Dr Janusz Korczak

Dr. Janusz Korczak (Real name Heinrich Goldschmidt)

(1879 – 1943)

Dr. Janusz Korczak was a great and caring man. He was a paediatrician, but first and foremost he was a humanitarian. Besides being a doctor, he was also a writer. Although he could be quite abrupt with adults, he had all the time in the world for children. He gave his time, patience and warmth to the children (orphans) he cared for.  When he was 30 years old he stopped his medical practice and opened an orphanage for Jewish children who had been orphaned or abandoned. Some of these children had already seen the horrors of life and Dr Korczak took these children in a cared for them, teaching them about discipline and caring for themselves.

He respected his children and insisted that each child had a right to a locked drawer to keep their “treasures ” in.

He taught them that they had a voice and it was important to be heard. That they weren’t just nobody’s to just be forgotten about.

He organised plays and concerts for the children, he tried to show them the good things in life that not everything was bad. Even though these children had been scarred by death and horrors of life.

During WWll the orphanage was moved three times, the third time saw them placed into the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw Poland from where the SS began clearing out the Jewish people and sending them to the Concentration Camps (also known as Death Camps) in Poland. It is here that the Jews were sent to the gas chambers.

On the 5th August 1942, nearly 200 orphans were taken from the Warsaw ghetto to the trains to be transported to Treblinka, the death camp were they would be gassed. There was no crying or trying to hide, these children trusted their mentor and willing went with him, not knowing they would be going to their deaths. The doctor had told them that they would be going to the country where there was flowers and trees, out of the dirty ghetto. So these children were happy to leave, it must have been so hard for the doctor to keep up the front for the children. Knowing as he did what awaited them. The children were so happy that witnesses heard them singing on their way to the train. These children had gotten dressed in their best clothes for their trip to the country.

Dr Korczak voluntarily accompanied the children on their doomed journey. He was not required to do this but insisted on going with them, where he died along with his children in the gas chambers.

He was given the opportunity to save himself, but chose to die alongside his beloved children. Which he thought of as his own.

Even though there were stories about Dr. Korczak and his children surviving, there has never been any proof in the rumours.

There is a memorial to Dr. Korczak and his children at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.

– by Chevonne Nicholas, 10ENG

Buddha

Taken from the book “Lives of Saints” by Swami Sivananda (reproduced in various locations on the web):

“In the sixth century before the Christian era, religion was forgotten in India. The lofty teachings of the Vedas were thrown into the background. There was much priestcraft everywhere. The insincere priests traded on religion. They duped the people in a variety of ways and amassed wealth for themselves. They were quite irreligious. In the name of religion, people followed in the footsteps of the cruel priests and performed meaningless rituals. They killed innocent dumb animals and did various sacrifices. The country was in dire need of a reformer of Buddha’s type. At such a critical period, when there were cruelty, degeneration and unrighteousness everywhere, reformer Buddha was born to put down priestcraft and animal sacrifices, to save the people and disseminate the message of equality, unity and cosmic love everywhere.

Buddha’s father was Suddhodana, king of the Sakhyas. Buddha’s mother was named Maya. Buddha was born in B.C. 560 and died at the age of eighty in B.C. 480 which is a long time for those days.  On the birth of Siddhodana an astrologist claimed that when Siddhodana approached manhood he would become the monk Buddha “perfectly enlightened soul, for the salvation of mankind” so Suddhodana kept Siddhodana in a room so that he might like one of these objects and not leave it but this one time Siddhodana escaped and sore a crippled old man then a Monk came and helped him and he then realised that he would become old and he sore how sincere the monk was and at that moment he decided to become a monk.  When he tried he got rejected so he knew where not to go or what to do until a young village girl came and asked can I feed you sir and when she did as he finished his hunger was not full but he noticed a tree which became the Pipal Tree and he sat under there for days and nights chanting.  Once he finished he stood up and danced for 7 days and was fully enlightened.”

Buddha didn’t perform miracles but he did bring peace to a war torn country and many other people and he isn’t a God but a prophet who came to bring peace and wellbeing to his country.  Buddha isn’t a monstrous person he is the complete opposite and kind, gentle man who never raised his voice and was the wisest person in all the land.  Buddha is one of the best persons in all the land. He came before Jesus and didn’t do any miracles but what he did was spread peace all across his land even to the people who never met him and whenever people hear his name they feel a sense of relief.

– by Jesse Robinson, 10ENG

Fidel Castro

Fidel Alejandro Castro was born on August 13, 1926 in Cuba. He was brought up by wealthy parents and had five siblings. Fidel’s parents, both illiterate, were determined their children should receive a good education.  Fidel was sent to a Jesuit boarding school where he learnt discipline and soon showed that he was extremely intelligent. However even as a teenage Fidel was a rebellious boy, he helped organize a strike of sugar workers on his father’s plantation.

Fidel went on to become a lawyer in Havana, often taking on the cases of people who could not afford to pay him, leaving himself constantly short of money. Fidel’s experience as a lawyer made him extremely critical of the great inequalities in wealth that existed in Cuba. Fidel resented the wealth and power of the American businessmen who appeared to control the country.

In 1947 Fidel joined the Cuban People’s Party. Fidel was attracted to this new party’s campaign against corruption, injustice, poverty, unemployment and low wages. By 1952 he was a candidate for congress for the Cuban People’s Party. A powerful public speaker Fidel soon built up a following amongst the young members of the party.  The party was expected to win the election but during the campaign with the support of the armed forces General Batista took control of the country. For the Cuban People’s Party to gain power Fidel came to the conclusion that revolution was the only way.

By 1953 Fidel planed to overthrow Batista by attacking the Moncada Army Barracks with an armed group. The plan ended in disaster with eight of his group killed in the fighting and another eighty murdered by the army after they were captured. Fidel avoiding execution was put on trial and charged with organising an armed uprising. Using this opportunity Fidel made a speech about the problems of Cuba and how they could be solved, this speech later became a book entitled ‘History Will Absolve Me’. Fidel was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Fidel became famous in Cuba from the trial and the publication of the book. His attempted revolution had considerable support in the country.  Batista decided to release Fidel after he had served only two years of his sentence due to considerable pressure from the Cuban population. Castro left for Mexico where he began to plan another attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.

The Batista’s soldiers arrested, tortured and questioned many innocent people. Suspects, including children, were publicly executed then left hanging in the streets for several days as a warning to others who were considering joining Fidel.

Despite Batista having the backing of the United States government, Castro was confident he could beat him in a battle to rule Cuba. Castro’s troops began to march into the main towns and soon after Batista fled Cuba. In response the remaining government Generals attempted to rule, however Castro called for a general strike and the workers of Cuba supported him, forcing the military to accept their desire for change. As a result in 1959 Fidel Castro became Cuba’s new leader.

Castro’s government passed many new laws. Rent was cut for low paid workers by as much as 50 percent and land owned by Batista and his former ministers confiscated.   Cuba’s US owned Telephone Company was nationalised and land redistributed among peasants. Morally opposed to racism, drugs, prostitution and gambling, Castro abolished segregation laws in public places such as swimming pools and cemeteries, and passed laws to close down casinos and night clubs. He believed in education for all. In Cuba at this time particularly in poor rural areas, many people were illiterate and children did not attend school. Following the revolution Castro set about changing this. At Castro’s request students travelled to rural areas, teaching people to read and write. Eventually free education was made available to all Cubans. To help improve the health of the young the government introduced a free health service and began a mass inoculation program.

During the three years following the revolution a quarter of a million Cubans out of a population of six million left the country. Many were middle and upper class Cubans who found they were worse off financially as a result of Castro’s policies.  Whilst most Cubans who remained in the country supported him, many began to resent Castro. He did not keep his promise to hold free elections and was becoming less tolerant to those who disagreed with him. He sacked ministers and replaced them with people who were often young and inexperienced. Politicians who disagreed with him faced being arrested and considered as deviants, as were homosexuals who were often imprisoned.

Castro used his power to achieve many good things in Cuba including social welfare, universal education, almost guaranteed employment and quality health care. However his one- party state jailed those who opposed him, ruined the economy and led hundreds of thousands of Cubans to flee. This abuse of power has led to a government which controls every Cuban newspaper, television channel and radio station and restricts internet access. Castro used his power to avenge the torture and murder of hundreds of Cubans by the Batista government. He set up public tribunals where the people responsible were tried and executed. Whilst this pleased many Cubans, world opinion was divided and somewhat shocked.

Denied the right to vote against Castro and his party in free elections, anyone can be jailed for “social dangerousness” which does not need them to have committed any specific offence. Before coming to power Fidel Castro used his power to influence Cubans to have faith in him and support him and the revolution to overthrow the Batista government. Many Cubans kept their faith and belief in Castro right till the end of his political life, however this goodwill was not returned. Fidel Castro remained suspicious of not only other governments, but also of his own people for as long as he was in power. Castro’s health declined and in 2006 he transferred his political responsibilities to a younger brother.

– by Maddi Pecar

Eminem

‘One of the greatest artists of all time’ – the Rolling Stone

Marshall Mathers or Eminem was born on October 17, 1972, in Saint Joseph, Missouri. He was the only child of Deborah R. Nelson Mathers-Briggs and Marshall Bruce Mathers, Jr. His father abandoned the family when he was only 18 months old and was raised solely by his mother. Marshall moved from numerous cities in his childhood but eventually settled in Detroit in his teens. Marshall’s uncle, Ronald “Ronnie” Nelson (mentioned in many of his songs) first introduced him to hip-hop music at age 11 and from then on he frequently participated in freestyle ‘rap battles’ on the east side of Detroit.  Although he struggled at first he succeeded in a predominantly African-American industry at 17, gaining the respect of underground hip-hop audiences.

Eminem was signed to Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records in 1998 and worked with producer Dr. Dre one year later in 1999 to release his first major studio album, The Slim Shady LP. The album was a huge success becoming 4X platinum certified by the RIAA. Eminem used his new found power to tell realistic stories of his harsh personal life. Marshall was driven to be successful and popular in order to sell records, but he did that because he was trying to get away from a poor and disadvantaged life. The albums lyrics were extremely controversial, with constant references to drug use, sexual acts, mental instability and over-the-top violence. On the other hand he dealt with more serious themes of his life such as poverty, marital and family difficulties while responding to criticism. He became a social icon with influence over many people through his music. What he says in his songs delivers a message to young people, and they look up to him because he stuck to his goals, and made it. He was a beacon of hope for many people because he stayed true to himself and didn’t care what the critics were saying.

His second major album, The Marshall Mathers LP was released in May 2000 and smashed any previous records in the U.S. It sold 1.76 million copies in the first week becoming the fastest selling solo album in United States history. In his second single ‘The Way I Am’, he reveals to his fans the pressures from his record company to sell more records than he did in the Slim Shady LP. Eminem’s third single ‘Stan’ (which uses Dido’s ‘Thank You’) deals with his new found fame, taking on the persona of a deranged fan, (Stan) who kills himself at the end of the song. The song is listed by many as the greatest hip-hop song of all time, being ranked #3 on a list of the greatest rap songs in history by Q magazine. His songs use realistic story telling that deliver a message that touches the hearts of people worldwide. Eminem has travelled to the top of the music industry and is praised by people all over the world as “The King of Hip-Hop” – Rolling Stone. He has 13 Grammy Awards, has sold more than 86.5 million records worldwide to date, has totalled over 1 billion views on his official Vevo page on YouTube and has nearly 50 million likes on Facebook.

Eminem has inspired and influenced millions of people with his music. People criticise him for his ‘sickening’ and ‘childish’ lyrics when you only have to look into the meanings behind the songs to realise the power of his musical genius. People relate to him because he talks in real terms about struggles in life that many people have to face. They feel that he is speaking for them and this influences them, and that’s where he gets his real power from. He uses his power of influence for good by founding his own charity named The Marshall Mathers Foundation, assisting disadvantaged youth in his home town of Detroit and all over America. Eminem struggled through adversity and poverty to become one of the wealthiest and respected artists to date.

– by Matt Benic, 10ENG

Muhammad Ali

I hated every minute of training but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

A quote said by a very influential boxer by the name of Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali, an American man who was a world renowned Boxer, being World Heavyweight Champion 10 times, along with a gold medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

Muhammad Ali, originally know as Cassius Clay jnr. was born in Kentucky, USA on the 17th of January 1942. With self-motivation and self-belief Muhammad Ali made a name for himself, putting him in the position he is today. With a total of 61 fights, in his professional career, he had 56 wins, 37 of them by KO and only 5 losses; he is a true sporting champion. He wasn’t only a boxer but a poet too. Ali influenced people by the poetry he said, along with the belief he had in himself.

Muhammad Ali was directed to boxing by a local Louisville police officer and boxing coach after they encountered him fuming over the theft of his bicycle at the age of 12. In Ali’s amateur boxing career he won many titles such as: six Kentucky Golden Gloves, two national Golden Gloves, Amateur Athletic Union National Title and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics. Muhammad Ali also had an astonishing 100 wins to 5 losses in his amateur career.

One of Muhammad Ali’s influential times in his boxing career was when he threw his Olympic gold medal in the Ohio River. Ali did this because he was refused service at a ‘whites-only’ restaurant, even after he represented the country in the Olympics and won gold. This influenced people of all nationalities in the way he made a stand on something that was important to him and people look up to him because of that. Ali didn’t want to feel like a slave to white people and by him throwing his medal in the Ohio River was a symbol of what he believes in.

Power over people wasn’t an intention of Muhammad Ali but it was him getting power over himself and then giving advice. By Ali telling himself and the world he was the best was only to convince himself. It may be taken at arrogance but really it was for self-good. People followed him because of that, especially sports enthusiasts. On top of this Muhammad Ali used his poetry skills in a way to help people to achieve their goals not only in sport but also with life.

Some say Muhammad Ali was corrupt and plain stupid, but with his power Ali proved to himself and the world that he is the greatest boxer of all time and to show this, he was crowned in 1999 by Sports Illustrated the ‘Sportsman of the Century’. Ali has influenced people in many different ways all for the good, with his motivation coming from the determination and desperation to succeed from within. Muhammad Ali is a good influential, sporting legend with all good intentions.

– by Matty Gunn, 10ENG

Mark Zuckerberg

As the youngest billionaire in the world at only 27 years of age and ranking 9th in Forbes most powerful person, Mark Zuckerberg is in a position of power over all 800 million Facebook users worldwide. He is a computer programmer and internet entrepreneur who co-founded Facebook 7 years ago and has made it into the popular site it is today.

While studying at Harvard, Zuckerberg came up with this great idea of a social networking site that would be able to keep everyone on his campus in touch via the internet. It was originally ‘only a Harvard thing’ but since then it has spread rapidly. What he planned to only affect his classmates has turned into a multi-billion dollar, world-wide phenomenon. On February 4, 2004, he launched ‘thefacebook.com’ from his Harvard University dorm which was later changed to just ‘facebook.com’. He’s now the CEO and president of the site which has now become one of the biggest websites in the world. It is estimated that he currently has a net worth of $17.5 billion which is only expected to rise in years to come.

Some people believe he stole the idea of Facebook from the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss who also went to Harvard. They sued Zuckerberg for $140 million claiming that he broke a verbal agreement and that they were the ones who came up with the idea of a social networking site that they were going to call ‘ConnectU’. Although, it wouldn’t be the first of kind because there were already other social networking sites like MySpace around at that time.

He has built everything in his company from scratch and has earnt all of the power that he’s gained from it, managing not to abuse it either. He has loads of information about the hundreds of millions of Facebook users around the world that he could do anything he wants with, but he respects peoples’ privacy by putting privacy settings that he recommends to use. He could even be richer than he is at the moment if he wanted to. He could easily add more advertisements to the site to increase his profits but he doesn’t because he’s not greedy or power-hungry. He is purely focused on working towards a better site to make world communication more open and so everyone can have the chance to post their opinions. Zuckerberg says himself that ‘It’s not because of the amount of money. For me and my colleagues, the most important thing is that we create an open information flow for people.’

Overall, Mark Zuckerberg is a good person. He only intended for it to help a small amount of people communicate but it became the colossal site it is today which has transformed the internet. He never meant for it to hurt anyone or to steal anyone’s ideas. He created the site because it’s what he loves doing and he wanted to help people communicate more.

– by Katrina Palmer

William Shakespeare

1564-1616

Little is known about Shakespeare’s life. He was born in Stratford 1564 into a burgess of fluctuating fortunes. William attended a local grammar school and at the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway whom was some years his senior and already pregnant.

At some point he moved to London to begin his career. He started by writing plays his earlier plays were Richard the third and Henry the eighth.  Shakespeare’s work has made a lasting impression on later theatre and literature. In particular, he expanded the dramatic potential of characterisation, plot, language, and genre. Until Romeo and Juliet, for example, romance had not been viewed as a worthy topic for tragedy. Soliloquies had been used mainly to convey information about characters or events; but Shakespeare used them to explore characters’ minds.

His work heavily influenced later poetry. The Romantic poets attempted to revive Shakespearean verse drama, though with little success. Critic George Steiner described all English verse dramas from Coleridge to Tennyson as “feeble variations on Shakespearean themes.” Shakespeare has power in his words which influence those who witness his plays or read his books. Shakespeare’s legendary talent let him achieve this power. His work has no outcome other than entertainment to it; his work is incorruptible as art. I overall see him as a person who used his position of power for good.

– by Joel Bienefelt, 10ENG