Dom Sierot

The former Orphanage on Jaktorowska Street – a place of great merit for Janusz Korczak

The Orphans’ Home was built on the initiative of the “Help for Orphans” Society at 92 Krochmalna Street (now 6 Jaktorowska Street). The building, designed by architect Henryk Stiefelman, was opened in 1912. It was then that Henryk Goldszmit, better known as Janusz Korczak – the director of the newly-built Orphans’ Home – and Stefania Wilczyńska – the head educator – introduced the first pupils there – 85 Jewish children.

The building was constructed from social contributions collected among Warsaw Jews by the “Help for Orphans” Society, which set up a Building Commission headed by Dr Isaac Eliasberg. The design of the building was the result of a competition. In the middle of 1911, the plans for the Orphans’ Home were approved; the author of the project was engineer Henryk Stifelman, a well-known architect and author of many Warsaw buildings designed in the modernist style. Later that year, the foundation stone was laid.

Dom Sierot

on 7 October 1912, Janusz Korczak – as the director of the Orphans’ Home – and Stefania Wilczyńska introduced the first children there, although the finishing work was still underway. The official opening of the institution, which began with a service and a speech by the preacher of the Great Synagogue on Tłomackie Street, Dr Samuel Abraham Poznański, with numerous guests in attendance, took place a year later. The building was designed to accommodate 106 children.

The Orphans’ Home shortly after its construction and today. Photo: “Help for orphans” diary – 1914 and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The new edifice had four floors. The ground floor housed a large recreation hall that also served as a dining hall. Next to it were located the classrooms and the office. The floors housed the pupils’ bedrooms and the room of Stefania Wilczyńska, who, together with Korczak, managed the Orphans’ Home without receiving any remuneration. Korczak lived until 1932 in the attic in a room hidden behind a characteristic mansard. The sanitary rooms were lined with terracotta and tiles, while the floors in the rest of the building were laid with oak parquet floors. Dutch tiles were laid on the roof.

The Orphanage circa 1920 and in 2024. Source: jimbaotoday.de and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The orphanage was a co-educational institution. Korczak implemented innovative pedagogical methods there. The children had their own self-government and expressed their opinions at meetings and in the newspaper. In the autumn of 1940, after the creation of the Warsaw ghetto, the Germans ordered that the orphanage be moved. Korczak then found a new room at 33 Chłodna Street in the building of the J. and M. Roesler State Commercial School for Men. The next move took place in the autumn of 1941. The Orphans’ Home then moved to 16 Sienna Street to the building of the Trade, Industrial and Office Workers’ Union of the City of Warsaw.

The house around 1935 and in 2024. Source: Central Judaica Database http://judaika.polin.pl/dmuseion and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski



In the summer of 1942, Janusz Korczak, Stefania Wilczyńska and their pupils were driven from Sienna to Umschlagplatz, from where they were taken to the German Nazi extermination camp in Treblinka and murdered. In 1943, the house was occupied by German institutions and it is probably due to this that the building mostly survived. After the war, the building was renovated but without reconstructing the attic, where Korczak’s room with its characteristic semi-circular window was located.

Reconstruction of the Orphans’ Home at 92 Krochmalna Street intended as a party school of the Polish Socialist Party in Warsaw. 1948 and 2024. Source: NAC – National Digital Archive www.nac.gov.pl/ and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The rebuilt house changed tenants, including housing a journalism school. In 1957, it was decided to dedicate it, after extensive reconstruction, once again to a care and educational institution – the J. Korczak Children’s Home No. 2. It also houses the Korczakianum – a laboratory that collects, researches, makes available and popularises materials documenting the life legacy of the famous writer, doctor, educator and social activist. In the courtyard is a bust of the patron sculpted by Xawery Dunikowski, unveiled in 1979.

Source: Korczakianum, sztetl.org.pl

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