A Field of Buttercups by Walter L. Newton. Available for workshops or
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A Field of Buttercups recounts the life story of
Warsaw ghetto during the invasion of Poland.
(from the prologue)
(When the lights come up or the curtains open we see, from right to left, 3 actors holding up Polish coffins paintings in front of their faces. From right to left these characters are Adam, Korczak and Stefa The coffin paintings must be real representations of the actual historical figures, not of the actors playing the parts. The actors speak their lines from behind the paintings. The railroad tracks of the mural are lit.)
Reminiscences make a sad, depressing drama. Artist, scholars, politicians and great leaders of men-all of them start out with ambitious plans, resolute actions, aggressive bold moves. They climb higher and higher, stage by stage toward their objective.
Then comes fatigue, still moving but with diminished zeal and they find that the only thing they had achieved is more graying hair. And then the young come along, strong of race, convinced in ideals, all of the details worked out. And everything around you tells you that your sun has set. Reformers come to a bad end. Such is the order of life.
I was the son of a madman. a assimilated Jew, a Pole first.
By 1900 I had become a well-known writer, writing under the name of Janusz
Korczak. I also had a rising medical career, climbing higher and higher among
the elite of
Will I be harshly judged for what I did? Was I wrong? I can no longer speak for myself. Ashes are silent.
There is nothing left for the adults to do. Kings and
Pan Doctor was told once by a friend “Keep your mouth
shut if your not helping. Don’t criticize if you don’t know a
better way.” Many years later he took that to heart. I, Stefa Wilczynska
, ran a small shelter for children for the Orphans Aid Society. My sponsors,
the Eliasbergs, wanted to move the children from the humble shelter into a new
modern orphanage. In 1910 they asked Pan Doctor if he would accept the position
of Director. Pan Doctor had become despondent at the conditions in which
outcast children were living in
Pan Doctor asked me to be his Main Educator. He worked directly with the architects, detailing each aspect of the design. Every child would have a private locker for personal belongings. Rooms were spacious, outside were gardens and play-space. He envisioned the children holding their own courts to solve problems. The children would have their own newspaper. He felt that adults had lost the chance to govern the world. He saw inside each child the hope for the future.
Years later he wrote “out of a mad soul I forged a sane deed.”
Now the fires are dead. The monuments have been erected, the historians pontificate and reality has become a blur. I stood by him throughout. At what point did Pan Doctor realize he had been mistaken?
I, Adam Czerniakow was the chairman of the Jewish Council in
I was critical of the Jews who took advantage of others, the informers, the extortionist and common thieves.
But my victories were small. At times I saw nothing of my labors… not one positive step. The mountain gave forth a mouse.
I had ambitious plans, resolute actions. I made aggressive bold moves.
Many times I spoke to Korczak my concerns about the children of the ghetto.
I suffered beatings and insults as long as I was able. I stood by my post.
The last time I saw Korczak he told me “There is no way to make a whole race of people simply disappear… the world would never allow the Germans to do that.”
How could he be so wrong?