A travelling Holocaust exhibition geared specifically to children is at the Chilliwack Museum for the next three months.
Tell Me A Story! Youth Literature and the Holocaust, is an interactive exhibit on loan from the Montreal Holocaust Museum to introduce the history of the Holocaust and the Second World War to children aged eight and older.
“I think it’s really important to continue educating about the Holocaust,” said Kate Feltren, curator with the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.
The exhibition showcases five works of youth literature inspired by true stories, allowing visitors to see the horrors of Holocaust through children’s eyes.
Kids will learn about the life of 13-year-old Anneke Van Raalte. She and her family were imprisoned in the Theresienstadt camp-ghetto because they were Jewish.
“During the war, I had to work and scrub pots. I was always hungry,” the little girl recounts. “At night, I tried to ignore the bed bugs.”
One section, called Hana’s Suitcase, tells the story of young Hana Brady and how her suitcase ends up in Tokyo at the Holocaust Education Centre where the director then tries to find out what happened to Hana once the war was over.
And then there’s Holocaust survivor Marguerite Élias-Quddus. Her story is centred on the three years that she and her sister spent in hiding under false identities with several families in France during the Second World War.
The displays offer a starting point for raising awareness about the dangers of racism and antisemitism, museum officials said in a press release.
The exhibition was designed to be highly interactive so young hands can touch and feel many of the replica items such as a photo album, a dress, and items in Hana’s suitcase like a knitted sweater.
“While this exhibition comes from Montreal, the content has global significance and impacts the community of Chilliwack,” Feltren added.
“To demonstrate this, we are highlighting the stories of the Chilliwack community through testimonies and objects from our collection, and from the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C.”
She contacted the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C. after having found oral interviews online with the Sussel family of Chilliwack.
The museum supplied her with a number of photographs of the family which are now part of the exhibit. She combined those images along with a story and three artifacts from the Chilliwack Museum and Archives collection which the Sussels brought with them to Canada from Germany.
Feltren also put together a panel on the Kozlowski family from Poland. They came to Chilliwack thanks to sponsorship from the Chilliwack Refugee Year Committee.
“The whole community came together and raised money to secure them housing and food and everything,” Feltren said of the Kozlowskis.
There’s also a piece on how Chilliwack’s Dutch community grew following the war.
“Our goal is to help our community make the connection between past and present, and place our experiences as a community into the global perspective,”said Sarah Belley, education and engagement coordinator.
Tell Me A Story! Youth Literature and the Holocaust is on display at the Chilliwack Museum from now until Feb. 5. Hours are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Thursdays until 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information on admissions can be found at www.chilliwackmuseum.ca.
Education programs are also being offered in conjunction with this exhibition. Contact Sarah Belley at 604-795-5210 ext.103 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.