Jerusalem Museum Offers Child's View of the Holocaust

Yad Vashem mounts an exhibit featuring some of the toys, poems and diaries that belonged to children who lived through or died in the Holocaust.

Shany Littman
Shany Littman
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"Most of the children's possessions were taken from them. But there remained a few toys, possessions, poems, and diaries that are found in the Yad Vashem collection.”Credit: Courtesy of Yad Vashem
Shany Littman
Shany Littman

A new exhibit that opened earlier this week at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum offers a children’s perspective of the Holocaust.

The exhibit, entitled “Children in the Holocaust: Stars Without a Heaven,” presents the stories of children who went through the Holocaust — some who survived, and some who did not — and each story has some kind of visual representation, ranging from a toy or diary that survived the period, to specially prepared artwork or an animated video.

According to curator Yehudit Inbar, the goal was to present the Holocaust through the children’s eyes, and not from the historical perspective of the events. The difficulty, she said, was to find appropriate materials. “Most of the children who were in the Holocaust were murdered; only a handful survived, and generally all their possessions were taken from them,” she said. “But there remained a few toys, possessions, poems, and diaries that are found in the Yad Vashem collection.”

To fill in for the lack of visual materials, students from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and at the Holon Institute of Technology-HIT were asked to create visual responses to the children’s stories, in ceramic, glass, and animated films.

“The children’s narrative is different from the regular Holocaust narrative,” Inbar said. “It wasn’t always clear to them what was happening around them; it was as if the earth had opened up and they were dropped into a dark abyss they had to adjust to. Despite this, when you look at how they coped with it, you are amazed.”