NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - On Thursday, May 29, Holocaust survivor Maud Dahme took Salt Brook School sixth-graders on a journey back through history, sharing her personal story of being a “hidden child” during World War II.
As part of a PTA-sponsored residency, the sixth-grade class listened intently as Dahme spoke about a childhood very different from their own. After Hitler invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, many regulations were instituted against Jews. Dahme wasn’t allowed to attend kindergarten at the public school, her family was prohibited from owning a car or going to the local store and all Jews over the age of 5 had to wear a yellow star intended to segregate them from the rest of the community.
The situation for Jews became extremely dangerous as time went on, and in the summer of 1942 Dahme’s parents sent 6-year-old Maud, and her 4-year-old sister, into hiding. With help from the Dutch underground, the two girls spent the next three years living on a farm with a Christian family. They were given new names and forbidden from telling anyone they were Jewish. Dahme spoke about the fear of being separated from her parents and having to live in seclusion. She recounted stories of other refugees she met and close encounters with the German soldiers. When the German forces surrendered in 1945, Dahme and her sister were reunited with their parents, who survived by hiding in the attic of Christian friends, but both sets of Dahme’s grandparents died as a result of the Holocaust.
Today, Dahme is a passionate advocate of Holocaust education, sharing her story with adults and children. Dahme is able to remain positive despite her experience because of the brave people who risked their lives and cared enough to save her and others. Dahme told the students she hopes they remember this part of her story and really care for one another, despite differences in appearance or beliefs.
Salt Brook School Assistant Principal Dr. Joseph Harvey also addressed students, connecting Dahme’s message back to the school’s character education theme, “Kindness Counts . . . Step It Up,” designed to foster kindness and respect among students and teach them about the effects of being kind to others in their community.