As children', wrote Alice Raikes (Mrs. Wilson Fox) in The Times, January 22, 1932, 'we lived in Onslow Square and used to play in the garden behind the houses. Charles Dodgson used to stay with an old uncle there and walk up and down, his hands behind him, on the strip of lawn. One day, hearing my name, he called me to him saying, So you are another Alice. I am very found of Alices. Would you like to come and see something which is rather puzzling? We followed him into his house which opened, as ours did, upon the garden, into a room full of furniture with a tall mirror standing across one corner.' Now, he said giving me an orange, first tell me which hand you have got that in. The right I said. Now, he said, go and stand before that glass and tell me which hand the little girl you see there has got it in. After some perplexed contemplation, I said, The left hand. Exactly, he said and how do you explain that? I couldn't explain it, but seeing that some solution was expected, I ventured, If I was on the other side of the glass, wouldn't the orange still be in my right hand? I can remember his laugh. Well done, little Alice, he said. The best answer I've heard yet. I heard no more then, but in after years was told that he said that had given him his first idea for Through the Looking-Glass, a copy of which, together with each of his other books, he regularly sent me.
Lewis Carroll
Anticipating their calamity and fright when deportation day came (August 6, 1942) he [Henryk Goldszmit, pen name: Janusz Korczak] joined them aboard the train bound for Treblinka, because, he said, he knew his presence would calm them—You do not leave a sick child in the night and you do not leave children at a time like this. A photograph taken at the Umschlagplatz (Transshipment Square) shows him marching, hatless, in military boots, hand in hand with several children, while 192 other children and ten staff members follow, four abreast, escorted by German soldiers. Korczak and the children boarded red boxcars not much larger than chicken coops, usually stuffed with seventy-five vertical adults, though all the children easily fit. In Joshua Perle’s eyewitness account in The Destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, he describes the scene: A miracle occurred, two hundred pure souls, condemned to death, did not weep. Not one of them ran away. None tried to hide. Like stricken swallows they clung to their teacher and mentor, to their father and brother, Janusz Korczak.In 1971, the Russians named a newly discovered asteroid after him, 2163 Korczak, but maybe they should have named it Ro, the planet he dreamed of. The Poles claim Korczak as a martyr and the Israelis revere him as one of the Thirty-Six Just Men, whose pure souls make possible the world’s salvation. According to Jewish legend, these few, through their good hearts and good deeds, keep the too-wicked world from being destroyed. For their sake alone, all of humanity is spared. The legend tells that they are ordinary people, not flawless or magical and that most of them remain unrecognized throughout their lives, while they choose to perpetuate goodness, even in the midst of inferno.
Diane Ackerman