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Hidden Children

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Introduction

The death toll exacted by the Nazi regime on the Jewish children of Europe is one of the most appalling chapters in the history of the Holocaust. The Nazis targeted all Jews for death, but the mortality rate for children was especially high. Only 6 to 11% of Europe’s prewar Jewish population of children survived as compared with 33% of the adults. Among the small number of European Jewish children still alive at the end of the Holocaust, thousands had survived because they were hidden. With identities disguised, and often physically concealed from the outside world, these youngsters faced constant fear, dilemmas, and danger.

These hidden children faced a variety of difficult circumstances. Many parents sent their children into hiding with Christian families or religious institutions where they hoped the child could pass as “Aryan,” others hid in attics or cellars with the constant threat of discovery by the authorities, and some were lucky enough to have false papers that eased their way into Gentile society. In hiding, these children faced obstacles such as being forced to hide physical characteristics, learning new languages and customs, or adopting a new name or identity. Even then, some children were moved from hiding place to hiding place, sometimes living for months or years in cramped spaces such as closets, attics, cellars, or even sewers. Others, left abandoned, were forced to rely on their own resourcefulness in order to survive.

For many of those lucky enough to be sheltered by religious institutions or adopted by Gentile families, survival often came at the cost of their true identity. At the end of the war, many children were never told of their previous lives and prior identities, hindering attempts to reunite them with adult members of their birth families. Many adult survivors after fruitless searching were never able to relocate their children. Even those children reunited with their families often bore psychological scars imparted from traumatic wartime experiences and perceived abandonment by their parents.

The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to selected materials on hidden children during the Holocaust that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.

Historical Works

  • Dwork, Deborah. Children With a Star: Jewish Youth in Nazi Europe. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991. (D 810 .C4 D86 1991) [Find in a library near you]

    Draws on oral histories, archival records, letters and diaries to analyze the circumstances, activities, and perceptions of Jewish children in Nazi Europe. Chronicles children’s lives before the war, the various camp, ghetto and hiding experiences they faced, and the challenge of life for child survivors in 1945 Europe. Includes many photographs, a bibliography, glossary, map and an index.

  • Flim, Bert-Jan. Saving the Children: History of the Organized Effort to Rescue Jewish Children in the Netherlands, 1942-1945. Bethesda, MD: CDL Press, 2005. (DS 135 .N4 F5413 2005) [Find in a library near you]

    Chronological history of the efforts by four Dutch resistance groups to hide Jewish children in orphanages or smuggle them to safety. Offers statistical analysis of these rescue attempts as well as a “who’s who” listing of rescuers in the Netherlands.

  • Hallie, Philip. Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There. New York: Harper & Row, 1979. (DS 135 .F85 L434 1979) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents the story of Le Chambon sur Lignon, a town in southern France whose residents worked together to save three to five thousand Jews, many of them children, by hiding them in children’s homes, public institutions, and outlying farms. Identifies those who organized and led the rescue efforts and explores the religious spirit that motivated them. Includes eighteen black-and-white images, a short list of sources, and an index.

  • Keren, Nili. “Children.” In The Holocaust Encyclopedia, edited by Walter Laqueur, 115-119. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001. (Reference D 804.25 .H656 2001) [Find in a library near you]

    Reviews the history of Jewish children during the Holocaust with an emphasis on the tragic fate of many in the concentration camps and ghettos and the more fortunate among their generation who survived in hiding. Includes an estimate for the number of child victims in the Holocaust and photographs of children in camps and ghettos.

  • Kurek, Ewa. Your Life is Worth Mine: How Polish Nuns Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children in German-Occupied Poland, 1939-1945. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1997. (D 810 .J4 K8313 1997) [Find in a library near you]

    Describes the rescue movement whereby Jewish children, some smuggled out of ghettos and others brought by their desperate parents, found refuge with the nuns who ran convents across Nazi-occupied Poland. Features an introduction by Jan Karski, interviews with rescuer nuns and child survivors, a listing of women’s religious orders and their locations in Poland, a glossary, and a bibliography.

  • Paldiel, Mordecai. “Fear and Comfort: The Plight of Hidden Children in Wartime-Poland.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 6:4 (1992) 397-413. (D 810 .J4 H6428 v.6) [Find in a library near you]

    Compares the experiences of and harsh circumstances faced by hidden children in Poland in relation to the circumstances faced by hidden children in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe. Based on research gathered by the author as director of Yad Vashem’s Department of the Righteous. Includes bibliographic references.

  • “Rescue of Children.” In Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 381-382. New York: Facts on File, 2000. (Reference D 804.25 .E53 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Contains a general account of child rescue in the Holocaust emphasizing prewar emigration efforts and wartime organized smuggling and hiding of children. Analyzes in particular the wartime rescue efforts in France and Poland.

  • Vromen, Suzanne. Hidden Children of the Holocaust: Belgian Nuns and their Daring Rescue of Young Jews from the Nazis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. (D 804.48 .V76 2008) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents accounts of Jewish children hidden in convents who survived the Holocaust in Belgium and the nuns who cared for them. Includes a list of Belgian nuns that received the title Righteous Among the Nations, endnotes, photographs, a bibliography, and an index.

Testimonies and Collective Biographies

  • Abrams, Judy, and Evi Blaikie, editors. Remember Us: A Collection of Memories from Hungarian Hidden Children of the Holocaust. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2009. (DS 135 .H93 A148 2009) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents the accounts of thirty child survivors who escaped the fate of other Hungarian Jews by hiding during the Holocaust. Includes pictures and a glossary.

  • Abrami, Leo Michel. Evading the Nazis: The Story of a Hidden Child in Normandy. Denver: Outskirts Press, 2009. (DS 135 .F9 A345 2009) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents an account of the author’s life in hiding during the Holocaust, his eventual reunion with his mother postwar, his belated Bar Mitzvah, and eventual immigration to the United States.

  • Adler, David A., and Karen Ritz. Hiding from the Nazis. New York: Holiday House, 1997. (DS 135 .N6 B343 1997) [Find in a library near you]

    Provides the story of Lore Baer who, as a four-year-old Jewish child, was placed with a Christian family in the Dutch farm country to avoid the Holocaust. Includes illustrations. Intended for younger readers.

  • Alland, Bronislawa. Memoirs of a Hidden Child during the Holocaust: My Life during the War. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992. (DS 135 .P62 W22755 1992) [Find in a library near you]

    Recounts the experiences of a Jewish teenager who with the help of false papers and family friends passed as Gentile in wartime Poland. Relates the author’s attempt at “hiding” as an ethnic Pole including a stint at forced labor in a camp at Braunschweig, Germany. Includes a collection of family photographs.

  • Braitstein, Marcel. Five to Ten: A Story of a Hidden Child. Montreal: Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies and The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, 1999. (DS 135 .B43 B732 1999) [Find in a library near you]

    Describes the author’s experiences growing up hidden by devout Protestants in the town of Charleroi, Belgium, during the war. Chronicles his life after the war and the culture clash he suffers as he tries to return to life as a Yiddish-speaking Jew.

  • Buchignani, Walter. Tell No One Who You Are: The Hidden Childhood of Regine Miller. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1994. (DS 135 .B43 M55 1994) [Find in a library near you]

    Relates the story of Regine Miller, hidden by her parents after her brother was arrested by German soldiers. Explains how the Belgian resistance movement, Solidarite, later reunites her with her extended family after the war.

  • Cahn, Eric, and Marilyn Saltzman. Maybe Tomorrow: A Hidden Child of the Holocaust. Arvada, CO: Casan Publishing, 1995. (E 184.J5 C34 1995) [Find in a library near you]

    A memoir that describes the author’s experiences as a young child smuggled out of a concentration camp in Nazi-occupied France. Details the author’s reunion with his sister, and their father, an Auschwitz survivor, in 1946.

  • Cretzmeyer, Stacy. Your Name is Renée: Ruth Kapp Hartz’s Story as a Hidden Child in Nazi-Occupied France. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. (DS 135 .F9 H363 1999) [Find in a library near you]

    Narrates Hartz’s early childhood story, including being hidden amongst French Gentiles, and her experience adopting a new identity, only later rediscovering her Jewish roots. Contains a forward written by Hartz.

  • Greenfeld, Howard. The Hidden Children. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1993. (D 810 .C4 G74 1993) [Find in a library near you]

    Relates the experiences of thirteen Jewish hidden children who survived, and came forward to tell their stories. Includes pictures, quotations, and a bibliography. Intended for younger readers.

  • Jacobsen, Ruth. Rescued Images: Memories of Childhood in Hiding. New York: Mikaya Press, 2001. (DS 135 .N6 J33 2001) [Find in a library near you]

    Provides the author’s account of her survival through Kristallnacht, resettlement in the Netherlands, her family’s deportation, and three years of hiding. Includes photo collages. Intended for younger readers.

  • Jeruchim, Simon. Hidden in France: A Boy’s Journey Under Nazi Occupation. Santa Barbara, CA: Fithian Press, 2001. (DS 135 .F9 J475 2001) [Find in a library near you]

    Relates the author’s experiences as a hidden child in France, and how after the war the family that hid him are honored as Righteous Gentiles.

  • Kuper, Jack. Child of the Holocaust. New York: New American Library, 1987. (D 810 .J4 K8 1987) [Find in a library near you]

    Provides the author’s account of his life as a nine-year-old Jewish orphan on the run in the Nazi-occupied territories of Eastern Poland.

  • Kustanowitz, Esther. The Hidden Children of the Holocaust: Teens Who Hid From the Nazis. New York: Rosen Publishing, 1999. (D 804.48 .K87 1999) [Find in a library near you]

    Details, in their own words, the war-time experiences of Jewish teenagers hiding from the Nazis. Includes a bibliography, glossary and an extensive timeline of events. Intended for young adult readers.

  • Marks, Jane. The Hidden Children: The Secret Survivors of the Holocaust. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993. (D 810 .C4 M37 1993) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents the stories of twenty-three men and women who survived the Holocaust as children in hiding. Describes the extreme measures they or their families took to survive and how they coped under circumstances of great danger and sacrifice. Also examines their post-war experiences, exploring how they dealt with their own survival and rebuilt their lives.

  • Nordheim, Chaya. Hélène. Raanana, Israel: Docostory, 2008. (DS 135 .B43 N67 2008) [Find in a library near you]

    Chronicles the author’s life as a hidden child. Includes images of personal documents, such as birth certificates, passports, and marriage licenses.

  • Richman, Sophia. A Wolf in the Attic: The Legacy of a Hidden Child of the Holocaust. New York: Haworth Press, 2002. (DS 135 .U43 R537 2002) [Find in a library near you]

    Recounts the author’s experiences hiding with her mother in a village near Lwow, Poland, passing as Christian refugees. Chronicles her father’s arrival, after escaping from a concentration camp, and his hiding in secret for the duration of the war.

  • Rosenberg, Maxine B. Hiding to Survive: Stories of Jewish Children Rescued From the Holocaust. New York: Clarion Books, 1994. (D 804.3 .R6625 1994) [Find in a library near you]

    Provides fourteen first-person accounts of Jewish survivors who were hidden as children from the Nazis. Illuminates each survivor’s life before, during, and after the Holocaust. Includes a brief glossary and a bibliography. Created for juvenile readers.

  • Stein, Andre. Hidden Children: Forgotten Survivors of the Holocaust. Toronto: Penguin Books, 1994. (D 804.3 .S747 1994) [Find in a library near you]

    Compiles the first-person accounts of ten hidden children and relates their experiences during and after the war. Explores questions of identity, such as noticeable physical differences between adoptee and new parents and the postwar return to Jewish life.

  • Toll, Nelly S. Behind the Secret Window: A Memoir of a Hidden Childhood during World War Two. New York: Dial Books, 1993. (DS 135 .R93 L8976 1993) [Find in a library near you]

    Recalls the author’s experiences being hidden, along with her mother, by a Gentile couple in Lwow, Poland. Includes a collection of her childhood paintings. Intended for a younger audience.

  • Tománková, Magdalena. Ptaly se: proč? ukrývané děti vzpomínají = They asked: Why? Recollections of the Hidden Children Pardubice: Batoš, 2008. (DS 135 .C97 P83 2008) [Find in a library near you]

    Presents individual stories of hidden children from the Czech Republic. Includes endnotes. In both English and Czech.

  • Weinstein, Frida Scheps. A Hidden Childhood, 1942-1945. New York: Hill and Wang, 1985. (DS 135 .F9 W4513 1985) [Find in a library near you]

    Chronicles the author’s wartime experiences as a child left by her mother for her own safety in a French Catholic convent.

  • Winter, Miriam. Trains: A Memoir of a Hidden Childhood During and After World War II. Jackson, MI: Kelton Press, 1997. (DS 135 .P63 W569 1997) [Find in a library near you]

    Explores the issues encountered by the author as she maintains her false identity for the first thirty years after the outbreak of the war, and the complexities encountered as she rediscovers her Jewish roots.

Life After the War

  • Kessel, Barbara. Suddenly Jewish: Jews Raised as Gentiles Discover Their Jewish Roots. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000. (DS 143 .K46 2000) [Find in a library near you]

    Recounts the experiences of hidden children and Gentile adoptees through the extensive use of narratives and testimonies. Includes a bibliography.

  • Kestenberg, Judith S., and Ira Brenner. The Last Witness: The Child Survivor of the Holocaust. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1996. (RC 451.4 .H62 K47 1996) [Find in a library near you]

    A psychological study of the effects of trauma and persecution on a child’s psychic structure and emotional development. Explores the impact of life in the camps and in hiding on children and adolescents, through analysis of more than 1,500 survivor interviews. Presents vignettes and life histories to illustrate points. Includes a lengthy bibliography and an index.

  • Moskovitz, Sarah. Love Despite Hate: Child Survivors of the Holocaust and their Adult Lives. New York: Schocken Books, 1983. (D 810 .C4 M675 1983) [Find in a library near you]

    Documents the wartime lives and postwar experiences of twenty-four child survivors, many of whom survived in hiding. Based on interviews with the survivors as adults. Includes photographs and bibliographical references.

Film and Video

  • Binford, Mira Reym. Diamonds in the Snow [videorecording]. Waltham, MA: National Center for Jewish Film, Brandeis University, 2005. (DVD Collection) [Find in a library near you]

    This documentary tells the story of three Jewish children from Bedzin, Poland, who survived the Nazi Holocaust. These women recount their memories of a childhood spent hiding from the Nazis and reflect on those individuals and families who helped them survive. Archival film and photos interspersed with the interviews document the period.

  • Cretzmeyer, Stacey, and Jim Rogers. Speak Up: Lessons From a Hidden Child [videorecording]. Conway, SC: Coastal Carolina University, Center for Education and Community, 1994. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]

    Documents a lecture by Ruth Kapp Hartz, who survived the Holocaust in France as a hidden child, and Stacey Cretzmeyer, author of a book based on Hartz’s experiences, in which they discuss their collaboration and read selections from the book. Includes reflections by high school students on the impact of the Holocaust on their world views and the importance of finding new ways to teach the lessons of the Holocaust.

  • Holland, Agnieszka. Europa, Europa [videorecording]. Santa Monica, CA: MGM Home Entertainment, 2003. (DVD Collection) [Find in a library near you]

    Oscar-nominated feature film about the true story of a Jewish teenager, Solomon Perel, who survived World War II by living as both a Hitler Youth and a Soviet refugee for seven years. Shows the similarities of Nazi and Soviet techniques of indoctrinating youth, and the dual hardship suffered under either regime.

  • Lindwer, Willy. Child in Two Worlds [videorecording]. Teaneck, NJ: Ergo Media, 1995. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]

    Focuses on five Jewish war orphans, hidden in Christian foster homes, how they survived the war and returned to their roots later in life. Dutch with English subtitles.

  • Malle, Louis. Au Revoir Les Enfants! [videorecording]. Irvington, NY: Criterion Collection, 2006. (DVD Collection) [Find in a library near you]

    Based on the director’s life, this film drama chronicles Malle’s experiences in a Catholic boarding school in Nazi-occupied France. Twelve-year old Malle befriends a new student whose true identity as a hidden Jew is revealed to no one. French with English subtitles.

Museum Web Resources

Holocaust Encyclopedia

Holocaust Encyclopedia

Explore our comprehensive entries on the events, people, and places of the Holocaust.

Learn More

  • Exhibitions: Life in Shadows: Hidden Children and the Holocaust

    This online component to the Museum’s Special 10th Anniversary Exhibition explores the history of children who went underground to escape Nazi persecution and destruction. Relates stories of desperation, tragedy, courage, love, and survival in the darkest of times. Includes text and photos from the exhibit.

  • Library: Bibliography on Anne Frank

    An annotated online bibliography of works concerning Anne Frank, a hidden child in Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Includes editions of her famous diary, biographies of Frank and her family, scholarly evaluations of Anne Frank and her significance in the Holocaust.

  • Library: Bibliography on Children

    An annotated online bibliography of works pertaining to children and their experiences within the context of the Holocaust. Details the experiences of child victims and survivors and the actions of the rescue movements that saved children. Also provides information about the conditions faced by children in the camps and ghettos and in hiding.

Additional Resources

Subject Files

Ask at the reference desk to see the following subject files for newspaper and periodical articles:

  • “Children”
  • “Jewish children”
  • “Le Chambon-sur-Lignon (France)”

Subject Headings

To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on hidden children during the Holocaust, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:

  • Hidden children (Holocaust)
  • Hiding places
  • Jewish children in the Holocaust
  • Jewish children
  • Jewish orphans
  • World War, 1939-1945-Children

See all Bibliographies