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Korczak (1990)

Unrated | | Biography, Drama, War | 6 May 1990 (Poland)
Account of the last days of life of the legendary Polish pedagogue Janusz Korczak and his heroic dedication to protecting Jewish orphans during the war. Jewish doctor Henryk Goldszmit, ... See full summary »


Andrzej Wajda
1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Wojciech Pszoniak ... Henryk Goldszmit vel Janusz Korczak
Ewa Dalkowska ... Stefania 'Stefa' Wilczynska
Teresa Budzisz-Krzyzanowska ... Maryna Rogowska-Falska
Marzena Trybala ... Estera
Piotr Kozlowski ... Heniek
Zbigniew Zamachowski ... Ichak Szulc
Jan Peszek ... Max Bauer
Aleksander Bardini ... Adam Czerniaków
Maria Chwalibóg ... Czerniaków's wife
Andrzej Kopiczynski ... Dyrektor w Polskim Radiu
Krystyna Zachwatowicz ... Szloma's mother
Jerzy Zass Jerzy Zass ... German wachman on the bridge
Wojciech Klata ... Szloma
Michal Staszczak Michal Staszczak ... Józek
Agnieszka Krukówna ... Ewka (as Agnieszka Kruk)


Account of the last days of life of the legendary Polish pedagogue Janusz Korczak and his heroic dedication to protecting Jewish orphans during the war. Jewish doctor Henryk Goldszmit, known also as Janusz Korczak, is a man of high principles. He is unafraid of shouting at German officers and frequently has to be persuaded to save his own life. His orphanage, set up in a cramped school in the Warsaw ghetto, provides shelter to 200 homeless kids. Putting his experimental educational methods into practice, he installs a kind of children's self-government, whose justice is in a big contrast to what is happening in the outside world. Right in front of the school, dozens of kids are dying or being killed everyday and their naked bodies lie on the street unattended. Ghetto's mayor assures Korczak that the orphanages will be saved. Korczak raises food and money for the orphanage from the rich Jews. In the final roundup he refuses to accept a Swiss passport and boards the train to Treblinka ... Written by Polish Cinema Database <http://info.fuw.edu.pl/Filmy/>

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Biography | Drama | War


Unrated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The play performed by the children in the orphanage is "The Post Office" by Rabindranath Tagore. See more »


Henryk Goldszmit vel Janusz Korczak: Death is easy and life is terribly difficult.
Józek: Do children have the right to die?
Henryk Goldszmit vel Janusz Korczak: Of course. They often die with more dignity than adults
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Edited into Screen Two: Korczak (1993) See more »

User Reviews

Maintaining human dignity
28 August 2002 | by krasikSee all my reviews

The Doctor strikes one as a solid man - man of courage, unbreakable. Yet to the entreaty of the resistance movement, he says "I have no dignity. I have 200 children." What are we to think of his ultimate actions in walking his children into the death trains? Wajda seems to give these final actions an air of honor, and a dreamlike finale scene, but we must reflect what these children would suffer upon their peaceful entrance to those cars.

What is needful, above all else is to remain living. But living as human beings, not slaves, victims of sexual and sadistic perverts, cattle. Where do we see the dignity of the human spirit in this film? We see it in the doctor and in the resistance fighters, perhaps in some of the kids. All others are broken spirits, hollow remnants of humans. Anything is worthwhile if it will maintain man's humanity in such times. They should have sang, danced, created, or fought, killed, destroyed. In the resistance fighters that rush upon the scene so briefly, we see the sparkling eyes of men not bound by fear, free men. Korczak also remains free spiritually, refusing the armband, but we see that in his personal resistance he can only expect to be broken or killed by one of the many Germans that he'll encounter. He can expect to see his children hideously killed, and himself comforting them to no avail. Anything is good if it maintains the spirit. Perhaps training the children to fight would have been appropriate. Certainly no non-violent means of resistance are affective against the Nazi's. As Gandhi says, non-violent resistance does not work on machines and beasts. The Nazi's were machines.

It is tempting to condemn Korczak for his ultimate actions - thought it shows a pathetic tendency in him which runs throughout the film. He wants to give people a dignified death, to save children without sending the non-Jewish-looking one's to hide with Poles. Has he not shut himself to the truth - that truth which the escaped man yelled out on the streets before his death? "They are sending you to your death!" Korczak, the lover of children, leads them proudly to their cart. Had the resistance shot him as a conspirator and taken the children to be trained to fight, or disperse them to seek their own survival - would not this have been somehow better than aiding the Germans in a neat efficient murder of Jewish children?

**** 2010 Update **** Rereading this after so many years - I see the foolish strictness of my college years. No one can know, growing up in a peaceful luxurious time, the feelings of a man responsible for the lives of all those children. I give all respect and honor to Korczak, blessings on his name and memory for the torments endured and the good he did in his life.

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Release Date:

6 May 1990 (Poland) See more »

Also Known As:

Korcza See more »

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Poland See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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