Janusz Korczak: Monday Night!

From Betty Jean Lifton’s biography, citing Korczak’s memoirs of his years working in the Jewish Orphanage of Warsaw (How to Love a Child):

An eight-year old boy woke with a toothache.  Grabbing Korczak’s hand, he spilled out his anguish: “…then my mother died.  Then I was sent to my grandmother, but she also died.  Then I was taken to my aunt’s but she wasn’t home.  It was cold.  My uncle took me in. Very poor.  I was hungry.  His children were sick.  He put me in the storage room so I wouldn’t catch anything. My teeth always hurt at night.  Then a woman took me for a short time, but she walked me to a square and left me.  It was dark. I was afraid.  Boys started to push me.  The a policeman took me to the station.  Everyone was Poles.  They sent me to my aunt.  She shouted at me, and made me swear not to tell you everything that’s happened to me.  Can I stay here? I can? Aren’t you cross with me for throwing the ball on the grass? I didn’t know it was forbidden.”

“He fell asleep,” Korczak noted.  “It was strange, but for a brief moment I definitely saw an aura of light around his tired eight-year old head.  I had seen such a phenomenon only once before.” And he added: “Even as I write this, I know that no one will understand.  It is impossible unless one has been in large orphanage dormitory in the still of the night.”


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