A Light in the Darkness: Janusz Korczak, His Orphans, and the Holocaust

By: Albert Marrin

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. 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.

Notes. Selected sources. Index. Black-and-white photographs and reproductions.

ISBN: 9781524701215

JLG Release: Dec 2019


Sensitive Areas: Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War, Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism, Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism
Topics: Janusz Korczak (1878–1942) , World War II (1939–1945) , Warsaw, Poland , Jewish Holocaust (1939–1945) , Ghettos , Orphanages , Resistance to government , Twentieth-century history of Germany , Anti-Nazi movements

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Awards & Honors

2020 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award Finalist
YALSA Award Honoree - 2020

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

Readers of Marrin’s new biography will learn that the only memorial stone in the cemetery of the razed Treblinka extermination camp is that of Janusz Korczak (the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit). The outline of his life is sketchy, as most documents have been lost. Korczak was a pediatrician who served Poland in three wars and volunteered for World Readers of Marrin’s new biography will learn that the only memorial stone in the cemetery of the razed Treblinka extermination camp is that of Janusz Korczak (the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit). The outline of his life is sketchy, as most documents have been lost. Korczak was a pediatrician who served Poland in three wars and volunteered for World War II. Nicknamed the Old Doctor, he is primarily known for his work caring for orphans in the Warsaw ghetto. He believed that children should be treated with respect and as individuals, rather than as objects to be molded by adults. Korczak protected the orphans through the Holocaust, turning down several opportunities to escape. On August 5, 1942, a Nazi patrol rounded up everyone in the Dom Sierot orphanage and marched them to trains headed to Treblinka. None survived. In a larger sense, this volume is about Hitler, his racist agenda, and his attitude toward children (and humanity in general), which stands in sharp contrast to the philosophy of Korczak. Marrin describes the horrors of the Holocaust in graphic detail. Often disturbing black-and-white photos enhance the text. Extensive notes for each chapter, accompanied by a comprehensive bibliography and an excellent index, make this book a good research source. This fascinating work will terrify and educate readers about the dangers of autocracy and racism. Highly recommended for all young adult collections.

Horn Book

Janusz Korczak was the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit (1878–1942), a Jewish doctor, author, and orphanage director who famously championed the rights of children and who perished at the Treblinka extermination camp. Korczak is the very picture of benevolence, operating his orphanage in a progressive, humane, and democratic way. Despite the deprivat Janusz Korczak was the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit (1878–1942), a Jewish doctor, author, and orphanage director who famously championed the rights of children and who perished at the Treblinka extermination camp. Korczak is the very picture of benevolence, operating his orphanage in a progressive, humane, and democratic way. Despite the deprivations of the Warsaw Ghetto, Korczak remains focused on the welfare of his charges, even as he leads them with great dignity to Treblinka. In typical Marrin fashion (most recently Uprooted, rev. 1/17), the scope of the narrative expands to include various digressions into such topics as Polish history and politics, WWII, and the Jewish diaspora, to both illuminate history and provide occasional respite from the unrelenting (and often vividly described) cruelty of the Holocaust. A wide selection of primary-source quotes and black-and-white photographs provides further witness to the genocide. Source notes, bibliography, and index are appended.

Book Details

ISBN

9781524701215

First Release

December 2019

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

B

Trim Size

9" x 6"

Page Count

400

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 1010L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Library edition with trade jacket added

Publisher

Knopf

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War, Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism, Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism

Topics

Janusz Korczak (1878–1942), World War II (1939–1945), Warsaw, Poland, Jewish Holocaust (1939–1945), Ghettos, Orphanages, Resistance to government, Twentieth-century history of Germany, Anti-Nazi movements,

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