Between Life and Death – exhibition

05 nov

What was the daily experience of Jews hiding from the German machine of extermination and those who brought them help sometimes even risking their lives? An exhibition that juxtaposes these two distinct yet intertwined perspectives will be displayed at the Holocaust Memorial Center from 6 November till 15 December 2019. The travelling display showcases personal stories of Holocaust survivors and rescuers from eleven different countries set against a broader historical context. The project is a joint initiative of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw) and the Silent Heroes Memorial Centre (Berlin).The Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest has contributed to the Hungarian panel of the exhibition.

The Jewish genocide in war-torn Europe claimed millions of lives. In the face of the tragic fate of Jews, local populations of countries occupied or allied with the III Reich along with some ordinary Germans faced a dilemma that they had probably never envisaged: how to react to such a mass atrocity? While individual responses to this question differed widely, only few offered help to people seeking to survive.

The exhibition ‘Between Life and Death. Stories of Rescue During the Holocaust’ presents accounts from eleven European countries: Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The Hungarian panel of the exhibition features two stories. The first one is of Zoltan and Iren Fisch and their sons, Robert and Paul – a Jewish family who suffered from persecution but received help from Anna Tátrai, a Catholic and a former nanny of the boys. The second story is of Gizella Csertán, a young girl who managed to arrange a shelter for three Jewish women and a baby for a few months and provided them with false baptism certificates, thus enabling them to survive the war. Both Anna Tátrai and Gizella Csertán were eventually recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

By outlining stories of survivors along with those of rescuers, the display highlights the complexity of human relations under extreme conditions. The testimonies are also shown against a broader historical background to offer a better understanding of local opportunities for Jews to survive and for helpers to provide aid.

The display had its premiere in Brussels with the official opening in the European Commission headquarters on 27 January 2018 (International Holocaust Remembrance Day), and was subsequently presented also in Amsterdam, Bratislava, Vilnius, Wrocław and Markowa (an important Polish memorial site dedicated to the Polish Righteous) and – recently – Bucharest.

Between Life and Death. Stories of Rescue During the Holocaust

Official opening: Wednesday 6 November 2019, 16 hours
On display: 6 November–15 December 2019
Venue:  Holocaust Memorial Center, Páva st. 39, 1094 Budapest

European Network Remembrance and Solidarity,
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews,
Silent Heroes Memorial Centre at the German Resistance Memorial Center Foundation

Ministry of Human Capacities, Hungary
Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM), Germany
Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Poland
Ministry of Culture and National Identity, Romania
Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic

Holocaust Memorial Center, Hungary; “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania; Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, Lithuania; Memorial Chambon sur Lignon, France; Memorial de la Shoah, France; Danish Jewish Museum; ‘Tkuma’ Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies; Castrum Peregrini, The Netherlands; Museum of the Second World War, Poland; NIOD, the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies,  The Netherlands, Nation’s Memory Institute (UPN), Slovakia