Roman Wroblewski Wasserman’s Review of Lea Lipiner’s Biography of Shlomo Nadel

To review a work when it is written by two authors, can present a dilemma.

The one author who tells the story, and the other who writes it.

I also belonged to the circle of those who heard directly from Shlomo, the story of his childhood and his young life.

Now reading it written in English, I can hear his voice, his intonations. For example, when speaking about Miss Stefa, he used specific intonations which are not easy to transform into words on paper.

Therefore, as I had already mentioned, I can detect the voices of two authors in this book. Despite the effort not to do so one easily detects Lea’s voice in the text. Just as Shlomo’s voice is easily distinguished.

Shlomo’s stories are fascinating when one can feel his child-like thoughts and observations which are original and unchanged by adult experience. Together with Shlomo we travel the Orphan Home in its entirety. Starting from the cellar where two cooks and the stove stoker hold reign, we journey from floor to floor till we reach the Doctor’s room in the attic.

In a similar photographic manner, Shlomo describes the summer camps of Rozyczka. There, one can feel the grains of sand crackling beneath one’s feet, as by night we march together with the children into the forest, having had broken beforehand into the pantry for our nocturnal snack.

It is precisely those “photographic descriptions in this book” that evoked my deepest emotion. There are only two or three other great photographic entries of the Orphan Home: those written by the Doctor and the children in Little Review and a detailed post-war description by a Bursary student, Ida Merzan.

I wasn’t thrilled with the change of names and the children’s last names in this book.

The writing should remain original and in Polish. Maybe I am overly sensitive in this matter but the German version of the name: Heinrich Goldszmit is not to my taste.

The book should be translated into Polish as an important work documenting  the pedagogy of Dr. Korczak.


Translated from the Polish by Lillian Boraks-Nemetz

Roman Wasserman Wroblewski is an author of