- November 13, 2012
“Janusz Korczak – Reformer of the World” exhibition
The Jewish Culture and Information Centre in Vilnius is staging an exhibition titled “Janusz Korczak – Reformer of the World” which presents us a figure and activity of that eminent educationalist and friend of children. The exhibition is connected with a display of 24 oil paintings by Małgorzata Chmielowska, who with her characteristic sensitivity depicted scenes form life and culture of Jewish community.
During his opening speech Janusz Skolimowski, an ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Lithuania, referred to the hero of the exhibition, Janusz Korczak, and emphasized his uniqueness, complexity and internal beauty.
“This extremely sensitive to children’s fate man called the first ombudsman for children in Poland and at the same time an energetic, full of innovative ideas and literary creativity activist is a unique phenomenon that deserves our special attention.” said the ambassador.
Radek Pech, an ambassador of the Czech Republic to Lithuania, and Anne Hall, a Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States in Lithuania, were present at the commencement of the exhibition. Representatives of Polish and Jewish social organizations and Polish and Lithuanian media were present at the exhibition as well.
Janusz Korczak (in fact Henryk Goldszmit) is a complex character, an experimenter in a way of activity and thinking who changed set patterns. He was a Polish doctor of Jewish descent, intellectual fighting for the rights of children and called the first Polish ombudsman for children, social activist supporting the idea of children’s self-governance, writer of children’s literature, journalist and playwright, pioneer in the field resocialization of juveniles and care for difficult children. In his opinion, a child is a proper human and deserves our respect. Korczak was a co-founder and director of an orphanage for Jewish children at ul. Krochmalna inWarsaw. The institution was later moved to the Ghetto. In his orphanage the Old Doctor introduced the idea of a peer tribunal for children and used the form of theatre as a pedagogic tool.
In 1926 Korczak started the first magazine prepared mainly by children, “Mały Przegląd”. He considered himself Jew but the universal dimension of humanity was the most important concept for him. He was an officer of the Polish Army. Last three months of his life he spent in Warsaw Ghetto where he was writing a diary in his free time. He had an opportunity to escape to the Aryan part of the city using fake documents but he refused to leave the Ghetto. The Old Doctor did not leave his young charges.
He died together with his children in a gas chamber in Treblinka extermination camp in 1942. He voluntarily accompanied them to death. He led this tragic parade. He held the youngest child in his arms and led another child by the hand.
Tłumaczenie Karolina Rolka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Karolina Rolka the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.