From National Book Award Finalist Albert Marrin comes the moving story of Janusz Korczak, the heroic Polish Jewish doctor who devoted his life to children, perishing with them in the Holocaust.
Janusz Korczak was more than a good doctor. He was a hero. The Dr. Spock of his day, he established orphanages run on his principle of honoring children and shared his ideas with the public in books and on the radio. He famously said that "children are not the people of tomorrow, but people today." Korczak was a man ahead of his time, whose work ultimately became the basis for the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
Korczak was also a Polish Jew on the eve of World War II. He turned down multiple opportunities for escape, standing by the children in his orphanage as they became confined to the Warsaw Ghetto. Dressing them in their Sabbath finest, he led their march to the trains and ultimately perished with his children in Treblinka.
But this book is much more than a biography. In it, renowned nonfiction master Albert Marrin examines not just Janusz Korczak's life but his ideology of children: that children are valuable in and of themselves, as individuals. He contrasts this with Adolf Hitler's life and his ideology of children: that children are nothing more than tools of the state.
And throughout, Marrin draws readers into the Warsaw Ghetto. What it was like. How it was run. How Jews within and Poles without responded. Who worked to save lives and who tried to enrich themselves on other people's suffering. And how one man came to represent the conscience and the soul of humanity.
Filled with black-and-white photographs, this is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose compassion in even the darkest hours reminds us what is possible.
Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish pediatrician and writer, established a home for orphans in 1912 and cared for Jewish children throughout both world wars. Much more than a biography, Marrin's introduction to this heroic figure offers an exhaustive study of WWII in Poland and Germany. In straightforward, descriptive language, Marrin (Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II) explores a vast array of subjects linked to the war, including the history of Palestine and of Judaism in Poland, and he devotes a significant number of pages to a biographical portrait of Adolf Hitler and the growth of Nazism. The narrative, accompanied by black-and-white photos, conveys the horrors of wartime with gruesome details, such as Nazis throwing infants into the air for target practice, and includes tangential subjects, such as sterilization laws in America. Korczak is depicted as a passionate humanitarian with an extraordinary respect and love for children, and as one whose activism was the seed of the human rights movement in particular, the rights of children. He is often absent from the book, though, as Marrin discusses, in great detail, other topics connected to WWII. Still, there is much to learn and contemplate in this dense yet accessible examination. Ages 12 up.