Before very recently, I hadn’t thought of visiting the Holocaust Museum with children. However, with encouragement from my son’s third grade teacher to expand upon a book he was reading in class, I looked into which exhibits the museum had that might be appropriate for children, if any.
I was surprised to learn that the museum actually had a lot to offer children. The largest exhibit for children is Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story. Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story tells the story of an ordinary Jewish boy growing up in Nazi Germany. In the exhibit children walk through Daniel’s Holocaust experience from his life in a cozy home with many toys and other comforts, to what his town became under Nazi occupation and the “Night of Broken Glass,” to life in a ghetto, through a brief child-appropriate video about transport to a concentration camp and life there.
At the end, it is clear that Daniel survived although not everyone in his family was so lucky. The exhibit concludes with a place where children can write letters (or draw pictures) of hope to mail to Daniel. Some messages are displayed so that visitors can leave on a happy note.
Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story is on the first floor of the museum right past the entrance. This means that it is possible to visit this area without exposing children to any of the museum’s other exhibits.
For families who may wish to explore more, there is a wall of tiles of remembrance made by children on the lower level, as well as the exhibit, Some Were Neighbors, that shows how some resisted the Nazis while others stood by and did nothing. This is a good opening for conversations with children about these issues.
I also chose to take my children upstairs to see the main part of the museum. While we did hurry through the majority of the exhibits, which I simply explained were very sad to look at, I did show them a train car used to transport Jews and others to concentration camps and an exhibit with thousands of shoes found at a concentration camp.
Along the way we viewed some photos of people who lived thorough, and perished, during the Holocaust and a few artifacts. While this approach worked well for my family, as a warning you will pass by some more graphic photos and exhibits so if you absolutely do not want your children to see these at all it is best to stick strictly to the first floor and possibly the lower level.
Although Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story is recommended for children eight and up, my six year old handled that exhibit and the others well. You know your child the best and can gauge what would be appropriate for him/her.
Admission to the Holocaust Museum is free, but tickets are required from March through August.
Photos courtesy of Jamie Davis Smith.