The Holocaust is a dark historical event that can be hard to comprehend for most people let alone kids. Some parents may find it easier to visit particular sites offering educational and interactive resources than talk about the events with their children. For families wishing to introduce their kids to the topic here are some suggested sites to explore.
Dachau Concentration Camp, Germany
Dachau, Germany is the location of the first Nazi concentration camp created in 1933. Initially, the camp held political prisoners. Soon the camp also housed not only Jews but artists, intellectuals, members of the LGBT community, and even the physically and mentally disabled. Sadly many of the detainees were subjected to cruel medical experiments and torture too.
A memorial was created for the prisoners in 1965 where visitors can visit some of the historic buildings in and around the camp. The landmark also offers access to its library and some special exhibits containing materials related to Dachau’s history.
Visitors should be aware that there is quite a bit of walking involved and that a typical tour can last anywhere between 2-4 hours.
Resistance Museu, Copenhagen
After the original museum closed due to an intense fire in 2013, the archive and artifacts of the Danish Resistance Museum moved from Denmark to Brede, North of Copenhagen. Nowadays, travelers can only visit these archives if they make an appointment ahead of time. Officials are hoping the new facility will open by the end of 2018.
When we visited in 2008, our kids had just read Lois Lowry’s Number of the Stars novel that described the plight of the Danish Jews, so they found the museum and its artifacts fascinating.
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Located in central Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House is where the fifteen-year-old novelist lived during the war. Today, the house stands as a preserved national icon visited by thousands of tourists every year.
The house acts as a biographical museum for Anne Frank, her family and those who also hid with them. The museum displays original maps, letters, and stories written by Anne and her family. Visitors can also see interviews with Anne’s father (the only member to survive) as they travel through the house.
Parents should know there are quite a few stairs to climb to get to the Franks’ hideaway. The tiny alcove can get quite crowded with visitors during certain times of the year.
Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
The Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel is a living memorial to the Holocaust that safeguards the memory of the past and its meaning for future generations. Established in 1953, Yad Vashem became the world center for documents, research, education, and commemoration of the Holocaust.
Today, Yad Vashem is a comprehensive primary source for those who wish to learn about the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Here, visitors can find a variety of original Holocaust-era documentation provided in English such as letters, diaries, and testimonies of survivors as well as photos.
Not to be missed is the outdoor garden. This place is dedicated to non-Jews like JanuszKorczakk who risked their lives to save kids and families during the Holocaust.
Pinkas Synagogue, Prague
Aaron Meshullam Horowitz built the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague in 1535. Originally a private establishment, the Pinkas Synagogue is covered with 77,000 names of perished Bohemian-Moravian Jews. It is Prague’s second oldest surviving synagogue, connected with the well known Horowitz family.
Exceptionally touching are the series of pictures drawn by children forced into concentration camps in Theresienstadt during lessons by painter Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. Before her deportation to Auschwitz, Dicker-Brandeis hid these drawings to ensure their survival, totaling 4,500 pictures.
Shoes on Danube, Budapest
Travelers to Budapest can view this great iron shoe memorial created by Can Togay and Gyula Pauer.
The site is dedicated to those who died by the hands of Arrow Cross, a concentration camp enforcer run by the locals. Here, the victims were taken to the edge of the river and ordered to remove their shoes before getting shot and tossed in the Danube.
Holocaust Museum, Washington DC
The Washington DC Holocaust Museum holds a permanent exhibition that tells a narrative story of the Holocaust. At this museum, there are photos, film clips, historical artifacts and eye witness testimonies from this time. The museum also features numerous other exhibitions that change with time. These exhibits discuss how genocide happens and how to prevent it in the present and future.
Not to be missed is Daniel’s story. There’s also the thousands of shoes brought from Majdanek exhibits that create a powerful visual for visitors.
Photo Credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Autism Travel Tips:
- Parents to kids with autism should prepare their children for the visits ahead of time by watching age-appropriate movies and reading books.
- Due to the popularity of the Anne Frank House, parents should prepare to stand in line for up to four hours before they can enter the museum.
- Many of these locations feature extreme content that might not be appropriate for younger kids. Parents should use discretion before visiting.