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

Random. Sept. 2019. 400p. bibliog. index. notes. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781524701208.
Gr 7 Up–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.
VERDICT This fascinating work will terrify and educate readers about the dangers of autocracy and racism. Highly recommended for all young adult collections.

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