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Allan Falk on a visit to his foster parents Elisabeth and Conrad Worsøe Christophersen in the post-war years (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Allan Falk on a visit to his foster parents Elisabeth and Conrad Worsøe Christophersen in the post-war years (The Danish Jewish Museum).
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Tove Udsholt was a hidden child in the town of Gilleleje 1943-1945. Later she was adopted by her foster parents. The photograph was taken in 1943 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Tove Udsholt was a hidden child in the town of Gilleleje 1943-1945. Later she was adopted by her foster parents. The photograph was taken in 1943 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Hans Peter Omann got a Jewish foster sister, Sonja Grünbaum in 1943.  The photograph is taken in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Hans Peter Omann got a Jewish foster sister, Sonja Grünbaum in 1943. The photograph is taken in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Paula Melnik had to leave her daughter Hanna at a children’s home at Frederiksberg. Later on Hanne were placed with a foster family where she lived until 1945, when Paula came back and were reunited with her daughter. The photograph is taken in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Paula Melnik had to leave her daughter Hanna at a children’s home at Frederiksberg. Later on Hanne were placed with a foster family where she lived until 1945, when Paula came back and were reunited with her daughter. The photograph is taken in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Maja Elbaum was hidden by the married couple Flindt from 1943 until 1949. The photograph shows Maja Elbaum in the arms of the foster farther Poul Flindt in the summer of 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Maja Elbaum was hidden by the married couple Flindt from 1943 until 1949. The photograph shows Maja Elbaum in the arms of the foster farther Poul Flindt in the summer of 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Bent Hannover and his baby sister were hidden children in Denmark, when their parents fled to Sweden in October 1943. Later on, Bent was illegally transported to Sweden where he was reunited with his parents (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Bent Hannover and his baby sister were hidden children in Denmark, when their parents fled to Sweden in October 1943. Later on, Bent was illegally transported to Sweden where he was reunited with his parents (The Danish Jewish Museum).
In October 1943 the nanny Thora took on the responsibility of caring for the ten months old Leif Tikotsky when his parents had to flee to Sweden. Thora got wages and money to support Leif and on the request of the parents took photos of Leif and documented how they lived. The photograph is taken in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
In October 1943 the nanny Thora took on the responsibility of caring for the ten months old Leif Tikotsky when his parents had to flee to Sweden. Thora got wages and money to support Leif and on the request of the parents took photos of Leif and documented how they lived. The photograph is taken in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Gunnar and Hanne Grünbaum were hidden at a farm in Vinde Helsinge on the western part of Zealand when their parents had to flee. The photograph is taken in 1945 shortly before the children were united with their parents (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Gunnar and Hanne Grünbaum were hidden at a farm in Vinde Helsinge on the western part of Zealand when their parents had to flee. The photograph is taken in 1945 shortly before the children were united with their parents (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Jeff Ibbo was in foster care in the home of Charles and Edith Holleriis while his parents were in exile in Sweden as Jewish refugees 1943 – 1945. The photograph shows Jeff’s father, Henning Ibbo, visiting his son at the foster parents’ home in Lyngby in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Jeff Ibbo was in foster care in the home of Charles and Edith Holleriis while his parents were in exile in Sweden as Jewish refugees 1943 – 1945. The photograph shows Jeff’s father, Henning Ibbo, visiting his son at the foster parents’ home in Lyngby in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
A family reunited in 1946. During the roundup of the Danish Jews the family became separated. The two oldest children Nina and Ole fled together with their father Holger Marcus to Sweden, while the two youngest children Lillian and Bodil were hidden at a convent in Nykøbing Falster (The Danish Jewish Museum).
A family reunited in 1946. During the roundup of the Danish Jews the family became separated. The two oldest children Nina and Ole fled together with their father Holger Marcus to Sweden, while the two youngest children Lillian and Bodil were hidden at a convent in Nykøbing Falster (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Claus Arentoft with his foster parents Inga Stensler Arentoft and Holger Alex Arentoft. After the war his foster parents were permitted to adopt him. Only when Claus was twenty years old he realized that he was adopted and had a Jewish family (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Claus Arentoft with his foster parents Inga Stensler Arentoft and Holger Alex Arentoft. After the war his foster parents were permitted to adopt him. Only when Claus was twenty years old he realized that he was adopted and had a Jewish family (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Eva and Esther König were hidden at a children’s home when their parents had to flee to Sweden. Their mother Selda König Holtzmann did not return from Sweden until the girls started first grade in school in 1948 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Eva and Esther König were hidden at a children’s home when their parents had to flee to Sweden. Their mother Selda König Holtzmann did not return from Sweden until the girls started first grade in school in 1948 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Tove Udsholt was a hidden child by the wreck master in Gilleleje 1943 – 45. In the first couple of years after the war lived Tove with her mother but she longed to be with her foster parents. When she malfunctioned in school her mother allowed, that her to move back to Gilleleje to live with her foster parents (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Tove Udsholt was a hidden child by the wreck master in Gilleleje 1943 – 45. In the first couple of years after the war lived Tove with her mother but she longed to be with her foster parents. When she malfunctioned in school her mother allowed, that her to move back to Gilleleje to live with her foster parents (The Danish Jewish Museum).

The Hidden Children

When the German occupying powers began the mass arrest of Jews in October 1943, 95% of the Danish Jews made it to safety in Sweden, among them over 1200 children. However, at least 148 children were left behind in Denmark when their parents fled  –  over 10% of all the children who were the victims of the persecution of the Jews.  These children were hidden in children's homes, boarding schools and in private homes. For most them the separation from their parents lasted over 1 ½ years, until the war finally ended in May, 1945.


When the Germans carried out the roundup of the Danish Jews the night between October 1 and  2, 1943, the Jewish families took flight head over heels from their homes. Frightful rumours spread  about the dangers of fleeing to Sweden.  In addition stories went around  that children were choked or thrown over board when they failed to keep quiet during the crossing. The families also worried about what would become of them in Sweden.  The situation forced some families to take the drastic decision to leave their children at home in Denmark in order to protect them from the dangers.  Those who helped the Jews were also worried about small children. On some routes there were doctors along, who could sedate the children during the crossing, but complete sedation of small children was risky and did not always succeed. A crying child would reveal everyone, even the refugees' helpers and the fishermen. Therefore certain routes refused to take small children into the boats. 

The Stories of the Children

The age distribution of the hidden children indicates how the parents and helpers judged the risk of bringing along small children. Up to 60 % of the hidden children were under 5 years old.  25% were under or close to 1 year old. The youngest was only 6 days old, the oldest 17 years. 

The parents of the hidden children came from all social classes and professions.  Nothing indicates that parents were forced to leave their children for financial reasons. Only in an absolute minimum of cases was there any payment between the parties involved, and then only for specific expenses such as the child's clothing, toys and other equipment. As far as is known, no foster parents received compensation for their efforts.

A diverse mixture of routes brought the children to their foster families. A great many went to live with non-Jewish family members: grandparents, aunts and uncles, others stayed with their nannies, who brought the child to safety. Other parents found children's homes or boarding schools through personal contacts where the children were accepted. Still, a fair number of children ended up with foster parents who were total strangers: distant acquaintances of the family or home who had contacts in the resistance movement.  In some cases the children moved underway and their parents in Sweden no longer knew where they were.

After the War

Naturally the children became attached to their foster parents. By far most loved and cared for the child as if it were their own. The youngest of the children had no recollection of their biological parents who returned home in1945. They were retrieved by people who were strangers and separated from the foster parents who made up their whole world.  Many of the children experienced a double betrayal. First they were left behind by their parents, and now they had to leave the foster parents to whom they had strong emotional bonds. 

In fact for the children the worst experince was not that they were left behind, for most had enjoyed a good stay with their foster parents, but rather that their parents never talked about these experiences with their children. The explanation is not only that the parents felt guilt and shame. The general medical and pedagogical assessment was that traumatic experiences should not be discussed with children. They should be forgotten.

The hidden children felt that since their experiences were not spoken of, it must be because they were without meaning and significance. They had not themselves chosen silence and did not know that there were others with the same experiences with whom they could speak. Not until 65 years after the liberation did the number of hidden children and their stories became public knowledge. First then did they understand that they were not the only ones with these experiences and they then achieved a new common identity as hidden children.
 
Do you know a child who was hidden in Denmark during the war? Or do you have any information  about foster parents who took care of a Jewish child?

Research on the conditions for the hidden children continues at the Danish Jewish Museum. If you have information or source materials you are most welcome to contact us at info@remove-this.jewmus.dk.

 

Space and spaciousness

- an exhibition about Jews in Denmark

The exhibition is a broad story of Jewish life in Denmark and focuses on co-exixstence and indentity through 400 years. Read more...

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31. oktober 2013 - 31. maj 2014

Tuesday to Friday: 12 noon - 5 pm
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