Janusz Korczak


August 13, 2022

Janusz Korczak, full name Henryk Goldszmit, ps. "Stary Doktor" or "Pan Doktor" (born on July 22, 1878 or 1879 in Warsaw, died in August 1942, probably on August 7, 1942, in Treblinka) - Polish-Jewish doctor, educator, writer, journalist and social activist. A theoretician and practitioner of upbringing, creator of an original system of work with children, based on partnership, self-governing procedures and institutions, and stimulating self-education. Researcher of the world of children. He was a pioneer of activities in the field of educational diagnosis and a precursor of activities for the rights of human children. In 1926, he initiated the first periodical, mostly edited by children, "Mały Przegląd". As a Jew-Pole, he felt a double national identity.

Youth and education

Janusz Korczak was born in Warsaw to an assimilated Jewish family, the son of Józef Goldszmit (1844–1896) and Cecylia née Gębicka (1854 (?) - 1920). The Goldszmit family came from Lubelski, and the Gębicki family from Kaliski; one of the great-grandparents was a glazier, another, Maurycy Gębicki, a doctor - just like grandfather Hersz Goldszmit. Grandfather Józef (Adolf) Gębicki was a merchant and community worker from Kalisz. The graves of Janusz Korczak's father and his maternal grandparents (her grave has not been found) are located in the Jewish cemetery at ul. Okopowa in Warsaw. The Goldszmit family lived at ul. Bielańska 18 (probable place of birth), in 1881 she moved to Krakowskie Przedmieście 77, where the future writer lived with his parents, sister Anna and his maternal grandmother, Emilia (Mila) Gębicka, in 1883 they moved to ul. Miodowa 19, where they occupied seven rooms, then at 3 Krasińskich Square, 6 Nowosenatorska Street (now Moliera Street), at ul. Świętojerska and at ul. Leszno 18 town 10. He was brought up in Polish culture in the spirit of positivist slogans of social work. The father's illness had a big impact on the family's life; in the 1990s he was referred to a mental institution several times. Józef Goldszmit's illness (probably caused by syphilis) led to material problems. He died on April 26, 1896. From the mid-1980s, Korczak attended Augustyn Szmurła's elementary school on Freta Street, and then in 1891 he began his education at the eight-grade (including the entrance grade) 7th Government Gymnasium for Men, located at that time in a rented tenement house of Karol Minter at ul. Brukowa 16 (currently Sierakowskiego 4). Back then, the gymnasium had a philological profile with optional Polish language (its traditions are continued by Władysław IV Secondary School No. 8 at 38 Jagiellońska Street). As a junior high school student, he tutored to help support the family, and his mother, Cecylia Goldszmit, ran a training facility for students at Leszno and Nowosenatorska Streets. He began to learn less well and had to repeat one grade. In 1898 he passed his high school diploma and began studies at the Medical Faculty of the Imperial University in Warsaw, where he studied for six years, repeating the first year. He participated in lectures incl. Edward Przewoski (anatomy and bacteriology), Nikołaj Nasonov (zoology) and Aleksander Szczerbak (psychiatry). He attended the Flying University. His mentor was, among others Wacław Nałkowski.


On March 23, 1905, after listening to a five-year course in medical science and passing the applicable examination, he received a medical diploma. In June 1905, he was drafted into the Russian army in the Russo-Japanese war and went to the Far East, where he served as a doctor in an ambulance train. He returned to Warsaw at the end of March 1906. In the years 1905–1912 he worked as a pediatrician at the Hospital for Children. Bersohn and Bauman. As the so-called the local doctor used the official apartment in the hospital and was at the disposal of the sick at any time. Receive