On Sunday, August 9, 2015 Yad Vashem will mark 73 years since the deportation to Treblinka of Janusz Korczak, Stefa Wilczynska, and the children of their orphanage, from the Warsaw Ghetto. The memorial ceremony will be held at 16:00 at Janusz Korczak Square at Yad Vashem with the participation of a representative of the Polish Embassy to Israel, Ms. Magdalena Pieńkos, Holocaust survivors from Korczak's orphanage in Warsaw, dozens of members of HaMachanot HaOlim youth movement and members of the Janusz Korczak Association in Israel.
“Just as the sea gives a child a toy - a boat, so the wind has to give him a kite,” -- Janusz Korczak, The Religion of the Child
At the conclusion of the ceremony HaMachanot HaOlim youth group members will fly dozens of kites to convey an educational message of respect, love and equal rights.
Naama Galil, Director, Guiding Department, Commemoration and Public Relations Department at Yad Vashem
Batia Gilad, Chairman of the International Janusz Korczak Association
Ido, Formansky, Representative of HaMachanot HaOlim
Janusz Korczak was the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit, a renowned Polish-born doctor, author and educator. Born in Warsaw, Korczak dedicated his life to caring for children, particularly orphans. He believed that children should always be listened to and respected, and this belief was reflected in his work. Prior to the war, he ran an orphanage, lectured in universities and wrote extensively. Many books and essays have been written about Korczak's educational philosophy, according to which childhood is not a preparatory period of life, but full of meaning in and of itself. As such he believed children deserved full rights and respect and that each child was a unique individual, with his own talents and needs. In 1912, Korczak became the director of a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw. When World War II broke out in 1939, Korczak first refused to accept the German occupation and heed their regulations (consequently spending time in jail). However, when the Jews of Warsaw were forced to move into a ghetto, Korczak refocused his efforts on the children in his orphanage. Despite offers from Polish friends to hide him on the "Aryan" side of the city, Korczak refused to abandon the children.
Stefa Wilczynska was born in 1886 in Poland and completed her studies at the University of Liège, Belgium. In 1909, she met Korczak and the two began working together. When World War I began, Korczak was recruited and Stefa remained in charge of running the orphanage, which had expanded and now housed some 150 children. In 1935, she visited Eretz Israel and lived at Ein Harod until 1939. With the Nazi occupation, the members of Ein Harod arranged for to leave Poland, but she refused, and moved into the ghetto along with Dr. Korczak and the children. On August 5, 1942, during a 2-month wave of deportations from the ghetto, the Nazis rounded up Korczak, Wilczynska and the 200 children along with the orphanage staff. He and Stefa never abandoned the children, even to the very end. Korczak, Wilczynska and the children were sent to Treblinka, where they were all murdered.