Yad Vashem’s “No Child's Play” Exhibition with Students:
online material has been developed to help teachers prepare their students’
visit to view the Yad Vashem’s “No
Child’s Play: Children in the Holocaust – Creativity and Play” traveling
exhibition, including two videos, in their respective communities.
It is highly recommended that educators become familiar with the contents of the
seventeen panels of the exhibition (texts, photographs and artifacts) before
they work with their students. In addition, it is recommended that educators
guide their students through the exhibition so as not to create a situation
where their students guide themselves without proper preparation or wander
who would like to access the online version of this exhibition, should consult
the Yad Vashem website in English at: http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/nochildsplay/index.asp
this activity, students will:
the world of Jewish children before, during and after the Holocaust
familiar with primary source materials, such as photographs, artifacts and
empathy for the victims
children's unalienable, universal rights that must be protected
exhibition may be suitable for different grade levels. However, it is very
important that educators be careful to develop an age-appropriate approach
according to their students’ cognitive and emotional levels.
this resource, age-appropriate activities are outlined for both pupils of
elementary schools (grades 6-8) as well as for high school students (grades
Holocaust radically changed the course of the lives of Jewish children in most
European countries. As their
“normal” childhood abruptly came to an end, Jewish children often had to
grapple with insurmountable circumstances, especially constant hunger, despair
and danger. Many times Jewish
children were thereby forced to assume adult responsibilities as well. This
exhibition highlights their daily struggles to survive and their efforts to
preserve their childhood despite the harsh realities that surrounded them.
the visit to this exhibition, educators should focus on the hardships of Jewish
children during the Holocaust, especially highlighting the victims’ “stolen
childhood,” exposure to constant terror as well as the drastic changes in
their family life.
exhibit highlights Jewish children’s toys and drawings, which often took on
different meanings during the Holocaust period.
should be noted that children’s games are traditionally designed to entertain
youngsters and contribute to their cognitive and emotional development.
Children’s toys often provide comfort as well. Toys during the
Holocaust often represented happy times in the eyes of Jewish children before
their lives fell apart – a link to their past.
are often windows into the inner world of children, expressing their feelings
and dreams. Their illustrations often denote how children process their
experiences with the world around them. During the Holocaust, Jewish children
sought to preserve their memories on the one hand, and contend with their
changing realities on the other hand.
17 panels focus on Jewish children’s lives before the war, during the
Holocaust, and in the aftermath.
Teachers should focus on how Jewish families lived before their lives were
destroyed. Students will develop empathy for the Jewish children who lived
normal lives, enjoyed security and thrived in the warmth of their families.
Teachers should highlight the changes Jewish children faced as well as their
efforts to be connected with their former realities. Students will learn about
the victims’ childhood toys as well as their imagination in the world of chaos.
Teachers should pose discussion questions to their students, such as: How do
young people rebuild their lives despite formal education? What happened to
Jewish children who survived the Holocaust after the war? Students will become
familiar with the personal stories of child Holocaust survivors who re-entered
western society and started families – often against all odds.
for Guiding Elementary School Children (Grades
viewing the exhibition, teachers should ask their students to bring with them a
childhood toy or a drawing on the day of the visit.
entering the exhibition space:
Children should sit in a circle so that each one can say a few words about the
picture/toy that they brought.
should ask their pupils to share their childhood memories by discussing some of
the following questions: What is this toy/drawing? Why is it important to you?
Do you remember a special story related to it? Did you lose a toy or an
important object from your childhood? If so, how does it make you feel? What did
that toy mean to you then –and what does it mean to you now?
2: Before the Holocaust
teachers should give their students a brief introduction about the life of
Jewish children before the Holocaust.
do you share in common with the children in these photos?
3: In the Shadow of War
teachers should compare the photos on this panel with those from Panel 1 taken
before the Holocaust. Teachers should explain that not
a lot of time passed between these photos and the ones we saw beforehand.
this panel, there are photographs of German-Jewish child refugees.
do you notice about these photos?
is the difference between the photos of these two panels?
Note: In Panel I, the children are holding their toys and seem happy and safe.
In Panel 3, the boy is holding the toy like a shield. The toy is not being held
in a “natural position,” but rather has become a protection device. The role
of the toy in essence has changed as the child encounters persecution.
provide their class with some background information about the Terezin/Theresienstadt
Ghetto, focusing on the children’s newspaper, Kamarad. In the newspaper
published by and distributed by Jewish children in Terezin, the young
“journalists” focused on their experiences in the ghetto as well as the
world that they knew before they were deported from their homes.
If students ask how children in Terezin obtained art supplies, teachers
should explain that in this ghetto there were painters who were forced laborers
for Nazi Germany who had access to art supplies.
would you describe the story in the children’s newspaper, Kamarad, that
was written by children living in the Terezin ghetto?
would you describe the comics published in Kamarad?
do you think Jewish children published drawings in the ghetto?
8: Children’s Homes
teachers should explain about Janusz Korczak, and his role as an educator in
Poland before the war as well as his work in the Warsaw Ghetto. They should also
focus on the theme of music as showcased on this panel.
you a musician?
kind of music do you like to listen to?
place does music have in your family life?
times of hardship, how can musical instruments encourage people’s will to
9: Children’s Homes in France
teachers should explain how some Jewish children were successfully hidden during
the Holocaust. Normally, hiding is related to playing a game. However, during
the Holocaust period, hiding was a means of survival and constant danger.
Teachers should remind their students that the majority of Jewish children were
murdered during the Holocaust and did not survive (approximately 1.5 million).
comes to your mind when you think about hiding?
did Jewish children pass their time in hiding?
did they keep track of time?
During the Time We Brushed Our Teeth
teachers should read the poem aloud with their students.
teeth is described as a routine activity, part of everyday life.
language of the poem is rather playful, but the underlying message to the
children is to act with great caution while in hiding.
to this poem, what are educators trying to teach children in hiding?
teachers should also focus on the personal story of Herbert
Odenheimer, today called
Ehud Loeb. In this exhibition, he is presented as Herbert – not as Ehud.
Teachers should explain that during the Holocaust, names of Jewish children in
hiding were often changed to protect their identity.
was born in Germany and was later deported with his parents to France as a small
boy. Ehud’s chessboard, that he made as a child, later became part of Yad
Vashem’s exhibit “No Child’s Play.” Today, Ehud is a proud father and
grandfather. He lives in Jerusalem and devotes a lot of his time at Yad Vashem
to tell teachers and students about his personal story.
name was changed a few times during his life. What kind of effect do you think
changing someone’s name has on a young person?
11 A: In Hiding
Heppner and His Drawings in Hiding
teachers should focus on the story of Max Heppner. Max and his friends are
standing at the entrance to a chicken coop, the hiding place of his family
during the Holocaust. On the right side students can see the drawings he made
while in hiding.
drawings focus on the Biblical story of David and Goliath. In this well-known
Bible story, David, a young boy, defeats the giant enemy, Goliath. The
underlying message of Max’s paintings is that just as David defeated Goliath,
Max wishes that the Jewish people will overcome Nazi Germany.
should also explain that despite the harsh reality that Jewish children faced in
hiding, many times they continued to be creative and use their imagination.
it appear as though Max lives in a pleasant place?
you ever seen a chicken coop? If so, how would you describe it?
do you see in Max’s drawings?
is the message of Max’s paintings?
teachers should focus on the story about Claudine Schwartz-Rudel and her doll
Schwartz-Rudel was seven years old when she and her parents fled Paris for the
south of France. Before they left Paris, Claudine’s parents gave her a doll
named Collette. During the war, Collette “gave Claudine strength”.
Her parents cautioned Claudine again and again not to break or lose the
doll. Only later did Claudine realize that her parents were hiding the
family’s valuables inside her doll. Today, Claudine lives in Jerusalem and
works at Yad Vashem.
you have, or have you ever had, a doll?
does this doll mean to you now?
did Claudine use the doll for before the war?
did Claudine’s parents use her doll during the Holocaust?
may be asked to write a letter to Claudine, reflecting on their impressions
after reading about her personal story.
for Guiding High School
Students (Grades 9-12)
2: Before the Holocaust
teachers should focus on the 1939 coffee advertisement from France, featuring a
child model, a young Jewish girl, Regine (Rivka) Gartenlaub-Avihail. Teachers
should point out to their students that even
before the Second World War, children were used as commercial tools in
being showcased in this advertising campaign, it can be clearly understood that
Regine, and other Jewish people in France as well as throughout Europe, were
part of modern society. Regine was a child model, and her photograph clearly was
marketed to promote coffee sales to all members of French society – young and
old from a wide range of social circles. This advertising campaign was
undertaken in 1939, approximately a year before Nazi Germany invaded France.
do you notice in this photograph?
your opinion, why was a young girl asked to hold coffee and a doll at the same
is the message of this advertisement?
3 - The Eve of the Breakout of the Second World War
should place an emphasis on the fact that in a short time after Regine modeled
the product in this advertisement, Jewish people in France were being racially
persecuted. Regine who was once a model in French society suddenly became a
social outcast. Although she may have been proud of her status before the war,
during the Holocaust, Regine - like many other Jewish children - became very
self-conscious about their Jewish identity, especially when they later had to
wear the yellow star in public.
between the photograph of Regine in Panel 2 and this picture in Panel 3?
function did toys and dolls have during the Holocaust in comparison to that of
the pre-war period?
teachers should explain to their students about how Jewish youth lived in the
ghettos, smuggling for survival, and the changing roles in family life as a
result of ghetto conditions. Teachers should explain that young people often had
to assume the roles of adults amidst grave danger in order to help support their
also wish to focus on the poem, “Dream,” by Avraham Koplowicz who lived in
the Lodz Ghetto as well as on the drawings by Nelly Toll who lived in the Lviv
should explain that children during the Holocaust used their imagination to
escape the harsh realities that they faced as well as to enrich their own lives
by being creative. Ultimately, the message of Nelly’s drawings is rooted in
hope for a better future – as well as a longing for life before the war. Avraham’s
poem describes his dreams for the future, hoping for a world in which he will be
able to control his own destiny.
do you think is the meaning of Nelly’s paintings during the Holocaust?
reality is depicted in Nelly’s drawings?
did Avraham dream about?
6: In the Camps
teachers should focus on the story of Eva’s doll and her letter to Gerta
written decades later.
the Second World War, Jewish people were deported from their homes to
concentration camps, forced labor camps and killing centers.
In some camps Jewish people were imprisoned and forced to live in
terrible conditions, whereas others were murdered upon arrival. Eva
Modval-Haimovitz, who was an only child, was deported from her home in
Transylvania (a border region between Hungary and Romania). Before the war,
Eva’s father gave her a doll, Gerta, who later acted as her trusted companion.
night in 1944, when the Hungarian police came to her family’s house, Eva
recounts, “Gerta, and I were scared and cried…it was lucky that Gerta was
with me! I hugged her as tight as I could and then I wasn’t scared.”
the whole time they were imprisoned, and through all of the hardships, Gerta
never left Eva’s side. Eva’s doll, Gerta, comforted her and was a symbol of
warmth and security that her family enjoyed before the war. Ultimately, Eva’s
father did not survive the Holocaust. Eva moved to Israel in 1950, rebuilt her
life and raised a family. In 1998, Eva donated her doll, Gerta, to Yad Vashem.
It was not easy for Eva to part from her, especially since it was a link to her
father and her lost childhood. Toys can symbolize loss. Even in adulthood, some
Holocaust survivors found it difficult to separate from humanized objects that
helped them cope during inhuman circumstances.
should read Eva’s letter to her doll, Gerta, with their students and discuss
the war, Eva had grown up, but she still kept her doll. Why?
was it hard for Eva to donate her childhood doll to Yad Vashem?
do you think that Eva wrote a goodbye letter to Gerta?
15: A Child after the Holocaust
teachers should highlight the fact that there
is no clear information about the child in this photograph. It is uncertain
where the photograph was taken or what name was given to this little child.
Ultimately, this photograph denotes the situation at the end of the Second World
War: People wandered around alone and detached, out of the chaos and debris.
Every child during the Holocaust had a different fate.
should point out that words in the context of the aftermath of the Holocaust often take on a new
meaning; for example, the word “alone.” After the Holocaust, most survivors
were left without their families, friends, homes, neighbors and communities.
Holocaust survivors were often completely alone in the world, facing many
dilemmas as well as grappling with their pain and loss.
do you think that the curators at Yad Vashem chose to conclude this exhibition
with this photograph?
the Holocaust, does the word “alone” take on a new meaning? Explain your
messages can we take with us from this travelling exhibition?
the below Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted on September
26, 1924, by the League of Nations.
Declaration of the Rights of the Child
the present Declaration of the Rights of the Child, commonly known as
"Declaration of Geneva," men and women of all nations,
recognizing that mankind owes to the Child the best that it has to give,
declare and accept it as their duty that, beyond and above all
considerations of race, nationality or creed:
child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both
materially and spiritually;
child that is hungry must be fed; the child that is sick must be nursed;
the child that is backward must be helped; the delinquent child must be
reclaimed; and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored;
child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress;
child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be
protected against every form of exploitation;
child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be
devoted to the service of fellow men.
that students write about what each of the above five principles means
and give examples of ways that these principles were violated during the
Holocaust, as denoted in this exhibition. Ask students whether they are
surprised by the fact that the Declaration was drafted before the
Holocaust, explaining their answers.
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