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Creation of this lesson plan was generously supported by the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies
Survival and Resistance: Hidden Children of the Holocaust
Overview By the end of World War II in 1945, six million Jews were dead and as many as 1.5 million of them were children. For the children who did survive, most did so in hiding, many with the assistance of brave resisters. In this lesson, students will learn about the hidden children of the Holocaust with a focus on the personal story of Renee Fink, a Dutch Jew and current North Carolina resident who was placed into hiding at the age of four. Through a Power Point presentation, in depth class discussion, readings, and viewing “On the Back of a Stranger's Bicycle, Renee Fink’s Story,” students will learn about the impact of World War II on the Netherlands in general and on Jews in particular; resistance during the Holocaust; hidden children of the Holocaust; and the way one individual – Renee Fink – was impacted. By integrating Renee’s testimony with historical facts, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the realities experienced by individual lives throughout this tumultuous period. As a final project, students will connect themes of the Holocaust to North Carolina events (past and present) by focusing on North Carolinians who have fought against various examples of injustice, hate, intolerance, etc. in their own community. Students will create an award and speech to honor these North Carolinians, gaining an understanding of the difference one person can make.
Teacher Note Regarding Lesson Length: So that teachers have multiple options for integrating this material in their classroom, all necessary readings and potential discussion questions are attached to this document, with pages 1-16 offering detailed instructions and discussion questions, and pages 17-34 containing handout options. Teachers should edit and omit the contents of the procedure and handouts to match their own classroom’s time constraints.
Key topics • Children of the Holocaust • Hidden children • Rotterdam Blitz • Nuremburg Laws • Resistance • Dutch Underground/Holland Resistance Fighters • February Strike • Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944 • Righteous Among the Nations (“Righteous Christians”/”Righteous gentiles”) • Yad Vashem • Anne Frank
o While this lesson does not address Anne Frank directly, it can serve as an excellent supplemental resource when studying the book and addressing Jewish hiding as a means of survival.
Grades Middle & High School
Materials • “Survival and Resistance” accompanying PPT available in Carolina K-12’s Database of K-12 Resources

o To view this PDF as a projectable presentation, save the file, click “View” in the top menu bar of the file, and select “Full Screen Mode”; upon completion of presentation, hit ESC on your keyboard to exit the file.
o To receive an editable PPT version of this presentation, send a request to [email protected] o The material from the PPT is also available in the attached handout, “Survival & Resistance: The
Netherlands Under Nazi Occupation,” should teachers prefer to cover this material via an assigned reading rather than a PPT (p. 17-20) • “On the Back of a Stranger's Bicycle, Renee Fink’s Story” o This short documentary is available for free viewing at It is divided into 4 short chapters, with a total running time of approximately 22 minutes. o For teachers who choose to utilize the documentary without the remainder of the lesson, the entire list of discussion questions for the film can be found at the end of this document. (p. 31-34) • “Hidden Children,” reading and questions attached (p. 21-25) • “Yad Vashem - The Righteous Among The Nations,” reading attached (p. 26-27) • “Final Project: The Righteous in North Carolina,” assignment attached (p. 28) • “The Legacy of Hidden Children,” speech excerpt and questions attached (p. 29-30) • Discussion Questions for “On the Back of a Stranger's Bicycle, Renee Fink’s Story” (p. 31-34) • Optional: Invite a Holocaust survivor to speak to the class about his/her experiences. For example, residents in the Piedmont region/Triangle area can contact the Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education of North Carolina at
Essential Questions • In what ways did Germany’s invasion and occupation of the Netherlands compare and contrast to other
European countries? • In what ways did the Dutch resist assimilation into Nazi ideals and culture? • What were Dutch individuals risking by participating in various types of resistance, from strikes and
boycotts to participation in the underground movement? • Despite efforts of resistance, what was the impact of the Nazi invasion on the lives of Jewish people in
particular who lived in the Netherlands? • What were the experiences of Jewish children growing up under Nazi rule and how was their childhood
impacted? • What were the challenges faced by children who hid physically, children who hid their identities, and the
rescuers who assisted them? • Why is it important to study the Holocaust and learn about the experiences of hidden children, even
though it is upsetting history? • In what ways have people continued to fight the themes present during the Holocaust (hate, intolerance,
injustice, etc.) throughout history and into present times?
Duration • Two or more 60-90 minute class periods • Teachers can choose to edit the various discussion questions, readings, activities, etc. provided based on
their time constraints. Thus, final lesson duration will vary.
Preparation • Teaching Holocaust history demands a high level of sensitivity and keen awareness of the complexity of
the subject matter. Teachers are encouraged to read the “Guidelines for Teaching About the Holocaust” by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum before broaching this subject matter:

• To effectively study sensitive history such as the Holocaust, a firm foundation of respect and tolerance must be present in the classroom. See Carolina K-12’s “Activities” section of the Database of K-12 Resources for assistance: (Search by topics such as “Classroom Management/Setting Expectations,” “Character Education” and “Discussing Controversial Issues”)
• Before beginning your study of the Holocaust, prepare students that this is a very difficult period of history to examine. Let students know that they may find themselves feeling upset at various points and that this is understandable. Explain to students that even though the material is difficult, it is still critical that we learn about this past to honor those who suffered and ensure history does not repeat itself. Encourage students to debrief their feelings throughout the lesson, either in discussion (class, small group, or partner), journaling, artistic responses, etc.
• Students should have a basic understanding of Holocaust history before engaging in this lesson. See Carolina K-12’s additional lessons available at
Pre-Lesson Assignment Exploring Childhood: Tell students to think of an item that represents a part of their childhood in some way (anything from a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to a baby picture.) The only stipulation is that this item must be significant and/or relative to their childhood, and must be an item that is appropriate for sharing, and that they are comfortable sharing. Instruct students to bring this item in to share with classmates the next day. Students should be prepared to share the following information with class:
• What the item is (describe it) • How the item represents their childhood, what it shares about their childhood and what it says about
childhood in general • Why it is special to them
Teacher Notes: Ideally, teachers will share an item from their own childhood in this format to provide an example to students of what they should prepare for. Teachers should also be mindful as to whether there are any students who for whatever reason (i.e., a student in foster care or who has familial complications) may not have access to a childhood item or may be uncomfortable sharing about their childhood publically. Discuss any situation like this privately, provide an alternate assignment and prepare for ensuring the student isn’t made uncomfortable during the classroom’s sharing of childhood items.
Procedure Day 1
Survival and Resistance: The Netherlands Under Nazi Occupation 1. Let students know that they are going to have the special opportunity to learn from a Dutch Holocaust
survivor (and North Carolina resident) named Renee Fink by watching a video of her telling her story. Renee was born to a Jewish couple in the Netherlands two years before the start of World War II. Renee’s family was assimilated, meaning they were secular Jews and did not practice the laws of Judaism. In 1942, at the age of 4, she was sent into hiding with a Catholic family brave enough to take her in. The van den Brink family already had 8 children of their own living at home, and despite the fact that hiding a Jew was punishable by death (for every member of the family), they cared for Renee until the war ended in 1945. She never saw her birth parents again. Renee came to the United States in 1948. Let students know that her story will allow us to focus on two lesser known aspects of the Holocaust: the impact of the war in the Netherlands, and the experiences of children who were hidden (physically and in the open, by changing their identity.)
Tell students you first want to go review some background information with them regarding “Survival and Resistance: The Netherlands Under Nazi Occupation.”

Begin by asking students what they already know about the impact of World War II and the Holocaust in the Netherlands.
2. Next, discuss the accompanying “Survival and Resistance” PPT with students (available in Carolina K-12’s database or by e-mailing a file request to [email protected]), providing additional information as needed. Remind students that this information will provide a good informational foundation in order to get the most out of Renee Fink’s testimony, which they will be watching later in the lesson. (Teachers should use the PPT as a basis for discussion, rather than lecture. Instruct students to take notes in whatever format is typically required. Some suggestions discussion questions are provided below. These can be addressed as a whole class, or teachers may want to have students partner up to talk about particular questions as well.)
Teacher Note: The material from the PPT is also available in the attached handout, “Survival & Resistance: The Netherlands Under Nazi Occupation,” should teachers prefer to cover this material via an assigned reading rather than a PPT.
3. Questions to discuss throughout the PPT: • Slide 2: While we often focus on the loss of Jewish life when studying the Holocaust, many other groups of people were under attack as well. Why do you think these groups in particular were targeted? o Teachers can explore the fact that it is difficult to comprehend a number so high. One project that sought to visualize this is the Paper Clips Project, should teachers want to integrate this concept: • Slide 3: Do you already know anything about the bombing of Rotterdam, beginning on May 14, 1940? o Additional information to discuss with students: The Rotterdam Blitz was the aerial bombardment of Rotterdam by the German air force on May 14, 1940. The objective was to support the German troops fighting in the city, break Dutch resistance and force the Dutch to surrender. Even though preceding negotiations between the Dutch government and the German Army resulted in a ceasefire, nonetheless, the Germans bombarded and destroyed almost the entire historic city center, killing nearly nine hundred civilians and leaving thousands of others homeless. The Germans threatened to add to the catastrophic bombing by destroying the city of Utrecht (capital and most populous city) next if the Dutch Government did not surrender. The Dutch surrendered to the Germans early the next morning. (Sources:; • Slide 4: What do you think would have been most terrifying about this time? Why do you think it was generally impossible for Jews to escape the Netherlands? (Later in the PPT, let students know they will learn what made escape from the Netherlands particularly more difficult.) • Slide 5-6: Do you know anything about the Hunger Winter? (Let students know they will learn about this later in the lesson as well.) • Slide 7-9: What is meant by passive, non-violent resistance? What are the pros and cons of this type of resistance? Why are relatively passive actions like booing a newsreel, boycotting films and listening to banned radio stations actually very important and highly dangerous actions during this time? What were the Dutch risking by using non-violent resistance in this way? How do you think Hitler and the Nazis responded to such resistance? In what other periods of history was this type of resistance utilized and to what effect? Was non-resistance used in America, by whom, and why? • Slides 10-11: Why do you think the Nazis took these actions in particular? • Slides 12-14: What were Dutch individuals risking by participating in various types of resistance, from strikes and boycotts to participation in the underground movement? What does it say about a person’s character to stand up to injustice, despite the risks?

4. After finishing with slides 15-17, allow students to pose any questions they may have, then culminate by discussing: • Often we focus on Germany when considering the Holocaust, but what does this information teach us regarding the broader impact of the Nazis, and on the Netherlands in particular? • What did you learn or reconsider from this reading that you didn’t already know or hadn’t thought about before?
Exploring Childhood 5. Next, write the word childhood on the board and remind students that they are going to be exploring the
life story of Renee Fink, a Jewish child living in the Netherlands during the various events they just learned about. Tell students you’d like them to take some time to explore the concept of childhood by considering everything (i.e., words, phrases, experiences, etc.) that comes to mind when they think about this word. Their thoughts can be based on their own personal childhood or on what comes to mind in general. Ask students to take a few minutes to jot down their thoughts. Once students are ready to share, chart their answers in a list at the front of the room. Further prompt their thinking by asking: • What do you associate with being a child? • What do you think children need/should have? Why? • In what ways do you think your childhood impacts who you become later in life?
6. Tell students you’d like them to focus on their own personal associations of childhood by sharing the item they brought from home. Go over expectations for sharing by asking students: • When we are sharing something personal, or speaking to others, how do we want to be treated? • What will make you feel respected and heard? (i.e. look at the person speaking, smile at them, don’t giggle or gossip, make positive comments afterwards, etc.)
7. Students can share as a whole class, or in the interest of time, in small groups. The class as a whole, or the small groups, should circle up to face each other and each take 2 minutes to show their item and summarize the questions they were tasked with considering: • What the item is (describe it) • How the item represents their childhood, what it shares about their childhood and what it says about childhood in general • Why it is special to them
8. Let students know up front that their time must be limited to 2 minutes each, and thus you (or an assigned time keeper if sharing in small groups) may need to cut them off if they go over. Explain to them that this will not be done out of disrespect or a lack of interest, but only in the interest of time. Tell students that once each of them finishes, the rest of the class/group will clap as a show of support.
9. After all students have shared, discuss as a class: • By sharing these items, what types of things did we learn about each other’s childhoods and childhood in general? • Based on what you and others shared, how would you describe childhood? Think back to our brainstorm about childhood (from step #3), what additional words, phrases, thoughts, etc. would you now add? (Add additional thoughts to the list.) • What were your favorite activities to do as a child and why? • Again consider what you think are the necessary components of childhood - what do babies, toddlers, and children need? (Ensure students consider physical, emotional, cultural, etc. needs.) • In times of danger (i.e. war, starvation, etc.), why do you think people often first worry about caring for and protecting children?

Teacher Note: As an optional or additional exercise, students can be instructed to find and share newspaper headlines from their childhoods as a way of discussing if and how history influences their lives, and/or what types of events influence a person’s life (i.e., surviving a terrorist attack, participating in a boycott or protest, growing up during a time of war, etc.)
Children During the Holocaust 10. Explain to students that as they continue to consider childhood and their own experiences as a child, you
want them to focus on what it would have been like to be a child during the Holocaust, specifically a Jewish child or a child of another targeted group. Ask: • What do you imagine it was like to be a Jewish child growing up under Nazi rule? How do you imagine
the childhoods of such children were impacted? How might the experiences of children have differed from the experiences of adults? • Looking at the list we’ve created, how might these words and phrases of childhood experiences and emotions compare and contrast to those of a Jewish child who grew up during Nazi rule? Are there any aspects of childhood that might be the same, regardless of what was happening in the world around the child? Explain. • What was the survival rate of children during the Holocaust?
11. Tell students that as of 1939, around nine million Jews lived in territories that Nazi Germany and its allies would eventually occupy. By the war’s end in 1945, six million of those Jews were dead and as many as 1.5 million of them were children (Source: US Holocaust Museum.) Discuss: • Why do you think the ratio of child survival was so low? • How does hearing about this low survival rate make you feel? What does it say about a government and/or society that promotes harming innocent people, especially children? • For the children who did survive, what do you predict enabled them to do so?
An Introduction to Hidden Children - “On the Back of a Stranger’s Bicycle: Renee Fink’s Story” 12. Explain that for the most part, the children who survived the Holocaust did so in hiding. Ask:
• What do you already know about hiding as a means of survival during the Holocaust?
13. Allow students to share any prior knowledge they may have. Some students might be familiar with the story of Anne Frank, who was hidden with her family during the war. Explain that there are thousands of other stories of children who were hidden during the war. Sometimes for years, they lived in physical hiding - out of their captors' sight, in convents, orphanages, haylofts, forests, basements or sewers. Others hid in the open, changing their names, pretending to be Christian and hiding their identities. Jewish families were often torn apart, when in desperate attempts to save their children, parents made the agonizing decision to leave their little ones with strangers. And, frequently, children were left to fend for themselves, wandering through forests and villages in search of food and shelter.
14. Tell students they are now going to hear from Renee Fink, the Chapel Hill, NC resident who actually experienced and survived the Holocaust as a hidden child. Tell students they are going to watch the first chapter of an interview with her then discuss what they learned. Suggested discussion questions are provided below. Teachers should edit and omit questions as they see fit.
Chapter 1: A New Home (5 minutes, 48 seconds) • Where was Renee born? (Sheveningen) Why was she and her family (as well as other Jewish people)
forced to move inland to Bilthoven? o Teachers may want to discuss with students how the Nazis discriminated against ALL Jews,
regardless of their station in life or the degree of their "Jewishness". Renee's family, for example, was completely assimilated but still targeted.

• What were the various ways Renee’s life began to change “little by little” after the May 10th, 1940 Nazi invasion?
• What other types of restrictions do you know Jewish people experienced during this time? • You saw an image of the Nuremberg Laws in this chapter. What do you already know about these laws
in particular? o Additional information to share with students: “At their annual rally held in Nuremberg in
September 1935, Nazi party leaders announced new laws that institutionalized many of the racial theories underpinning Nazi ideology. The so-called Nuremberg Race Laws were the cornerstone of the legalized persecution of Jews in Germany, excluding them from Reich citizenship and prohibiting them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of “German or Germanrelated blood.” Ancillary ordinances to these laws deprived German Jews of most political entitlements, including the right to vote or hold public office. The Nuremberg Race Laws represented a major shift from traditional antisemitism, which defined Jews by religious belief, to a conception of Jews as members of a race, defined by blood and by lineage. For this reason, the Nuremberg Race Laws did not identify a “Jew” as someone with particular religious convictions but, instead, as someone with three or four Jewish grandparents. Many Germans who had not practiced Judaism or who had not done so for years found themselves caught in the grip of Nazi terror. Even people with Jewish grandparents who had converted to Christianity could be defined as Jews.” (Source: • How do you think children were impacted by this gradual yet dramatic change? • Renee refers to the events of May, 1940, which is when Rotterdam (located in Holland, in the Netherlands) was bombed by the Germans (also known as the Rotterdam Blitz.) What did you just learn about these events? (Students should refer back to information covered in the PPT.) o Let students know they will see some images of this bombing in Chapter 2, when Renee again refers to it. • Renee comments that they “were lower than dogs or cockroaches.” What does she mean? • In 1942, two years after the Rotterdam Blitz, life for Jews became more dangerous in Holland. How did Renee manage to go into hiding? • Have you ever heard of or do you already know anything about the Dutch Underground, or the Holland Resistance Fighters? (Have students share their thoughts to gauge any background knowledge, correcting any misinformation if needed.) • Renee refers to people called the “Righteous Among the Nations” or “Righteous Christians” in Holland. Have you heard either of these terms before? Who were these people and what was their role during the war? o Let students know that they will learn more about this later in the lesson, but that these are terms initiated by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews. Yad Vashem, the Shoah Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953 by the Knesset (Israeli parliament) to commemorate these heroes. • Who were the NSB, or the NSBayers? • How do you think Holland was impacted given the dichotomy of having high numbers of both collaborators and resistors? What does this say about the sentiments of many Dutch citizens? What would be the pros and cons of this for the Jewish community in particular? For the non-Jewish community? • What did you learn about the van den Brinks? Why does Renee say they risked hiding her? • Renee comments, “They had a very strong idea of humility and doing the right thing and for them it wasn’t very complicated.” What does she mean? What does this tell you about the character of the van den Brinks? • What were the van den Brinks risking by taking Renee into their home? • How long did Renee live with them?

15. Tell students that they will hear more of Renee’s story tomorrow, but you first want them to get more of an understanding of the realities and experiences of hidden children during the Holocaust. Provide students with copies of the attached reading and corresponding questions on Hidden Children. Instruct students to read each section, stopping to think about and answering the corresponding questions on notebook paper.
Teacher Notes: • Since the reading is 5 pages, if class time permits, allow students to get started in class, perhaps
reading and discussing the questions with partners; students should then finish for homework. • Let students know that they may find the information in the reading upsetting. Explain that even
though the material can be difficult to think about, it is still crucial that we learn about this past to honor those who suffered as well as ensure history does not repeat itself. Encourage students to debrief their feelings as needed.
Day 2
Hidden Children of the Holocaust 16. Start class by discussing student answers to the homework questions. Discuss further:
• Think about a child you love, perhaps a little brother or a little sister. While it is unimaginable that they could experience something like this, try to consider it for a moment. How would you feel knowing someone you love was in this situation?
• You might not consider yourself a child, but this information also applies to people who were your age. Again, while we can’t possibly know what this was actually like, try to imagine you are own your own in this way. What would it be like to try and survive on your own in the forest? Or, what would it be like to move in with strangers and pretend to be someone completely different than who you are? (Remind students that Renee was unable to bring any tangible reminders of her home…no photos of her parents, not a favorite blanket or toy, etc.)
• Based on what you’ve learned thus far, do you think it would be harder to hide physically or to hide in the open by assuming another identity? Explain. o As students discuss, continue to point out that while we may try to imagine such experiences, in actuality it is impossible for us to fully comprehend what individual people felt and dealt with during the Holocaust.
17. Tell students they are going to view the rest of Renee Fink’s testimony today. After each chapter, stop and discuss, allowing time for students to debrief and ask questions themselves. (Again, teachers should edit/omit questions as they see fit.)
Chapter 2: Knowledge Was Dangerous (4 minutes, 54 seconds) • What is Renee’s memory of how she came to the van den Brink house? • As a four year old, did Renee have any idea what was going on? What do you imagine this experience
would have been like for her? What would this have been like for her parents? • Renee says that, “knowledge was dangerous.” What does she mean and why was this the case? • What does Renee mean when she says the woman was just a “tiny cog in a very large machine?” Why
do you think the resistance movement was set up in this way? • Can you think of other examples when knowledge is dangerous? Have you ever had an experience
when it’s safer not to know? Explain. • What was the woman on the bicycle risking by participating in the Underground? • What was Renee told regarding her new home upon arrival? • What do you think she means when she says she was in “survival mode?” • What do you imagine would have been hardest for her in the beginning? • Renee says that she initially “lost her tongue” upon arriving. What does she mean?

• In addition to being in a strange, new place, what additional fears was Renee faced with? • Why were there constant searches of homes by Germans in the van den Brink’s neighborhood? How
do you imagine the family, as well as Renee, felt during these searches? What would have happened to Renee and the van den Brink family had the Germans realized she was Jewish? • When there was a search, how did the van den Brinks conceal Renee’s true identity?
Chapter 3: Hunger Winter of 1944 (4 minutes, 13 seconds) • While Renee went on with life at the van den Brinks, she notes that she was very homesick. Can you
think of a time when you were homesick? Explain the situation and how you felt. How does your situation compare/contrast to Renee’s? • What limited information does Renee have and share regarding the remainder of her family? What would be difficult about not knowing for sure what happened to each of your loved ones? • Why did Renee’s aunt and uncle work for the Underground, despite the risks? She recounts her uncle having said, “We’re dead, either way, so we might as well make our lives count for something.” What message was he conveying? How would you characterize this attitude? • What does Renee’s grandmother go through in order to visit her? • What challenges regarding food does Renee describe? • What did Renee and the van den Brinks eat to survive? • Renee would go to bed as a child dreaming about getting the end piece of bread. What does this tell us about the reality of her situation? (Discuss with students how Elie Wiesel and other survivors [see also the video and lesson plan of survivor Rebecca Hauser] talk about how food becomes an absolute obsession when one is starving. All one can think about is food - it takes over all thought processes.) • Even though they had a limited supply of food, Renee notes that the van den Brinks shared with those in need as long as they could. What does this tell you regarding their character? • Summarize Renee’s description of the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944. What did the family eat to survive during this time? Additional information to discuss with students regarding the Hunger Winter: o Towards the end of World War II, food supplies became increasingly scarce in the Netherlands,
resulting in mass starvation during the Dutch famine of 1944, or “Hunger Winter.” Over 4.5 million people suffered throughout the winter, with as many as 18,000 – 22,000 dying of starvation. A number of factors combined to cause starvation of the Dutch people throughout "Hunger winter.” First, the winter itself was unusually harsh. Also, conditions had grown increasingly worse in Nazioccupied Netherlands after D-Day (June 6, 1944.) While Allied Forces were able to liberate the southern part of the country, their efforts to reach the remainder of the Netherlands proved more difficult. Part of the German administration’s retaliation involved placing an embargo on all food and fuel shipments to the western Netherlands. By the time the embargo was partially lifted in early November 1944, allowing restricted food transports over water, the unusually early and harsh winter had already set in. The canals froze over and became impassable for barges, thus food could not be delivered. Further complicating the situation, the retreating German army destroyed docks and bridges to flood the country and impede the Allied advance. As the Netherlands became one of the main western battlefields, the widespread dislocation and destruction of the war ruined much of its agricultural land and made the transport of existing food difficult.
With the gas and electricity and heat turned off, the 4.5 million people living in the affected area were was very cold and very hungry. In search of food, people would walk for miles to trade valuables for food at farms. Tulip bulbs and sugarbeets were commonly consumed. (Renee mentions "ersatz bread" in her testimony.) Furniture and houses were dismantled to provide fuel for heating. From September 1944 until early 1945 the deaths of 18,000 Dutch people were attributed to malnutrition as the primary cause and in many more as a contributing factor. The

Dutch Famine ended with the liberation of the western Netherlands in May 1945. (Source:
Chapter 4: Surviving Survival (8 minutes, 51 seconds) • What types of changes did Renee have to make immediately upon arriving at the van den Brinks? • Renee commented that, “Jewish children who went into hiding had a tendency to be very obedient
and very quiet and not make waves.” Why do you think this was the case? • Why did Renee characterize this time as a time of “constant fear?” • Why was Renee unable to go to school? How did Renee learn to read and write? • What types of hiding does Renee talk about? What hardships does she note that came with hiding? • Which do you imagine would be more difficult and/or frightening, hiding physically or hiding in the
open by concealing who you are? Why? • Renee mentions parents leaving their babies in drawers or giving them to strangers, hiding children
under piles of coals and hoping they would not be discovered before soldiers stabbed into the coal in search of hidden people, and even throwing their children off of trains. What does such behavior tell us about the reality of life for Jewish families at this time? • In what ways did some people take advantage of families and their children in need of being hidden? How did the van den Brinks differ? • Do you think wealthier Jews had an easier time? Could they have bought their way out of Holland? Could they have paid for some comforts deprived otherwise? • Renee comments that, “the toughest part of our lives was surviving survival.” What do you think she means? What challenges did hidden children face after the war? • Does it surprise you to hear that Renee wanted to stay with the van den Brinks, rather than return to her grandmother? Why do you think she felt this way? • Renee mentions “deniers and revisionists.” Who are these people and what do they believe? What argument does Renee pose to them? Are there any “deniers” today? What are they denying? What motivates them? • Even though it involves remembering unimaginable pain, why does Renee continue to tell her story?
Surviving Survival: Renee’s Journey to Chapel Hill, North Carolina 18. While viewing and discussing the last chapter, allow students to pose any remaining questions they may
have. Point out to students that often when studying the Holocaust, we only learn about the experience of Jews during the war, when they were victimized, mistreated, and often murdered. And while we learn that some people survived and we celebrate this, we often forget to think about what their life would be like after liberation. Life as they knew it was over. They had experienced the unimaginable, suffered beyond comprehension, many had no family or friends still living to speak of, not to mention the post-war mental and physical state of a survivor could be incredibly poor. And yet, Renee survived survival and to this day lives in North Carolina to tell her story. It is truly brave and remarkable.
A bit of information is shared regarding Renee’s life in this chapter. Additional information to share includes: • Renee came to the United States in 1948. She was 10 ½ years old at this point. After landing in
Hoboken, New Jersey with her grandmother, Renee was sent to live with cousins in the Adirondack Mountains, since it was not financially possible for her grandmother to care for her. Renee comments regarding this difficult time, “Though I adored my grandmother with whom I came to the U.S., sadly we couldn't live together. She had lost everyone and everything in her life and though she had the emotional strength, she didn't have the finances to support us…after the war her circumstances were totally reduced. She and I would hunt in the woods for mushrooms to eat and some pieces of wood for our little stove that served to heat the house and cook our meager food. She always managed but could not support us in the U.S. So she went back and forth between New York and Amsterdam and

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My Personal Artifacts