Janusz Korczak is a Pole from an assimilated Jewish family, but not a stranger to us either: he was born in the Russian Empire, served in the Russian army, and as a doctor participated in the Russo-Japanese and First World Wars. Only, speaking of Korczak, you involuntarily start not from the beginning, but from the end. From August 7, 1942.
On that day, in the Treblinka extermination camp, two hundred children were going to the gas chamber - the whole orphanage from the Warsaw ghetto. Janusz Korczak, the founder and director of the orphanage, could stay in Warsaw: this right was procured for him by the Judenrat (the self-governing body of the ghetto). And among the non-Jewish population, the teacher had friends who promised to hide him. The latter is said to have been offered help by an SS officer who read Korczak's story "King Matt the First" as a child. But only Janusz himself could be saved, the children were doomed.
And he refused. “I already know that I must die,” he wrote in his diary shortly before his death. - So, what is next? They don't die more than once, do they? " Together with his pupils, rejected by this insane and indifferent to suffering world, Korczak went to execution. I went first so that the children were less afraid. I carried the smallest two in my arms. Distracting attention, I told them a fairy tale … Not all the details of the last days of the doctor's life are confirmed. Something, perhaps, is just a legend. From those legends that are composed about the saints.
He did not have his own children - his father went crazy, and Janusz never started a family. I was afraid that children might inherit mental illness. Pedagogy became the only meaning of his life. In 1911, he founded an orphanage in Warsaw for Jewish orphans. It was not easy, Korczak wrote: "I have the impression that refuse is sent here - both children and personnel from related institutions." But the orphanage worked on Krokhmalna Street for almost thirty years, until the Nazis who occupied Poland transferred the children to the ghetto. But even there, realizing where everything was going, the old and already very sick teacher looked for money for food for the pupils, did everything so that they could live their usual life.
Of course, the voluntary ascent to Golgotha illuminated the pages of his books - they cannot be perceived simply as text. This is the very case when an act is immeasurably more important than words. But if you still try to distract yourself from the fate of the author, then you see: this is an intelligent, subtle and completely modern pedagogy. Well, isn’t this advice relevant: “Do not expect your child to be the way you are, or the way you want. Help him become not you, but himself."
Janusz considered the idea that pedagogy is a science about a child and not about a person as a gross mistake. But his words simply about life: "I exist not to be loved and admired, but to act and love myself." Korczak was not religious, did not belong to any denomination. He believed in effective, energetic love for a child, to which he devoted not only his life, but also his death. A wise teacher and determined person. Saint Janusz Korczak.