In Orphans' Twilight, Memories of a Doomed Utopia During the Holocaust





TEL AVIV — They are in their 80s now, the last living links to Janusz Korczak, the visionary champion of children’s rights who refused to part with his young charges even as they were herded to the gas chambers.

When they speak of him, the old men are young again: transported to their days in his orphanage, a place they remember as a magical republic for children as the Nazi threat grew closer.

“It was a utopia,” said Shlomo Nadel, 85, one of the surviving orphans who managed to flee Poland before the Jewish orphanage was forced into the ghetto.

Mr. Nadel and the others were witness to life on 92 Krochmalna Street in Warsaw, the orphanage that became a laboratory for Korczak’s democratic educational theories, boasting a court and parliament run by the children.

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