David Tennenbaum survived the Holocaust by pretending to be a Christian, mentally disabled girl. His family’s non-Jewish friend issued false identity papers for him and found him and his mother a secure hiding place in the Polish town of Zimna Woda. The family’s friends recommended that he pose as a mentally disabled girl so that he would not have to attend school. That way, his mother could make sure that his circumcision was not discovered. Tennenbaum, who went into hiding at age 11, in 1942, was one of thousands of Jewish children who were hidden to survive the Holocaust. His story — among many others — is featured in “Life in Shadows,” a new exhibition at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Through photos, documents and first-person testimonies, the exhibit tells the story of the bravery of thousands of Jewish children who survived, and the courage of non-Jewish people of conscience who risked their lives to help them. It also documents the trauma of many of these survivors, who psychologically “never came out of hiding,” said curator Steve Luckert. The exhibition also points out the numerous ordeals of hidden children and their family members who tried to reconnect after the war was over, often searching for each other for years.
The exhibition will travel around the nation after closing in Washington in May, when it will become the Holocaust Museum’s first traveling exhibition to display original artifacts outside the nation’s capital.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, S.W.; through May 12, 2004, daily 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., except Yom Kippur and Christmas Day; free. (202-488-0400 or www.ushmm.org)