The website Polona.pl has recently made available one of the strangest journalistic experiments undertaken in interwar Europe. Over the preceding decades, the archival issues of the Mały Przegląd (MA-wy PSHUH-glond, meaning The Little Review) newspaper lay hidden on microfilm, but the entirety of its content has recently been digitalised.
To this day, The Little Review remains one of history’s most unconventional journalistic phenomena. Its story begins with a man named Henryk Goldszmit, known to the world under his nom de plume, Janusz Korczak. Korczak achieved relative fame during his lifetime for his work as a children’s author and educator as well as pediatrician. It is the circumstances surrounding his death, however, that earned him worldwide recognition: when offered a chance to escape, the doctor refused to abandon the children of the orphanage which he was running, and accompanied them to be executed in the Nazi concentration camp of Treblinka.
During the twenties and thirties, there existed in Polish a Jewish intelligentsia newspaper called Nasz Przegląd (Our Review). In 1926, Korczak, who was at the time already director of the Jewish Orphanage in Warsaw, created Mały Przegląd/The Little Review as a free insert to Nasz Przegląd/Our Review. The leaflet was reminiscent of any given newspaper, with one significant exception: it was entirely written by and for children.
Watch Polish writer Józef Hen, who had his literary debut in The Little Review, reminisce his experience.
The doomed little writers covered a variety of topics, ranging from intimate essays on their first drag of cigarette smoke to relevant and critical comments on the increasingly worrisome rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, all of which was edited by Korczak.
The Little Review from September 1st 1939 - read the last issue here
From the article Pierwszy papieros – opowiadanie tragiczne/ First Cigarette – a tragic tale:
We were four boys: Władek, Rysiek, Julek and I – and everyday we came up with some new way of entertaining ourselves. But lately it seemed as if our repertoire had run out. (...) Władek, the oldest among us, said: - Listen guys, I have an idea.
We watched Władek with curiosity. Finally one of us had an idea! And it should be said that Władek always had the best ideas.
In a letter published under a column entitled Dziewczynki marzą/Girls Dream, Sabina writes:
I want to travel in deserted and thorny lands full of wilderness and danger. I want to travel under thunder and lightning. I want to meet lions, crocodiles and wild animals. I want to be their goddess.
From the article Antysemityzm w szkole / Anti-Semitism in School:
In schools there are often incidents when teachers discourage students to buy from Jewish merchants, and so forth. (...) When it comes to school authorities, they behave passively towards the wide majority of anti-Semitic occurences.
Polish speakers will now be able to read the entirety of the 675 issues published between 1926 and 1939. For more on Janusz Korczak, read his biography.
Source: Polona.pl, based on the Polish article by Mikołaj Gliński, edited by LB, 10/01/2014