Sunday, January 13, 2013

Korczak spectacles and other items

The orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto was empty and silent that hot summer night in August 1942. All that remained of Janusz Korczak was his wire-rimmed glasses lying on the table...

I was often thinking about "non-written" items, artifacts, after Janusz Korczak. Items like his pen, may be a painting from his room, or others items of daily use. I know just two of them that survived, one is his spectacles and the second his light microscope. That´s it !

Korczak left the manuscript of Memoirs behind at the children’s home. It was found by my father Misha Wasserman Wróblewski. He transported it with other manuscripts and with Doctors spectacles that were found on the table close to his bed, from Sienna 16,m Little Ghetto to Large Ghetto.

Korczak's spectacles, with a cracked lens, were lying on the bed table where he had put them the night before, and his papers were scattered about the room.

After work outside the ghetto my father returned to Sienna 16. The house was empty. My father went up to Korczak’s room. Korczak’s spectacles were still on his desk. My father gathered Korczak’s papers and threw them into a suitcase together with his spectacles..

At dusk he went with The Boys and the suitcase into the Large Ghetto to Felek Grzybs place. My father and The Boys stayed together as they had a common work (arranged by Korczak) to go to. As it was dangerous to remain in one apartment for too long so they moved from apartment to apartment, generally staying with different former graduates of Korczak’s orphanage. At some point they were unable to return to one of the apartments where he’d been staying and became separated from the suitcase with Korczak’s papers and spectacles. However, as suitcase stayed at one of the former Korczak graduates it is likely that he arranged to smuggle it from the ghetto.

Janusz Korczak dates the beginning of his Memoirs May 1942. That was his first and the last Memoirs. Korczak had never before in his life kept a diary. His last entry in Memoirs is this:

I am watering the flowers. My bald head in the window. What a splendid target.

He has a rifle. Why is he standing and looking on calmly?

No orders.

And perhaps he was a village teacher in civilian life, perhaps a notary, a street sweeper

in Leipzig, a waiter in Cologne?

What would he do if I nodded to him? Waved my hand?

Perhaps he does not even know that things are as they are?

He may have arrived only yesterday, from far away....

Barnhemmet vid Sienna 16 i Warszawas getto var tom och tyst denna varma sommarkväll den 5 augusti 1942. Allt som återstod av Janusz Korczak var hans tråd-glasögon som låg på bordet ...

Jag funderar ofta på "objekt" efter Janusz Korczak. Objekt såsom hans penna eller en målning från hans rum, eller andra föremål av daglig användning. Jag vet bara två av Korczaks föremål som överlevde, hans glasögon och  hans ljusmikroskop. 

Korczak lämnade manuskriptet av sina så korta memoarer kvar på barnhemmet. Min far samlade de från golvet och tog de tillsammans med andra skrifter och Korczaks glasögon som låg på bordet nära hans säng, från Sienna 16 till Felek Grzyb som bodde i det Stora gettot.