Warsaw orphans leave for Treblinka

People climb up into the freight cars during the deportations from Warsaw.

Whilst many in the Warsaw ghetto were desperately trying to evade the deportations there were also those who were resigned to their fate. The orphanage run by Janusz Korczak was listed for evacuation on the 5th August.

It is believed that the Nazis wanted to send Korczak alone to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, the ‘model’ camp where they kept some prominent Jews in relatively decent conditions as a smokescreen for their other activities. Janusz Korczak refused to be separated from his children.

In a move that was witnessed by many in the ghetto he did his best to ensure their last journey was as trouble free as possible:

I happened to see Janusz Korczak and his orphans leaving the ghetto. The evacuation of the Jewish orphanage run by Janusz Korczak had been ordered for that morning. The children were to have been taken away alone. He had the chance to save himself, and it was only with difficulty that he persuaded the Germans to take him too.

He had spent long years of his life with children and now, on this last journey, he could not leave them alone. He wanted to ease things for them.

He told the orphans they were going out in to the country, so they ought to be cheerful. At last they would be able to exchange the horrible suffocating city walls for meadows of flowers, streams where they could bathe, woods full of berries and mushrooms.

He told them to wear their best clothes, and so they came out into the yard, two by two, nicely dressed and in a happy mood. The little column was led by an SS man.

Wladyslaw Szpilman: The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45

Janusz Korczak was a world renowned educationalist. He stayed with the children from his orphanage on their final journey.

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