Thursday, May 24, 2018

Janusz Korczak was born Henryk Goldszmit to a Jewish family in Warsaw, in 1878 or 1879. - This year is 140th anniversary of Korczak's birth.

The photograph of 10 years old Henryk Goldszmit (Janusz Korczak) from the first edition of his book "King Matt the First". He used his own picture as a child for the frontispiece of the book, with this explanation to his young readers: When I was the little boy you see in the photograph, I wanted to do all the things that are in this book. But I forgot to, and now I'm old. I no longer have the time or the strength to go to war or travel to the land of the cannibals. I have included this photo because it's important what I looked like when I truly wanted to be a king, and not when I was writing about King Matt
JB Lifton described this photography: Korczak in the studio is sitting stiffly on a bench next to a potted plant, in a jacket and high stiff white collar with a bow, he looks, not at us, but out past the camera into some distant space of his own-a far gaze that Korczak would take with him through life. He is both there and not there. One hand rests lightly in his lap; the other grips the corner of the bench as if the boy is waiting to take off the moment the signal comes.

The very first known document connected with Korczak is the one from the year 1881 from the Jewish Community in Warsaw where Korczaks name Goldszmit Henryk is written in Russian: Гольдшмитъ Генрикъ.
Janusz Korczak was born Henryk Goldszmit to a Jewish family in Warsaw, in 1878 or 1879.

His father failed to register his birth and registered him first in 1881, hence the uncertainty. At that time numerous peoples registered their children several months, sometimes even years later and often the children knew about it as they were celebrating the birthdays, not on the day they had stated in their birth certificate.

Korczak wrote about it on July 21, 1942:
Tomorrow I am finishing sixty-three or sixty-four years. My father did not arrange with my birth certificate for a few years (Jutro kończę sześćdziesiąt trzy albo sześćdziesiąt cztery lat(a). Ojciec przez parę lat nie wyrabiał mi metryki..).

The very first known document (photo above) is from the Jewish Community in Warsaw written in Russian. This document was from the time when Korczak parents moved from 18 Bielańska street where he was probably born to 77 Krakowskie Przedmieście.

I the dedication of his book King Matt the First for Stefa Wilczynska, Korczak wrote in the third line"...he lost his birth certificate in the country of Bum-Drum" (October 25th, 1922).

In the dedication of his book King Matt the First for Stefa Wilczynska, Korczak wrote in the third line about himself "...he lost his birth certificate in the country of Bum-Drum" October 25th, 1922).

In the later document in the Russian Army Archives most common is the year 1878, however, 1879 appears in one document.
Registration card of Henryk Goldszmit - Janusz Korczak from the time in the Polish Army
The most known document is the questionnaire from the Warsaw Ghetto where there is the year 1878 and also 1879 within the parenthesis. Jewish Physicians of the Warsaw Ghetto were obliged to submit the personal questionnaires in 1940. Janusz Korczak filed his personal questionnaire on September 20th, 1940.

Korczak´s questionnaire from September 20, 1940, with the photograph. Concerning the date of birth, he wrote the year 1878 but also 1879 within the parenthesis. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

The month of May is cold this year, And tonight is the quietest of all nights wrote Korczak in 1942

A few weeks after Bloody Friday*, Janusz Korczak sat up in bed and turned to the diary.
He wrote:
The month of May is cold this year, And tonight is the quietest of all nights. it is five in the morning. The little ones are asleep. There are actually two hundred of them. In the east wing-Madame Stefa, and I in the west-in the so-called 'isolation ward.' "

Later he wrote:
It is half past six.
In the dormitory someone shouts:
"Boys, time for a bath" get up!" I put away my pen. Should I get up or not? It is a long time since I have had a bath. Yesterday I killed a louse I found on myself without batting an eye-with one dexterous squeeze of the nail-a louse.
If I have time, I shall write a eulogy to a louse. For our attitude toward this fine insect is unjust and unfitting.
An embittered Russian peasant once declared: " A louse is not like a man, it will not suck up every last drop of blood."

* Bloody Friday - April 18th, 1942, an execution of printers and distributors of Ghetto undercover press. Emanuel Ringelblum blames Kohn and Heller that were coworking with Germans.