At the center of the Nathan Rapoport sculpture is Janus Korczak; surrounding him are children gripping his arms and legs, each one with a look of terror on his or her face. Born Henryk Goldzmit, Dr. Janus Korczak was a famed Polish-Jewish educator, a combination Mister Rogers and Dr. Spock of his time. His academic work in child psychology and education and the orphanages established and modeled on his principles continue to be subjects of study to this day. The Rapoport sculpture depicts what is referred to as “Korczak’s Last Walk,” that dark day on August 6, 1942, when the Nazis took Korczak and the children of his orphanage to the Umschlagsplatz, along with thousands of others, to board the cattle cars to Treblinka. During 1942, Hitler decided to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto, deporting some 230,000 Jews to the concentration camps.
There is a monumental version of this piece installed at the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan. with foundry mark from Polich Tallix foundry (they cast for Frank Stella, Robert Longo, Willem de Kooning and many others)
Nathan Rapoport (1911–1987), also known as Natan Rapoport, was a Jewish sculptor and painter who was born in Warsaw, Poland. His middle name may be rendered in English as either Yaakov or Jacob. Born to religious Jewish family He first went to study torah but upon the illness of his father left to help his family. In 1927 Rapoport went to study sculpture at the local academy of art eventually earning a scholarship to travel to Italy and France. Although he won first place in an art competition in 1936 he refused to accept the prize in an exhibition that took place in Nazi Germany. In 1938 he earned a scholarship for studying in Paris but with the outbreak of World War II he fled Poland to Russia. The Soviets initially provided him with a studio, but later compelled him to work as a manual laborer. After the war ended he returned to Warsaw, Poland and in April 1948 he made the memorial monument for Warszawa ghetto rebels- Jewish Warrior Organisation. He continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1950, Rapoport immigrated to the United States, where he lived in New York City until his death in 1987. Rapoport’s Israeli studio – “Rapaport’s House” is located in Ramat Gan and operates as an art museum/education centre which houses some of his sculptures.
His sculptures in public places include:
Liberation (Holocaust memorial), 1985, bronze, Liberty State Park, New Jersey
Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw, Poland.
Monument to Mordechai Anielewicz at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, Israel
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, bronze sculpture in Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel
Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial at Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA.
Korczak's Last Walk at the Park Avenue Synagogue, New York, NY.
The Last March, bronze sculpture by Nathan Rapoport, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, bronze sculpture by Nathan Rapoport, 1947, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel
Scrolls of Fire by Natan Rapoport, near Jerusalem, Israel
Menorah (Hanukkah) from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument
Coen, Paolo, «L’artista reagisce in modo artistico. Questa è la sua arma». Riflessioni di valore introduttivo sul rapporto arte-Shoah, da Alexander Bogen e Nathan Rapoport a Richard Serra, in Vedere l'Altro, vedere la Shoah, with an appendix by Angelika Schallenberg, Soveria Mannelli, Rubbettino, 2012, pp. 6-68
Gilbert, Martin. (1987), The Holocaust, New York, Random House, 1987, 317-324.
Sohar, Zvi, Fighters Memorial, Monuments to the Fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Sifriat Poalim, Workers' Book Guild, 1964.
Yaffe, Richard, Nathan Rapoport Sculptures and Monuments, New York, Shengold Publishers, 1980.