The Good Doctor of Warsaw
By Elizabeth Gifford
Published by Atlantic Books
Publication date: February 2018
'You do not leave a sick child alone to face the dark and you do not leave a child at a time like this.' Warsaw, 1940. The Jewish ghetto is under the Nazis' brutal control. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children slowly starve within the walls. But while all around is darkness, one man brings hope, caring for the ever-increasing number of destitute orphans in the face of unimaginable conditions. And, torn apart as the noose tightens around the ghetto, how will one young couple's love survive the terrible tests of wartime? Half a million people lived in the Warsaw ghetto. Less than one percent survived to tell their story. This novel is based on the true accounts of Misha and Sophia, and on the life of one of Poland's greatest men, Dr Janusz Korczak.
Powerful, harrowing and ultimately uplifting. Elisabeth Gifford has achieved an extraordinary blend of fact and fiction.
– Andrew Taylor
With powerful themes of loss, hope and what it means to be human, The Good Doctor of Warsaw is a brave, moving and important book with a message we need now as much as ever.
– Katherine Clements
Enjoyment is something of a nebulous term applied to a book of this nature but for want of a better word I did enjoy this book and I'm humbled to be educated about Dr. Korczak from a book written in such an easy, accessible style.
Elisabeth Gifford has an MA in creative writing from RHUL. Her first historical novel Secrets of the Sea House was shortlisted for the Crown debut historical fiction award.
Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish Dr Barnardo, was an early pioneer of child welfare and empathetic education. He signed the first Children’s Bill of Rights in Geneva, 1927, still in use today. He published widely for children and adults, including The Child’s Right to Respect, children novels King Matt the First and Kaytek the Wizard, and broadcast on Polish radio. He ran two world famous children homes in Warsaw. Korczak understood that a society that decides not to care for the child is in danger of flying apart, which is what happened when the Nazi Reich decided to murder 4,000 children in one day in the Warsaw ghetto where Korczak’s orphanage stood out as a beacon of love and respect. Korczak was offered his escape, but refused to leave his children and stayed with them when they were taken on the trains to comfort them, and died with them at Treblinka. He educational teachings are still followed across the world today. His story is also fictionalised Jim Shepard's The Book of Aron.