“Between Life and Death” exhibition in Amsterdam

Redakcja / Editorial staff / English translation: Andrew Rajcher, 8th June 2018
On 13th June, Amsterdam's Castrum Peregrini will be the venue for the opening of the exhibition “Between Life and Death – Stories of Rescue During the Holocaust”, presenting the story of Jews rescued during World War II and the story of those who helped them, often at the risk of their own lives. The exhibition is a joint undertaking of the European Remembrance and Solidarity Network, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Silent Heroes Memorial Centre. The first presentation of the exhibition took place, this year, in the Brussels headquarters of the European Commission, marking the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust.

During the Holocaust, six million Jews perished in German-occupied Europe. Faced with this mass crimes, the civilian population fasced a difficult challenge as to how to react to this genocide. Attitudes towards the Holocaust varied, but only a few decided to help persecuted Jews.

The exhibition Between Life and Death – Stories of Rescue During the Holocaust” presents stories of those who came to the rescue and also of those who received that help. It describes their experiences, their efforts, their motivations and pays particular attention to their acts of courage and to their strength of will to survive. The exhibition's heroes come from Poland and from eight other european countries – Croatia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Germany, the Ukraine and Hungary. Their fates are shown within a broader historical context. The exhibition explains the conditions which prevailed in these countries under occupation and also the multi-dimensional relationships and emotional bonds which were born between the rescuers and the rescuees.

The exhibition will be on display from 14th June to 15th August 2018 in Amsterdam's Castrum Peregrini (Pilgrim Fortress). This was the codename for the safe haven created, during World War II, by artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht (1912-2013), in which many Jews found refuge – among them, Claus Victor Bock. After the War, Gisèle was honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations and her story is featured in the exhibition.

Over the past seventy-five years, Castrum Peregrini has taken many forms, represnting various values and stories – a hiding-place, a magazine, a publishing house and a community which organised itself around a cult of friendship inspired by the poet Stefan Georg. Today's Castrum Peregrini is a cultural centre, a place of artistic exploration and meetings. In accordance with Gisèle's spirit, it supports the independent work of both artists and thinkers.

The Official Opening of the exhibition “Between Life and Death –Stories of Rescue During the Holocaust” will take place on 14th June at 4:00pm at Castrum Peregrini (Herengracht 401, Amsterdam).

The exhibition will be opened by Avraham Burg, former Chairman of the Knesset and Chairman of the Jewish Agency For Israel (JAFI), author of the book In Days to Come: A New Hope for Israel, and Prof. Jan Rydel, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the European Remembrance and Solidarity Network.

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Exhibition Creators: Dr Martyna Grądzka-Rejak (ENRS), Klara Jackl (POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews), in conjunction with Marta Ansilewska-Lehnstaedt (Silent Heroes Memorial Centre)

Academic COmsultants: Dr Aleksandra Namysło, Prof. Jan Rydel (ENRS), Dr Piotr Trojański (ENRS), Prof. Johannes Tuchel (Silent Heroes Memorial Centre)

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

Funding: Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Federal Government Representative for Culture and the Media (BKM)

Partners: Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, Memorial of Chambon sur Lignon, Mémorial de la Shoah, Danish Jewish Museum, "Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies, Castrum Peregrini, NIOD, the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, World War II Museum in Gdańsk 

Read more about the exhibition's display in Brussels