“I never realized that a child is capable of remembering so well and of waiting so patiently.”
Janusz Korczak, Loving Every Child: Wisdom for Parents
A new exhibition entitled “Every Child Has a Name” opened at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance on December 9. The installation includes portions of Yad Vashem’s traveling exhibit, “No Child’s Play”, as well as reproductions of children’s artwork created in the Terezín ghetto. The exhibition includes a visual display of a portion of the 1.5 million pennies collected by Dallas school children over the past six years. Each penny represents one child murdered during the Holocaust.
“Every Child Has a Name” leaves visitors with a transformational and experiential understanding of how children in the midst of incomprehensible inhumanity hold onto the very essence of what others savagely wanted to take away—not just each Jewish child’s life but also the sweetness of their childhoods.
The special exhibit is comprised of three major components:
Between 1942 and 1944, 140,000 prisoners passed through the Terezín ghetto which became a propaganda staging ground for representatives of organizations such as the Red Cross to observe, for themselves, how well the Jews were treated. It was located approximately 60 kilometers from Prague. This also became home to 15,000 children. Many arrived with their parents; others did not.
Also shipped to Terezín were intellectuals, writers, artists, historians, teachers and professors, and composers and conductors known throughout the world. There were thousands of people who worked in film and theater, along with scientists and religious leaders. To minimize the trauma of Germany’s treatment, the meager food, and the austere and crowded surroundings, the adults at Terezín created a school to educate and distract the children.
They were forbidden to teach anything but crafts, drawing and singing but gradually, even if illegally, languages, literature, history and the natural sciences were added. Drawing was taught by Friedl-Dicker Brandeis, a Viennese artist and art instructor who was deported with her husband to Terezín in 1942.
More than a staging area, Terezín was also a mid-point—a temporary stop for Jews prior to being transported for “liquidation” transport to Auschwitz. Friedl-Dicker Brandeis and a majority of the children were selected for transport in October 1944. Dicker-Brandeis left two suitcases full of the children’s drawings well hidden. After the war ended in 1945, they were brought to the Jewish Museum of Prague where the paintings and drawings remained in their suitcases for ten years. They were rediscovered and exhibited and have now been seen by millions throughout the world. This will be their first visit to Dallas. The book, I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezín Concentration Camp, 1942-1944, is available in the Museum Store.
TWO. No Child’s Play, Children of the Holocaust: Creativity and Play
No Child’s Play is a Yad Vasham exhibit curated by Yehudit Inbar. As part of the DHM/CET’s Every Child Has a Name exhibit this section looks at that world of Jewish children before and during the Holocaust. Before the Holocaust cultural environments for Jewish children were diverse socially and in religious outlook and belief. Their games, books, and toys often reflect popular culture, from hoola hoops to Mickey Mouse, and magnify the social diversity that existed in Europe.
Beginning in 1933, Jews were incarcerated in ghettos where survival was extremely difficult—or impossible; adults made every effort to provide children with schooling and organized activities for young people. Many children were concealed within Christian families. This part of the exhibit shares some of the realities of how Jewish children played during this time.
This exhibition is presented with much appreciation to Yad Vasham, the Jewish Museum in Prague and the No Child’s Play curator, Yehudit Inbar.
THREE. One Penny for Every Murdered Child is 1.5 Million Pennies
Julie Meetal’s temporary sculpture incorporating the pennies that Dallas area school children collected is a part of this exhibit. The school children embarked on a mission to collect a penny for each of the 1.5 million children murdered during the Holocaust. The project was called the Dallas Penny Project and students from many Dallas schools both public and private participated. To bring awareness to the point that 1.5 million pennies is a lot of pennies and 1.5 million children is a lot of children, the sculpture will produce a visual awareness of the severity of the loss.