Maud Dahme, a six-year-old Dutch girl, survived the Holocaust because of the decency and bravery of complete strangers. Now a prominent New Jersey resident and former president of the New Jersey State Board of Education, Dahme devotes her life to Holocaust and genocide education. THE HIDDEN CHILD is her story. The documentary airs on KUED-Channel 7 Thursday, April 12, at 8 p.m.
THE HIDDEN CHILD is Dahme’s story of courage and hope in the face of evil and death. Of the 1,600,000 Jewish children who lived in Europe before World War II, only 100,000 survived the Holocaust. Most were hidden children, shut away in attics, cellars, convents or in villages or farms. Dahme was one of the estimated 3,000 to 8,000 Jewish children in the Netherlands who were hidden and saved from Nazi death camps by Christians who felt a moral obligation to do the right thing, even at the risk of their own lives. Dahme recalls dodging bullets and being forced to lie in order to survive; but she also recalls the compassion of the strangers who risked their own lives to save Jewish children. Unlike Anne Frank, who hid with her family in Amsterdam, Dahme was separated from her parents. She and her younger sister, Rita, were raised as Christians and grew up under assumed names, first in Dutch farm country and then in a fishing village. After the war, the Dahme girls were reunited with their parents.
THE HIDDEN CHILD is an outgrowth of a July 2004 trip to the Netherlands with Dahme and a contingent of 20 New Jersey school teachers. The program captures Dahme’s return to the Dutch farmhouse and countryside where she was hidden as a child, and documents her emotional reunion with one of the Christian women who saved her life.
The riveting documentary also follows Dahme and the teachers to Vught, a Nazi concentration camp, to the Anne Frank house and to the old Jewish quarters of Amsterdam, recording reactions to both the Maude Dahme story and the Nazi’s systematic destruction of Jewish life in the Netherlands.
THE HIDDEN CHILD features interviews with Pieter Meerburg, an 83-year-old Dutch rescuer whose Amsterdam student group saved hundreds of Jewish children; Max Arpels Lezer, a former hidden child who is now chairman of the Hidden Child Association of the Netherlands; His Excellency Clifford Sobel, then U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands; and His Excellency Eitan Margalit, Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands.
Grassroots support for THE HIDDEN CHILD was provided by a number of individuals who were so moved by Dahme’s story that they contributed anywhere from $18, the numerical equivalent of the word “chai,” which means life in Hebrew, to multiples of chai. THE HIDDEN CHILD imparts important lessons about courage, struggle, survival and tolerance.
The Hidden Child airs on KUED-Channel 7 Thursday, April 12, at 8 p.m.
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