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The Teacher of Warsaw–hope in the middle of despair

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The Teacher of Warsaw

by Mario Escobar

When a book leaves an impact on your soul after the covers are closed, you know you have read a treasure. I was a few chapters into The Teacher of Warsaw before I was captivated by Mario Escobar’s work of historical fiction. After I understood what this author with a master’s degree in Modern History had set out to share, I was repeatedly drawn back from my world into the sad and inspiring world of Janusz Korczak, a pediatrician and teacher with many talents who dedicated his life to the children in his orphanage. They suffered together as the Nazis made their lives and the lives of all Polish Jews a nightmare of starvation and deprivation. Thanks to Dr. Korczak and the dedicated group of tutors who worked alongside him, the children were given hope and taught to love even their enemies. Korczak was Jewish by heritage but had not been raised in a religious family. He admired and appreciated many things about the Jew Jesus and likened Him to the anticipated Messiah, but did not accept Him as the fulfillment of prophecies. Dr. Korczak described himself at various times as an atheist, an agnostic, and a seeker, but those around him would have been hard pressed to find a stronger, more sacrificial, more ethical, and more loving leader. In return the children loved him, and he was regarded with respect by all but the most evil of Nazis.

Dr. Korczak was encouraged by many, including Polish social worker Irena Sendler, to escape the Warsaw Ghetto and the extermination which was surely coming, but his answer was always the same: the children of the orphanage needed him and he would not abandon them. The Teacher of Warsaw is both horrifying and inspiring as it depicts the worst and the best of mankind and demonstrates the power of love.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction

Notes: 1. Translated from Spanish by Gretchen Abernathy.
2. Includes two sections that discuss the historical basis of the story, a timeline of the Warsaw Ghetto, and discussion questions for the reader.

Publication: June 7, 2022—Harper Muse

Memorable Lines:

“Can you think what would’ve happened to the boy had we not been passing by? Everything happens for a reason. Even the greatest misfortunes can become the sweetest blessings.”

“We labor to give them back their hope: but we cannot give what we do not possess. Therefore, be full of hope this morning. May your joy overflow because you do what you do out of love and service for the weakest ones. And when negative thoughts come to steal your peace and joy, don’t let them make a nest in your minds. We can’t avoid those kinds of thoughts, but we can keep them from controlling us.”

I had two hundred children whom I loved and who loved me. I was undoubtedly the richest man in the Warsaw ghetto.


  1. Carla says:

    The courage some people had to stand up for what is right, even to the dangers and loss of life is unfathomable. They had so much faith, love and hope in the face of so much evil. I want to read this book, but I know it will be a difficult one. Excellent review, Linda.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lghiggins says:

      I was hesitant going into the book, because there are so many WWII books being published, but I am finding that authors are discovering a niche that no one else has explored and running with it. That is certainly the case here. I had never heard of this inspiring man.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. WendyW says:

    What an inspirational story. The courage and self-sacrifice of the teacher and the tutors are amazing. Wonderful review, Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan says:

    Hi Linda! I saw a comment you made on Carla’s blog and decided I needed to come check out your blog. It’s wonderful! It looks like you and I have similar reading tastes. I’ll definitely be back to check out new posts.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] The Teacher of Warsaw–hope in the middle of despair […]

    Liked by 1 person

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