Patched-together dolls, drawings, poems and other personal effects give a glimpse of childhood turned unthinkable during the horrors of the Holocaust in an exhibition which opened today at the United Nations as part of a week of remembrance there.
No Child’s Play, a travelling exhibit produced by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, is part of a series of activities leading up to 27 January, which has been designated by the General Assembly as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of genocide.
With the theme Remembrance and Beyond, the events are meant to be not only reminders of past crimes and their victims, but also to spark an awareness among the international community and society at large, in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.
“The exhibition serves as a poignant caution to us all to remember the base savagery of which human beings are capable, and as a call to arms to ensure that we all act to prevent such horrors,” Shashi Tharoor, UN Under-Secretary-General for Public Information, said at the opening of the children’s exhibit.
Over 1.5 million children were murdered as part of the Nazis’ genocidal project, according to information in the exhibit. Many of the photographs are of artefacts from temporary havens, such as children’s homes or family areas of death camps, from which the young were taken to be killed.
Others belonged to some of the few thousand survivors who managed to hide in Christian homes or isolated areas.
The exhibit is complemented by a Learning Centre that will feature video footage of the Holocaust, photographs from the ITAR-TASS collection of Moscow, books written by survivors, copies of a children’s book with drawings and poems by children in the Terezín ghetto, as well as computer stations able to access victims’ names, the UN Cyberschoolbus and other related websites.
At the opening, a high school student read “Dream,” a poem written in the Lodz ghetto by 13-year-old Abramek Koplowicz, who later perished at Auschwitz. Abramek imagines himself in a better world, riding a mechanical bird among the clouds and the wind, his brothers and sisters.
Remembrance and Beyond will continue tonight with a screening of the movie Fateless, which follows a 14-year-old Jewish boy from Budapest to the Buchenwald Concentration camp, and on Thursday with a presentation on tolerance to non-governmental organizations by Judea Pearl, President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.