate of the crazy´, children’s- novel `The bankruptcy of the little Jack´.


1931/1939

Essay at the Polish radio `Radio-talk of an old doctor´, novel `Katjus the wizard´
- later in German `Kaitus or the secrets of Anton´.


1934 and 1936

Travels to Palestine.


1940

The moving of the `Dom Sierot´ to the Jewish ghetto of War- saw forced by the nazis.


1942

` Remembering ´ ( the diaries of the Ghetto ) saved by Igor Newerly and later published by him.
In the beginning of August the exodus of the `Dom Sierot´ together with Korczak, Stefania Wilczynska - his assistant since 1911 and other members of the staff together with more than 200 children to the KZ Treblinka - the estimated day of all killed is to be 5th of August 1942.


1957

The theater-part `Korczak and the children´ by Erwin Sylvanus in German.


1957/1958

The first complete edition of all literature from Janusz Korczak published
by Igor Newerly ( together four volumes ).

1959

Declaration of by the general meeting of the United Nations.


1967

Beginning of the German `Korczak edition´ with `How a child is to be loved´ published by Elisabeth Heimpel and Hans Roos with introduction by Igor Newerly, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.


1972

Peace-award of the German booksellers posthum to Janusz Korczak
on his 30th anniversary of death.


1977

Foundation of the German-Korczak-society
( Erich Dauzenroth and Adolf Hampel, Giessen )


1978

Foundation of the International-Korczak-Society in Warsaw.


1985

Janusz Korczak Bibliography 1896-1942, published
by A. Lewin, F. Beiner and E. Dauzenroth.


1987

Janusz Korczak Bibliography in German ( 1943-1987) published
by F. Beiner, E. Dauzenroth and E. Lax.

1995

Poeple in Munich think for a world-exhibition about Janusz Korczak.
The idea of Korczak-City was born.
Michael Parciak visited Korczak-Societies in Germany, Poland, Netherland and
Mr. Anolik in Israel.


1996

The project of Korczak-City got patronat of the
Polish National Commission for UNESCO (Ref. 923/96).

Korczak-City became a homepage at Internet.

1997

Internet- Domain: "http://Korczak.com" start its work.

Friends in Janusz Korczak will find a place on it for their own homepage.

Project Korczak-City will find sponsors and money.

Korczak.com-"Housekeeper" Michael Parciak will find integerty Korczak-Friends, building up a serious international group.


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