Journey Museum brings in new traveling exhibit
RAPID CITY, S.D. – According to Yad Vashem, of the 6 million Jewish citizens killed during the Holocaust, one-and-a-half million were children.
15 years ago, the organization presented the “No Child’s Play” exhibit to the United Nations to honor the children lost. Since then, the display has traveled around the world, giving people a look into the world of children during the holocaust and how they held onto their childhood.
Now at the Journey Museum and Learning Center in Rapid City, on loan from the American Society of Yad Vashem, visitors will be able to see the exhibit and learn.
Since its debut, the “No Child’s Play” exhibit has gone to many places both domestically and abroad, giving viewers a look at the lives of children during this tragic period.
“The purpose of the exhibit is to commemorate and memorialize the one-and-a-half million children that perished in the Holocaust,” Director of Education at the American Society for Yad Vashem Dr. Marlene Warshawski Yahalom explained. “And the exhibit is also a tribute to Dr. Janusz Korczak, who was a Jewish child educator who also perished during the Holocaust.”
Dr. Janusz Korczak was a polish educator who studied the importance of play and spent his life helping orphaned children.
It was through his documented works on seeing children as human beings that led to a UN international human rights treaty establishing children’s rights.
Rather than focusing on statistics, viewers learn about the different ways kids held on to their childhood through images of their toys and poetry. While still working on the exhibit, Yad Vashem was able to collect toys, games, stuffed animals, and other items children had. All of the toys and items in the pictures for the exhibit all were donated by survivors and their families.
“The request was made specifically for toys and games and stuffed animals and dolls. Pieces of jewelry, anything they had that helped them really get through the war,” Dr. Yahalom said.
While death is a widely-discussed topic regarding the Holocaust, that is not the key takeaway from “No Child’s Play.” Instead, Dr. Yahalom hopes people focus on the opposite.
“I think the main message, and a very important one, is not to focus on only the death that occurred during the Holocaust, but the struggle for survival and holding on to life, and how children coped. And miraculously, children did survive as well.”